X Factor final: Ben Haenow wins 2014 contest
Singing Croydon boy Ben Haenow has been named this year’s X Factor winner after going head-to-head with Fleur East in the 2014 final at Wembley Arena. The contestants, who were both mentored by Simon Cowell in the over-25s group, sang two songs in front of the judges and a 10,000-strong audience. The winner was chosen by the public, with 10 million votes cast.
“This is what you’ve waited for for 12 years,” Cowell told Haenow. “This is what turning into a star feels like.” “You deserved it, you’re a great guy. This is your moment.” According to overnight figures, an average of 9.1 million viewers, including +1 audiences, watched Sunday’s finale. That was the lowest audience for a final results show since 2005.
Viewing peaked at 10.3 million when Haenow was named the winner. Last year’s finale saw an average 9.7 million tune in, according to overnight figures at the time. Once finalised, with catch-up and recorded viewing taken into account, the figure rose to 10.47 million.
Londoner Fleur East was gracious in defeat, congratulating rival Haenow. East, 26, had been the bookmakers’ favourite to win the series after topping the iTunes chart with her cover of Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk last week. For their song of the series, Haenow, 29, sang Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror, while East repeated her success with Uptown Funk, which became a UK number one for Ronson this weekend.
“Of all the finalists I’ve ever heard that was the greatest performance I’ve ever witnessed,” an effusive Cowell told East. “I didn’t get you when I first saw you, but you have transformed into such a great artist.” Both contestants sang the same winner’s song, a cover version of One Republic’s Something I Need. Haenow’s version was greeted by raucous applause from around the arena.
Mel B told him: “I think this song was truly made for you.” An emotional Haenow responded: “I can’t believe I am in this position. I’ve had a lot of knock-backs… You’ve made me feel unbelievable,” he told the audience. Faustini – who sang without the support of poorly mentor Mel B – was voted off on Saturday. Ahead of the final decision, Cowell called it “the best and closest final I have ever judged”, adding that he wished he could split the prize.
Sunday’s final was peppered with performances from previous X Factor stars, notably One Direction and Olly Murs, who duetted with Demi Lovato – a former judge on the now defunct US version of The X Factor. One Direction performed alongside Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, although the biggest cheers of the night were still reserved for Harry Styles. Asked what Mick Jagger thought of him performing with the boy band, Wood said: “Mick thinks this is hilariously creative.”
Grammy nominee Sam Smith performed Stay With Me in the final minutes of voting. His advice to the winner was: “Surround yourself with good people that you trust and never agree to do anything that you don’t want to do.” X Factor winners have had mixed success over the show’s 11 years, with runners up like Murs and JLS often proving more successful than the winners, who include such names as Leon Jackson and Matt Cardle.
Olly Murs and Leona Lewis are two of the X Factor’s most successful contestants. Probably the most successful artists to come out of the show, One Direction, came third in 2010, although winner Leona Lewis also enjoyed considerable success. Last year’s winner Sam Bailey went on to score the Christmas number one single with a cover of Lovato’s Skyscraper. Earlier this year her debut album, The Power of Love, went to number one, ahead of her taking time off to have a baby.
Alexandra Burke, who won in 2008, had the biggest-selling winner’s single over the course of the series, with her cover of Hallelujah. The ITV singing contest has seen a marked decline in its audience over recent years, with ratings falling by nearly six million over the past four years when Saturday’s final was compared with the same stage of the competition in 2010. Nonetheless, it continues to be a dominant force in primetime television, with adverts during the final being among the most expensive on UK TV.
It was hoped that the return of Simon Cowell and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini to the judging panel would boost viewing figures this year, as well as the arrival of former Spice Girl Mel B to the judging panel. However there was a further hiatus on Saturday when Mel B was unable to attend the first part of the final – and support her only remaining contestant Andrea Faustini – due to sickness. Faustini was the first of the final three to be voted off.