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James Arthur

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James Arthur
Contestant Profile
Birth Date 2 March 1988
'Age 29
Hometown Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England
Occupation Singer


Category Boys
Mentor Nicole Scherzinger
Placement Winner (1/13)

James Andrew Arthur (born 2 March 1988) is an English singer-songwriter, rapper and guitarist from Middlesborough who won Series 9 of The X Factor. He was a part of the Boys category, mentored by Nicole Scherzinger.


He began learning to play the guitar at the age of 13 and began writing songs two years later. He tried to make a name for himself by joining several unsigned bands including Moonlight Drive, Cue the Drama, Save Arcade and Emerald Skye before releasing solo material as The James Arthur Project. He also auditioned for the inaugural series of The Voice UK but only made it as far as the Top 200.

The X FactorEdit

Having been living in a bedsit and busking on the streets for years, he first learned about the audition process for the show when the electricity went out in his bedsit and he needed the money for it. He was told that the mobile audition van would be coming to Middlesborough and he decided to audition, even though he felt he didn't fit the criteria of previous auditionees.

He auditioned again for the judges in Newcastle and his parents, who divorced when he was a toddler, accompanied him in a family reunion. Here, he wowed everyone with his own interpretation of "Young" by judge Tulisa Contostavlos, receiving a standing ovation from both the audience and judges. Gary Barlow remarked that his audition was so good that no one should dare touch what he did while Nicole Scherzinger stated that his audition was inspirational. He received four yeses and afterwards Tulisa expressed her surprise to her fellow judges that he had managed to turn her song, an Ibiza dance anthem, into an acoustic song while Nicole said that she wanted to write a song just to see what he would do with it.

From there he made it past bootcamp and all the way to judges' houses as part of the Boys category mentored by Nicole Scherzinger. She selected him as one of her Top 3 for the live shows.

After the second live show, he suffered an anxiety attack backstage but since it wasn't bad enough for him to be hospitalized, he was able to continue on in the competition. He wowed the public and judges every week with his vocals and his ability to emotionally connect with a song.

In Week 7 he found himself in the Bottom 2 alongside Ella Henderson. There was much confusion and anger over the result as both had been favorites to make it to the final and Rylan Clark and Christopher Maloney had both avoided the sing off. As the judges' vote was deadlocked, the public result revealed that Ella had gained the fewest votes and would be leaving the competition. This result came as a shock as she had been the bookies' favorite to win the series.

From then on, James, who had only been in the Top 5 a total of four times, rose to the top of the voting and made it all the way to the final in Manchester with Jahméne Douglas and Christopher Maloney. Along with the former, he made it through to the second night of the final, eventually being crowned the winner. This saw him make history as the first-ever champion of the original series who had previously been in the Bottom 2.

His first single, a cover of the Shontelle hit "Impossible", was released after the final. Within 48 hours after its release, it became the fastest-selling single in X Factor UK history with 187,000 downloads sold. In its first week, the single sold 489,560 copies, making it the UK's fastest-selling single of 2012. It went on to hit #1 on the UK Singles Charts and earned Arthur a nomination for a BRIT Award. It reached #1 in Ireland (where it was the year's biggest selling single), the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Slovakia as well as reaching the Top 10 in several other countries including Australia. As of 2015, it the best-selling X Factor winner's single ever, selling over 1.42 million copies to date. It is also the only winner's single to return to the top spot in the UK charts after it was knocked off during Christmas week.

"Impossible" cover


Episode Theme Song Result
Audition Free choice "Young" Advanced
Bootcamp 1 Group performance "How to Save a Life" Advanced
Bootcamp 2 Solo performance " A Million Love Songs" Advanced
Judges' houses Free choice "I Can't Make You Love Me" Advanced
Week 1 Heroes night "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" Safe (6th)
Week 2 Love and heartbreak "No More Drama" Safe (6th)
Week 3 Club classics "Sexy and I Know It" Safe (6th)
Week 4 Halloween "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" Safe (3rd)
Week 5 Number-ones "Don't Speak" Safe (6th)
Week 6 Best of British "Hometown Glory" Safe (3rd)
Week 7 Guilty pleasures "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" Bottom two (5th)
Week 8 Songs by ABBA "SOS" Safe (1st)
Motown songs "Let's Get It On"
Week 9: Semi-final Songs dedicated to people "One" Safe (1st)
Songs to get you to the final "The Power of Love"
Week 10: Final Free choice "Feeling Good" Safe (1st)
Mentor duets "Make You Feel My Love" (with Nicole Scherzinger)
Favourite performance "Let's Get It On" Winner
Winner's single "Impossible"

Post The X FactorEdit

On August 7, 2013, Arthur announced via Twitter that his new single, "You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You", would be released to UK radio on September 9, 2013. It was officially released on iTunes and other digital retailers on October 20, 2013. It debuted at number 2 on the UK Singles Chart behind New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde's hit "Royals".

His self-titled debut album, which features collaborations with Emeli Sandé and Chasing Grace, was released on November 4, 2013, debuting at #2 on the UK Albums Chart behind Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP 2".


In November 2013, he sparked controversy after releasing a freestyle track called "Hey Mickey", which contained a homophobic slur aimed at unknown battle rapper Mickey Worthless, who didn't feel it was right that Arthur was presenting himself as a battle rapper on national radio. Arthur immediately apologized, claiming he wasn't homophobic but was involved in a series of Twitter spats with comedians Frankie Boyle, Matt Lucas and fellow finalist Lucy Spraggan. A Facebook petition was launched to see his upcoming performance on Series 10 of The X Factor cancelled and iTunes offered refunds on his album.

However, the performance of his single "Recovery" on the eighth live show went ahead and afterwards he gave an on-air apology for his behavior in the press and on Twitter saying that he had disgraced himself as a winner of the show.  Following this, he handed control of his Twitter account over to his management and cancelled a week of public engagements, citing exhaustion.

Departure from Syco Edit

On March 3, 2014, Arthur released the album's final single "Get Down" but due to the negative press he had received it peaked at #96 on the UK charts. The following month, several media outlets reported that he had been dropped by Syco Music but he went on Twitter to deny this and stated he was still signed to the label until the end of May. Finally, on June 11, he admitted that he had indeed parted ways with them.

Post Syco Edit

Following his departure from Syco he independently released a mixtape called "All the World's a Stage". He then toured around Europe and won two European music awards for "Impossible" and for International Breakthrough Act respectively. He also appeared as a guest judge on the Bulgarian version of The X Factor and later duetted with finalist Mihaela Marinova, who eventually finished in third place. Around the same time he revealed that he had begun writing songs for his second studio album.

Second album: Back From the Edge (2015 - present) Edit

In September 2015 he confirmed on Twitter that he had signed a new deal with Columbia Records Germany to release his second studio album. In January 2016, he released a song called "The Truth" which featured on VH1 show "Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn" in the US but stated that it was not a single. The track would later be included on the deluxe edition of his second album.

In September 2016, he released his comeback single "Say You Won't Let Go" and it entered the UK charts at #25 on September 16 before peaking at #1 two weeks later, making him the first male winner of the original series to have two UK chart toppers. Following this success, he revealed that Syco contacted him and asked if he would like to work with them again, therefore making him the first winner to resign to the label as well as the first artist ever to do so. In an interview broadcast on ITV's This Morning the same month he admitted that when he applied for the show he was not in a good place mentally and was embarrassed when he looked back at his behavior following his win. He has since become an ambassador for UK mental health charity SANE and performed his #1 single on the first live results show of Series 13. By the end of December, the song was the nineteenth biggest-selling song of 2016 in the United Kingdom, making him the biggest-selling British male artist of the year.

On October 28, he released his second studio album "Back From the Edge" and a week later it entered the UK charts at #1 making him the first winner since Leona Lewis to score a chart topping album with his second release. He will go on a UK tour in spring 2017 to promote the album. He performed "Say You Won't Let Go" as a duet with finalist Vlado on Series 8 of The X Factor Australia as well as performing album track "Safe Inside", which was later confirmed as the second release from his album. He also announced that he would be re-recording album track "Let Me Love the Lonely" as a duet with his former mentor Nicole Scherzinger.

In January 2017 "Say You Won't Let Go2 became his first Top 40 single on the Billboard charts while "Back from the Edge" also made a significant jump, rising to #52. He made several appearances in the country throughout the month and during the month the single surpassed the 1 million sales mark in the UK, thus making him the first-ever 'X Factor' act to have two singles sell over 1 million copies in his homeland.  The same week, he was nominated for his second and third BRIT Award respectively in the categories "Best Artist Video of the Year" and "Best British Single of the Year" for "Say You Won't Let Go", eventually losing out to both One Direction and Little Mix, respectiviely.

He performed "Safe Inside" at the National Television Awards on January 25 before flying back to the US to continue promotion for "Say You Won't Let Go", which ended in early February. At the Grammy Awards One Republic lead singer Ryan Tedder announced that he would be supporting the group on their US and Canada tour during the summer and in late February while being interviewed on UK TV James was awarded a disc denoting that total worldwide sales for "Say You Won't Let Go" had passed the 2 million mark.  He also confirmed via Twitter that he would be appearing at the V Festival in August, having previously performed there the year after his "X Factor" win. By March, the single had gone double platinum in the UK and platinum in the US. After one of his UK concerts he confirmed that he will be doing an arena tour in November.



Solo singles:

As featured artist

  • "Wrecking Ball" (with Alonzo Holt) (2013)
  • "Kryptonite" (with Rymez) (2014)
  • "Otherwise" (with MOKS) (2015)


  • "All the World's a Stage" (2014)



  • As of February 2017, his audition has been viewed over 60 million times on YouTube making it the most-viewed audition by an X Factor winner.
  • He has named Nirvana lead singer and songwriter Kurt Cobain as the reason he decided to get into music and is also a huge Eminem fan, who he would like to collaborate with.
The X Factor UK Winners
Steve BrooksteinShayne WardLeona LewisLeon JacksonAlexandra BurkeJoe McElderryMatt CardleLittle MixJames ArthurSam BaileyBen HaenowLouisa JohnsonMatt Terry
Series 9 Finalists
Carolynne PooleChristopher MaloneyDistrict3Ella HendersonJade EllisJahméne DouglasJames ArthurKye SonesLucy SpragganMelanie MassonMK1Rylan ClarkUnion J

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