James Arthur
Contestant Profile
Birth Date 2 March 1988
'Age 30
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. In 2011, he released an album called Sins by the Sea via the site Bandcamp.

The X Factor

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.

After passing the mobile auditions, he auditioned 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 Factor

Initial chart success and debut album James Arthur (2013 - 2014)

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 in the British tabloid media 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. The tabloid media hit out again when he was involved in a series of Twitter spats with comedians Frankie Boyle, Matt Lucas and fellow finalist Lucy Spraggan. Following this, he handed control of his Twitter account over to his management. A Facebook petition was also 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 previous behavior saying that he had disgraced himself as a winner of the show and that he owed everything to the show for making him a success. Further controversy arose with the reviews of his mixtape "All the World's a Stage" with the tabloids claiming that Arthur was glorifying violence due to its lyrical content. Following this, he cancelled a series of public appearances, with his management citing exhaustion as the primary reason.

Departure from Syco

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 (2014 - 2015)

He independently released "All the World's a Stage" on May 16, 2014. 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.

He performed at V Festival in August 2014. On 19 October 2014, Arthur released a collaboration with British record producer Rymez entitled "Kryptonite"; the song entered the iTunes top 150 on pre-orders alone.

Back From the Edge, comeback success and US breakthrough (2015 - present)

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 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 act ever to resign to the label. 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.

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 of the original series since Leona Lewis to score a chart topping album with his second release. Earlier the same week he was interviewed on the red carpet at the Pride of Britain Awards where he confirmed that in spite of what the tabloids had reported a couple of years previously he and Simon Cowell had never fallen out with each other and stayed in touch after he parted ways with the label.

He went 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. It was also reported that he would be re-recording album track "Let Me Love the Lonely" as a duet with his former mentor Nicole Scherzinger, having done so with Polish singer MaRina for the Polish release of the album. By the end of December, "Say You Won't Let Go" was the nineteenth biggest-selling song of 2016 in the United Kingdom, making him the biggest-selling British male artist of the year.

In January 2017 "Say You Won't Let Go" became his first chart entry on the Billboard chartse, eventually peaking at #11 on the Hot 100 chart while peaking at #1 on the Adult Top 40 chart. "Back from the Edge" also made a significant jump, peaking at #39. He made several appearances in the country throughout the month and 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, respectively.

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 almost two years after his "X Factor" win. By March, the single had gone double platinum in the UK and platinum in the US. He also released "Can I Be Him" as the third and final single from the album.

The following month, the new album by US rapper Machine Gun Kelly, which includes a collaboration with James, was released. He also performed "Can I Be Him" on the show Tonight at the London Palladium. It was also announced that he would be doing his first ever arena tour in the UK and Ireland in November with fellow X Factor finalist and friend Ella Henderson as his support act. He also announced the release of a book called "Back to the Boy", which will talk about his struggles with fame and mental illness, set for release on October 5.

In early June it was confirmed Machine Gun Kelly would be releasing "Go for Broke" as the fourth single from his album. On June 20, it was announced on social media that James would be featured on a new track by English drum n bass act Rudimental, due for release ten days later. The same week, a cover version of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water", featuring Arthur and a host of other artists, including fellow X Factor artists Leona Lewis, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Ella Henderson, Louisa Johnson and Matt Terry, was released to raise money for those affected by the Grenfell tower block fire in London. The single reached #1 after only two days sales.

He joined OneRepublic and Fitz & The Tantrums touring the US and Canada but missed the Milwaukee date due to being on vocal rest, with Ryan Tedder filling in for him by performing "Say You Won't Let Go". The following month, he again missed a performance due to vocal problems, where it was revealed that he had nodules removed from his vocal cords. The same month, "Sun Comes Up" finally reached the Top 10 in the UK, giving him his fourth Top 10 single to date. He later mentioned in an interview the possibility of moving to the US to further his career. He was also nominated for his first US award at the Teen Choice Awards in the category of Breakthrough Artist but lost out to Chance the Rapper. He performed at V Festival for the second time, both solo and joining Rudimental onstage.

Upon his return to the US to rejoin OneRepublic's tour, he released a sponsored commercial spot for Extra chewing gum where he discussed how music had impacted his life and his relationship with his fans. He performed at MTV's Video Music Awards but the performance was only made available on the network's official site. He concluded his time with OneRepublic on September 12th before playing Madison Square Gardens alongside Julia Michaels and Kelly Clarkson two nights later. Six days later it was announced that he will be performing his new single on Series 14 of The X Factor. He performed "Sun Comes Up" with Rudimental on the Today Show and duetted with two of the finalists during the final of the twelfth season of America's Got Talent. He was also awarded for triple platinum sales of "Say You Won't Let Go" in the US. To date the single has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. He also co-wrote a new song by OneRepublic founding member Tim Myers. On October 5, his book "Back to the Boy" was released and he did a series of book signings throughout the UK to promote it. A week later, it was announced that he had been nominated for an American Music Award in the New Artist of the Year category, which he eventually lost to Niall Horan. The same month, he was awarded a platinum disc for 1 million worldwide sales of "Back from the Edge" and it was also announced that he has the two biggest-selling singles in X Factor UK history. He also performed "Say You Won't Let Go" with former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello at BBC Radio 1's Teen Choice Awards.

As of November 2017, "Say You Won't Let Go" has sold over 8 million copies worldwide and he has sold over 12 million singles to date. The same month he embarked on his UK and Ireland arena tour with Ella Henderson, performing their duet as well as his new single "Naked", due for release on 24 November. The latter entered the UK charts at #11, becoming his sixth Top 20 hit. On December 9th, he performed at Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball.

In May 2018, he released a collaboration with American producer Marshmello and American rapper Juicy J called "You Can Cry", which reached #91 on the UK charts. On 25 May, it was revealed on his social media accounts that he would be releasing a double A-side single called "You Deserve Better / At My Weakest".

Personal Life

Following his win, he had a brief romantic relationship with Series 12 winning judge Rita Ora. He met current girlfriend, dancer Jessica Grist, on the set of the video for his second single "You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You". In September 2016, after opening up about his struggles with drugs, anxiety and depression, it was announced that he had become an ambassador for UK mental health charity SANE.



James Arthur 2
Back from the Edge 1

Solo singles:

Impossible 1
You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You 2
Recovery 19
Get Down 96
Say You Won't Let Go 1
Safe Inside 31
Can I Be Him 69
Naked 11
You Deserve Better / At My Weakes 53

As featured artist

Wrecking Ball (with Alonzo Holt)
Kryptonite (with Rymez) 48 (iTunes UK)
Otherwise (with MOKS)
Bridge Over Troubled Water (with Artists for Grenfall) 1
Go for Broke (with Machine Gun Kelly)
Sun Comes Up (with Rudimental) 6
You Can Cry (with Marshmello & Juicy J) 91


All the World's a Stage



  • 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, stating that he would like to collaborate with him.
The X Factor UK Winners
Steve BrooksteinShayne WardLeona LewisLeon JacksonAlexandra BurkeJoe McElderryMatt CardleLittle MixJames ArthurSam BaileyBen HaenowLouisa JohnsonMatt TerryRak-Su
Series 9 Finalists
Carolynne PooleChristopher MaloneyDistrict3Ella HendersonJade EllisJahméne DouglasJames ArthurKye SonesLucy SpragganMelanie MassonMK1Rylan ClarkUnion J