Former reject singer wins Britain's top TV show
AFP - 1 hour 18 minutes ago
LONDON (AFP) - - Alexandra Burke won the 2008 edition of the British music reality television contest "The X Factor" on Saturday, scooping a massive recording contract and a path to stardom.
The 20-year-old singer from north London made the last 21 of Britain's most watched television show three years ago but was booted out of the contest.
However, she auditioned again and having landed a one-million-pound (1.5-million-dollar, 1.1-million-euro) deal with her victory on Saturday, Burke could follow in the footsteps of 2006 winner Leona Lewis, now an international star.
Her version of the winner's song, "Hallelujah" -- written in the 1980s by Canadian singer Leonard Cohen -- is now a near-certainty to become the Christmas number one in Britain. Eight million viewers voted in the showpiece final.
Burke broke down in tears and could barely speak after edging out four-piece vocal group JLS, which came second. Eoghan Quigg, 16, from Northern Ireland, came third.
"Thank-you for making my dreams come true, everyone," she said.
Speaking after the show, she added: "I went for this show three years ago and I got told to go home because I wasn't ready.
"I took three years to get myself ready, I came back and look what's happened."
She is now due to perform with Elton John at London's O2 Arena on New Year's Eve.
Music mogul Simon Cowell, one of the show's judges, said: "I'm rarely speechless but I am now. Alex, God bless you. You deserved it.
"I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for everyone who's watched it, written about it and voted, thank you very much indeed."
Burke's mother Melissa Bell was a singer in the dance group Soul II Soul, which had hits in the 1980s and 1990s.
Her fellow Londoner Lewis, who won the third series of "The X Factor", is now a big star in the United States and has topped the charts around the world.
She is the first British solo artist to top the US charts with a debut album and her single "Bleeding Love" was the first song by a British woman to hit number one since 1987.
The 2008 finalists performed three songs each, one a Christmas song and one with a famous act, as they battled for viewer votes.
Burke sang "Listen" with US star Beyonce Knowles, while JLS performed "Flying Without Wings" with Westlife and Quigg sang "Picture of You" with Westlife's fellow Irish boyband Boyzone.
Betting shop chains said Saturday's final was the biggest reality television betting event they had witnessed.
"The winning song could do the unthinkable and sell a million copies in a week," a spokesman for bookmakers William Hill said.
The single "Hallelujah" was to be made available for download at midnight (0000 GMT).
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