Alexandra Burke wins Britain's 'X Factor' crown
AFP - 16 minutes ago
LONDON (AFP) - - Alexandra Burke won the final of "The X Factor" on Saturday, landing a one-million-pound recording contract and a path to stardom.
The 20-year-old singer from north London broke down in tears and could barely speak after beating four-piece vocal group JLS, who came second, and Northern Irish teenager Eoghan Quigg, who finished third.
Her version of the winner's song, "Hallelujah", is now a near-certainty to become the Christmas number one and was released for download at midnight.
Eight million viewers voted in the showpiece final.
"Thank-you for making my dreams come true, everyone," Burke said, fighting back tears.
Speaking after the final, 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."
Burke made the last 21 of Britain's most watched television show three years ago but was booted out of the contest by judge Louis Walsh.
However, she could now follow in the footsteps of 2006 winner Leona Lewis, who has gone on to become an international star.
Burke 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.
"No-one can deny what this girl achieved tonight. There would have been a riot if she hadn't won. I've got a really good feeling this is going to be one of the biggest-selling 'X Factor' singles. I've got a good feeling about her."
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.
JLS thanked their supporters and said they hoped their run to the final would kick-start their careers.
Quigg said: "Getting into the final for me was amazing. I'm so happy for Alexandra, she deserves it."
Cowell, the teenager's mentor, said: "Let's face it, he was up against two incredible contestants and you can leave with your head held high."
In a rare show of unity across the sectarian divide, Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had joined forces to urge people to vote for Quigg.
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 the US number one spot since 1987.
Bookmakers 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.
"Hallelujah" was written in the 1980s by Canadian singer Leonard Cohen.
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