Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'm wondering if Simon Cowell learned something from Leona Lewis.  Before Leona, the business plan seemed to be to make money from the live shows, give the winner a record deal during which they would pay back even more with a number one single at Christmas then a album of covers which did reasonably before he or she was quietly dropped.  All very short term.

One or two of those that came second or third may get a record deal as well if they looked as though they had a dedicated following, but again nothing really long term.

Then along came Leona Lewis who has made millions and shown that a great winner can make Simon an absolute fortune.  The trouble was, some of the past contestants have been backed by emotion by fans who wouldn't back the artist in the lomg term. 

For 2008, there seemed to be more of an attempt to stretch artists to find breaking points and drop anybody weak before the final.  Alexandra Burke was clearly stretched to ensure she was versatile, and she'll go on to have a steady career.  Probably not as stellar as Leona Lewis, but good long term income for Simon and Serco.    However, Eoghan Quigg nearly snuck in there and wouldn't have done as well, so for 2009 I expect things will be even tougher to that the Eoghans of this world don't make it to the final.

Along the way in 2008 two great stars dropped out - Laura White and Ruth Lorenzo.  Simon voted Laura out and I always suspected there was something about her personal life he didn't take to, but having heard the pre-releases of her single on her site, I don't like them at all.  She's should be turning out records like Katie Melua but that doesn't seem to be what we are getting.  I'm worried her career won't live up to her great voice.  In this case, I suspect Simon may have been right.

I still think he missed the greatest opportunity with Ruth Lorenzo though.  Able to sing in both Engkish and Spanish she could have hit the Hispanic market as well as the English language one.  She has the potential to be huge.  Let's hope so.

So for 2009, I expect the series will have got much tougher for X Factor contestants to leave Simon with another Leona Lewis or Alexandra Burke.