The former judge didn’t hold back (Picture: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
Louis Walsh hasn’t minced his words when dishing his verdict on a selection of former winners of The X Factor.
From 2004 until 2014, and then again from 2016 until 2017, the 71-year-old was one of the judges on the ITV singing competition, overseeing acts including Shayne Ward, Jedward, JLS and Union J.
While Simon Cowell might have been regarded as the harshest of the members of the judging panel, Louis was also known to dish out zingers from time to time.
In a new interview, he’s taken aim at two former X Factor winners in particular, admitting that ‘there was no likeability’ when it came to one of them.
In 2004, Steve Brookstein became the first ever winner of The X Factor, beating the group G4, who were the runners-up, and Tabby Callaghan, who finished in third place.
Speaking of the singer, Louis told Ladbrokes Live: ‘Steve Brookstein… we didn’t like him very much. He was a pub singer. He was quite a good singer, but there was no likeability there with him.’
Steve was the first ever winner of The X Factor in 2004 (Picture: Jon Furniss/WireImage)
In the music manager’s opinion, it was therefore ‘so important’ that former Coronation Street star Shayne ended up winning the following series in 2005, ‘because he was exactly what we were looking for’.
‘He was likeable, he had the talent, and he listened. He worked hard every week, and no matter what you threw at him, he gave it 100%. You can’t be part-time in this business, you have to be full-time, and he was just great to work with,’ he said.
Louis also brought up Louisa Johnson, who won the 12th series of the show in 2015.
Following her victory, her song Forever Young reached number nine on the UK Singles Chart, and the following year she released a single called Tears with Clean Bandit, which reached number five.
Louis said that he had high expectations for Louisa after her victory (Picture: Ken McKay/ITV/Rex)
Two years later, Louisa announced that she had left Simon’s music label Syco.
‘There’s a good few names who I think about and wonder why things didn’t quite work out for them after the show. Louisa who won a few years back… I thought she was going to do well, and she didn’t quite,’ Louis said in the interview.
‘The show is a launchpad for these artists… after the series finishes, that’s when the serious work starts. They think they’ve made it, but it’s just the start.
‘You’ve got to make great records, you’ve got to work 24/7, you need a great record company, you need a great producer, you need a whole team around you. And most of all, you need the public to like you. And if they don’t like you, forget it.’
Leon won the show 16 years ago (Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
The former judge added that in his opinion, Leon Jackson, who won the fourth series of The X Factor in 2007, ‘didn’t have the personality’ – but he spoke more highly of a couple of other past winners.
‘Alexandra Burke, too, she was just a workhorse. Leona Lewis just sang anything and it was great, no matter what it was,’ he stated, after Alexandra Burke won the show in 2008, and Leona Lewis soared to victory in 2006.
In 2021, it emerged that The X Factor had been scrapped by ITV after 17 years, with ‘no current plans’ for it to return.
Louisa previously opened up about her experience on the show, saying that when it was over, she felt ‘exhausted and tired’, describing her journey as ‘weird’ and ‘crazy’.