A friend of X Factor 2013 winner Sam Bailey has told how music mogul Simon Cowell rejected the ska act they formed together 17 years ago because the pair were not celebrities.
Bailey, a 36-year-old former prison guard, teamed up with Julie Nunney to create Girls Next Door when they were 19, but a lack of television presence deterred the X Factor boss from signing them.
They reportedly recorded a track called "Too Late", which Clyde Ward from Right Said Fred produced, but it was never released.
“We met aged 15, Sam was an amazing singer and we used to go to the local karaoke bars in South London,” Nunney told The Daily Mirror.
“Cowell listened to the record we made and liked it, but he turned it down saying he couldn’t do anything with it because we weren’t on the TV.”
Despite this early setback, Bailey went on to be crowned X Factor winner a week ago after beating 17-year-old Nicholas McDonald in the final.
Yesterday, she was named as this year’s Christmas number one with her cover of Demi Lovato’s ‘Skyscraper’.
Bailey told OfficialCharts.com that 2014 will be a “huge year” as she will be hot-footing it into the studio as soon as possible.
“I want to do some songs that people haven’t heard in a while, and bring back some stuff that people probably haven’t even heard of, so that it feels like a new song.
“I’m going to try and do some stuff of my own and get some songs out there that are originals.”
“We’re getting out heads together in the next few weeks just to see what we can come up with,” she added. “I’m really excited and I’m just ready to knuckle down and get this album out.”
X Factor winners: Where are they now?
X Factor winners: Where are they now?
1/10 2013: Sam Bailey
The clear winner from the outset, Sam Bailey went on to beat teen singers Luke Friend and Nicholas McDonald. Bailey's cover of Demi Lovato's 'Skyscraper' went straight to number one on 22 December 2013, becoming the first X Factor winner in three years to gain the Christmas number one spot. Her debut album is due to be released on 24 March. She is also currently pregnant with her third child.
2/10 2012: James Arthur
He secured the biggest-selling X Factor winner's song ever with 'Impossible', but last year's victor James Arthur has been at the centre of controversy recently. Arthur got into a Twitter spat with fellow former contestant Lucy Spraggan when he used a homophobic lyric in a rap. The singer apologised on-air for 'abusing [his] position as an X Factor winner' after a performance on the results show a few weeks ago. Arthur's new single 'Recovery' is currently number 19 in the Official UK Singles Chart.
3/10 2011: Little Mix
Girl band Little Mix are one of The X Factor's success stories. Formerly known as Rhythmix, the group released an autobiography in August 2012 and their debut album came out that November, reaching number three. Little Mix's Perrie Edwards is engaged to One Direction's Zayn Malik which, you know, helps with the the whole fame thing. The band toured earlier this year and have enjoyed US success too. Their latest album Salute was released on 15 November.
4/10 2010: Matt Cardle
Singer-songwriter Matt Cardle performed 'Unfaithful' with Rihanna during the 2010 X Factor finals. He famously criticised Syco for being 'very pop' when he, apparently, wasn't. Shortly afterwards, he left Cowell's label. Cardle returned to the charts when his first album 'The Fire' made number eight and was well-received by critics. He recorded a duet with Spice Girl Melanie C, 'Loving You', in the summer and will be touring new album 'Porcelain' in April 2014.
5/10 2009: Joe McElderry
Rage Against The Machine's 'Killing In The Name' famously beat Joe McElderry to the Christmas number one in 2009, following an internet campaign to do battle with Cowell's chart machine. McElderry's luck failed to pick up and he soon found himself winning yet another talent show, Pop Star to Opera Star. Recently, he's enjoyed some success in the classical world and appeared in several West End shows. He is signed with Universal Music's Decca label.
6/10 2008: Alexandra Burke
Alexandra Burke's cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' sold more than a million copies in the UK, a success she followed with five top ten singles and a hit album. Burke has been a brand ambassador for a women's deodorant and signed a modelling contract in 2010. She joined The X Factor as a guest judge during the final of the eight series. The 'Bad Boys' singer has another album out next year but it will be released on RCA records after her recent split from Simon Cowell's label.
7/10 2007: Leon Jackson
'When You Believe' became the fastest-selling single of 2007 when winner Leon Jackson released it before Christmas, but he was dropped in 2009 following poor sales. His third single 'Creative' only reached number 94 in the charts and half his tour dates were cancelled. At present, Jackson is reportedly writing a second album that he will release independently.
8/10 2006: Leona Lewis
She's The X Factor's darling and one of the only acts still with Simon Cowell's label. Leona Lewis enjoyed huge international success after winning the 2006 show and releasing her first single 'A Moment Like This'. Recently, she has struggled, with sales of her latest album 'Glassheart' down steeply from those of her debut in 2007.
9/10 2005: Shayne Ward
After his victory on the second show, Ward achieved the fourth fastest-selling UK single ever with 'That's My Goal'. Several other hits and three albums followed and at one stage, he was reportedly considered to replace Jason Orange in Take That. Ward was dropped six years later to make room for other upcoming stars on Syco's label and has since turned his hand to performing in London musical Rock of Ages with Justin Lee Collins. The Mancunian singer appeared in Dancing on Ice in January 2013 but was eliminated in the fifth round.
10/10 2004: Steve Brookstein
The first winner of The X Factor, Steve Brookstein scored a number one single with 'Against All Odds' but was dumped by Sony BMG just eight months afterwards for being a one-hit wonder. Since his brief success evaporated, Brookstein has performed on cruise ships and was spotted in 2010 performing in a small Cornish pub for £2.50 a ticket. Brookstein no longer appears in publicity for The X Factor and as a result, he has repeatedly hit out at both the show and Simon Cowell. He is, however, still singing, and has a new album 'Soul Journey' out in February.