James Arthur
Contestant Profile
Birth Date 2 March 1988
Age 31
Hometown Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England
Occupation Singer


Category Boys
Mentor Nicole Scherzinger
Placement Winner (1/13)
James Andrew Arthur (born 2 March 1988) is an English singer-songwriter, rapper and guitarist from Middlesborough.

He participated in Series 9 of The X Factor as part of the Boys category, mentored by Nicole Scherzinger. He made it to the final and was crowned the winner defeating fellow category member Jahméne Douglas.

This also made him the first-ever winner of the original series to have previously been in the Bottom 2 sing-off.


"Impossible" cover


Episode Theme Song Result
Audition Free choice "Young" Advanced
Bootcamp 1 Group performance "How to Save a Life" Advanced
Bootcamp 2 Solo performance " A Million Love Songs" Advanced
Judges' houses Free choice "I Can't Make You Love Me" Advanced
Week 1 Heroes night "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" Safe (6th)
Week 2 Love and heartbreak "No More Drama" Safe (6th)
Week 3 Club classics "Sexy and I Know It" Safe (6th)
Week 4 Halloween "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" Safe (3rd)
Week 5 Number-ones "Don't Speak" Safe (6th)
Week 6 Best of British "Hometown Glory" Safe (3rd)
Week 7 Guilty pleasures "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" Bottom two
Sing-off "Fallin'" Safe (5th)
Week 8 Songs by ABBA "SOS" Safe (1st)
Motown songs "Let's Get It On"
Week 9: Semi-final Songs dedicated to people "One" Safe (1st)
Songs to get you to the final "The Power of Love"
Week 10: Final Free choice "Feeling Good" Safe (1st)
Mentor duets "Make You Feel My Love" (with Nicole Scherzinger)
Favourite performance "Let's Get It On" Winner
Winner's single "Impossible"

Post The X Factor

Initial chart success and controversy (2013 - 2014)

Following his win, ‘Impossible’ went on to top the UK Charts spent two weeks at the summit before being denied the Christmas #1 by the Military Wives. However, it reclaimed the top spot for two weeks in January 2013 – a first for any winner’s single.

Later that year he announced plans for his follow-up single “You’re Nobody til Somebody Loves You”, which would stall at #2 behind New Zealander Lorde’s debut single “Royals”. His eponymous debut album was released in November 2013, also peaking at #2 behind Eminem’s “Marshall Mathers EP 2”.

The same month he was the subject of British tabloid reports following the release of a rap track “Hey Mickey”, which was aimed at an unknown rapper called Mickey Worthless, who had criticised James for presenting himself as a battle rapper on UK radio. Due to the track, tabloid reports painted James as homophobic, leading to a series of Twitter spats with comedians Frankie Boyle and Matt Lucas and even fellow Series 9 finalist Lucy Spraggan. Following this he handed control of his Twitter account over to his management and refunds were offered for his album on iTunes. There were also calls for his appearance on Series 10 of The X Factor to be cancelled but despite this the performance of his third single "Recovery" went ahead with James apologising live on-air for his behaviour.

In March 2014, he released the album's final single "Get Down" but due to the negative press he had received it peaked at #96 on the UK charts. The following month, several media outlets reported that he had been dropped by Syco Music but he denied this, stating that he was still signed to the label until the end of May. Finally, on June 11, he admitted that he had indeed parted ways with them.

Post Syco (2014 - 2015)

He independently released his rap mixtape "All the World's a Stage" on May 16, 2014. He then toured around Europe and won two European music awards for "Impossible" and for International Breakthrough Act respectively. He also appeared as a guest judge on X Factor Bulgaria and later duetted with finalist Mihaela Marinova, who eventually finished in third place. Around the same time he revealed that he had begun writing songs for his second studio album.

He performed at V Festival in August and in October he released a collaboration with British record producer Rymez entitled "Kryptonite". The song entered the iTunes Top 150 on pre-orders alone.

Back From the Edge, comeback success and US breakthrough (2015 - present)

In September 2015 he confirmed on Twitter that he had signed a new deal with Columbia Records Germany to release his second studio album. In the new year, he released a song called "The Truth" which featured on VH1 show "Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn". Although not planned as a single, the track would later be included on the deluxe edition of his second album.

In September of that year, his comeback single "Say You Won't Let Go" was released and it entered the UK charts at #25 before peaking at #1 two weeks later, making him the first male winner of the original series to have two UK chart toppers. Following this success, he revealed that Syco had contacted him and asked if he would like to work with them again, therefore making him the first act ever to resign to the label.

In an interview broadcast on ITV's This Morning the same month he admitted that when he applied for the show he was not in a good place mentally and was embarrassed when he looked back at his behaviour following his win. He later performed the single on the first live results show of Series 13.

The following month, he released his second studio album "Back From the Edge" and it entered the UK charts at #1 making him the first winner of the original series since Leona Lewis to score a chart topping album with his second release. At the Pride of Britain Awards he confirmed that he had stayed in contact after his departure from Syco, therefore debunking tabloid reports. By the end of the year "Say You Won't Let Go" was the nineteenth biggest-selling song of 2016 in the United Kingdom, making him the biggest-selling British male artist of the year.

In January 2017 the single became his first chart entry on the Billboard charts, eventually peaking at #11 on the Hot 100 chart while peaking at #1 on the Adult Top 40 chart. The album also made a significant jump, peaking at #39. He made several appearances in the country throughout the month and the single went on to surpass the 1 million sales mark in the UK, thus making him the first-ever 'X Factor' act to have two singles sell over 1 million copies in his homeland.  The same week, he was nominated for his second and third BRIT Award respectively in the categories "Best Artist Video of the Year" and "Best British Single of the Year" for "Say You Won't Let Go", eventually losing out to both One Direction and Little Mix, respectively.

He performed "Safe Inside" at the National Television Awards on January 25 before flying back to the US to continue promotion for "Say You Won't Let Go", which ended in early February. While being interviewed on UK TV James was awarded a disc denoting that total worldwide sales for "Say You Won't Let Go" had passed the 2 million mark.  He also confirmed via Twitter that he would be appearing at the V Festival in August, having previously performed there almost two years after his "X Factor" win. By March, the single had gone double platinum in the UK and platinum in the US. He released "Can I Be Him" as the third and final single from the album.

He went on a small UK tour in spring 2017 to promote the album. He performed "Say You Won't Let Go" as a duet with finalist Vlado on Series 8 of The X Factor Australia as well as performing album track "Safe Inside", which was later confirmed as the second release from his album. It was also reported that he would be re-recording album track "Let Me Love the Lonely" as a duet with his former mentor Nicole Scherzinger, having done so with Polish singer MaRina for the Polish release of the album but the reports turned out to be false.

During his initial tour of the US he provided vocals on a collaboration for Machine Gun Kelly's album "Bloom", which was later released as a single and Ryan Tedder announced that he would be supporting the band along with Fitz & The Tantrums on their summer tour of US and Canada. However, he ultimately missed two dates due to vocal chord problems and as a result underwent surgery.

It was announced that he would be doing his first ever arena tour in the UK and Ireland in November with fellow X Factor finalist and friend Ella Henderson as his support act. He also announced the release of a book called "Back to the Boy", which talked about his struggles with fame and mental illness and was released October 5.

It was announced that James would be featured on a new track by English drum n bass act Rudimental called "Sun Comes Up", due for at the end of June. It went on to peak in the Top 10, giving him his fourth Top 10 hit. He also featured on a cover version of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water", along with a host of other artists, including fellow X Factor artists Leona Lewis, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Ella Henderson, Louisa Johnson and Matt Terry, which was released to raise money for those affected by the Grenfell tower block fire in London. The single reached #1 after only two days sales.

He later mentioned in an interview the possibility of moving to the US to further his career and was nominated for his first US award at the Teen Choice Awards in the category of Breakthrough Artist but lost out to Chance the Rapper. He performed at V Festival for the second time, both solo and joining Rudimental onstage.

He concluded his time with OneRepublic on September 12th before playing Madison Square Gardens alongside Julia Michaels and Kelly Clarkson two nights later. Six days later it was announced that he would be performing his new single on Series 14 of The X Factor.

He performed "Sun Comes Up" with Rudimental on The Today Show and duetted with two of the finalists during the final of the twelfth season of America's Got Talent. He was also awarded for triple platinum sales of "Say You Won't Let Go" in the US and co-wrote a new song by OneRepublic founding member Tim Myers. In mid October, it was announced that he had been nominated for an American Music Award in the New Artist of the Year category, which he eventually lost to Niall Horan. The same month, he was awarded a platinum disc for 1 million worldwide sales of "Back from the Edge" and it was also announced that he has the two biggest-selling singles in X Factor UK history. He also performed "Say You Won't Let Go" with former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello at BBC Radio 1's Teen Choice Awards.

As of November 2017, "Say You Won't Let Go" had sold over 8 million copies worldwide and he has sold over 12 million singles to date. The same month he embarked on his UK and Ireland arena tour with Ella Henderson, performing their duet as well as his new single "Naked", which was released on 24 November. The latter entered the UK charts at #11, becoming his sixth Top 20 hit. On December 9, five years to the day he won The X Factor, he performed at Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball.

In May 2018, he released a collaboration with American producer Marshmello and American rapper Juicy J called "You Can Cry", which reached #91 on the UK charts. On 25 May, it was revealed on his social media accounts that he would be releasing a double A-side single called "You Deserve Better / At My Weakest", which peaked at #53.  He followed this up in October with the single "Empty Space", which peaked at #22 and was performed during Series 15 of The X Factor.

With the departures of Little Mix and Rak-Su from Syco Music in November 2018, he is the only former winner left on the label. The same month he collaborated with English singer Anne-Marie on a reworking of "Rewrite the Stars" from the movie "The Greatest Showman", which was part of a re-imagined soundtrack featuring several well-known artists and to date has peaked at #8 on the UK Charts. He also announced the possibility of his third album being a double album and during the Series 15 final he dueted with finalist and eventual winner Dalton Harris on a cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 1984 chart topper "The Power of Love", which James had performed during the semi final in 2012. The single charted at #4 on the UK Charts, becoming James seventh Top 10 single.

Personal Life

Following his win, he had a brief romantic relationship with Series 12 winning judge Rita Ora. He met current girlfriend, dancer Jessica Grist, on the set of the video for his second single "You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You". In September 2016, after opening up about his struggles with drugs, anxiety and depression, it was announced that he had become an ambassador for UK mental health charity SANE.



2013 James Arthur 2
2016 Back from the Edge 1
2019 TBA

Solo singles:

2012 Impossible 1
2013 You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You 2
Recovery 19
2014 Get Down 96
2016 Say You Won't Let Go 1
2017 Safe Inside 31
Can I Be Him 69
Naked 11
2018 You Deserve Better / At My Weakest 53
Empty Space 22

As featured artist

2013 Wrecking Ball (with Alonzo Holt) -
2014 Kryptonite (with Rymez) 48 (iTunes UK)
2015 Otherwise (with MOKS) -
2017 Go for Broke (with Machine Gun Kelly) -
Bridge Over Troubled Water (with Artists for Grenfall) 1
Sun Comes Up (with Rudimental) 6
2018 You Can Cry (with Marshmello & Juicy J) 91
"Rewrite the Stars" (with Anne-Marie) 8
"The Power of Love" (with Dalton Harris) 4


All the World's a Stage



  • As of February 2017, his audition has been viewed over 60 million times on YouTube making it the most-viewed audition by an X Factor winner.
  • He has named Nirvana lead singer and songwriter Kurt Cobain as the reason he decided to get into music and is also a huge Eminem fan, stating that he would like to collaborate with him.
The X Factor UK Winners
Steve BrooksteinShayne WardLeona LewisLeon JacksonAlexandra BurkeJoe McElderryMatt CardleLittle MixJames ArthurSam BaileyBen HaenowLouisa JohnsonMatt TerryRak-SuDalton Harris
UK Series 9 Finalists
Carolynne PooleChristopher MaloneyDistrict3Ella HendersonJade EllisJahméne DouglasJames ArthurKye SonesLucy SpragganMelanie MassonMK1Rylan ClarkUnion J