Simon Cowell, who participated in American Idol for its first ten seasons, also judged and produced the UK-based X Factor talent competition for seven years starting in 2004. While the objective of both shows is the same, The X Factor is different in several ways. Contestants are not limited to age 28 as they are on American Idol, and groups are also allowed on The X Factor. Series 7 of The X Factor wrapped up on December 12, 2010 with 27-year-old Matt Cardle celebrating his victory by releasing his debut single "When We Collide." Here is a recap of the season with brief descriptions of the Top 16 contestants.
16. Nicolo Festa
Nicolo was labeled a diva early on, which seemed to create a love-him-or-hate-him scenario with viewers. While there was no argument that he could carry a tune, his affected delivery seemed to put some off from him, and he went out in the first round based on a shaky version of Lady GaGa's "Just Dance."
F.Y.D. came into the competition as a self-made group, which gave them an initial advantage over X Factor-manufactured groups Belle Amie and One Direction. However, their awkward and scattered opening round performance of Travie McCoy's "Billionaire" led to them competing against Katie Waissell in the show's first showdown. Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music" wasn't enough to convince the judges to keep them in the show, as the panel sided with Katie 3-1 to stay in the competition.
14. Storm Lee
Storm Lee is originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, but has lived in Los Angeles for the past 20 years. Despite some minor success behind the scenes, Storm Lee believed that being on the X Factor was his last chance at success. That chance was short-lived, as he went out in the second round of the competition after his widely-panned performance of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run," complete with motorcycle.
13. Diva Fever
All male duo Diva Fever took the X Factor camp level to new heights from their first performance of "Proud Mary" during the auditions and never looked back. While they were not selected initially for the main competition, due to this season's Wildcard rule Diva Fever became the fourth group in the competition and made it through to the second round. Their performance of Duck Sauce's "Barbra Streisand" was one of the most over-the-top performances of the season.
12. John Adeleye
John Adeleye was not very visible during the audition portion of the X Factor, but he did end up making it to the judge's house and eventually into the competition as part of the Over 28 category. Despite being a very likeable guy and a competent vocalist, John Adeleye didn't have much of the star quality needed to be successful on a national scale. John's swan song occured in week three, where he lost in the showdown due to a shaky version of Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You."
11. Belle Amie
Belle Amie's existence on the X Factor was one of controversy. From their origin as a manufactured group displacing original groups in the Boot Camp round, to the reports of in-fighting over who would sing lead on songs, these five ladies had a rough go of it in the competition, leading to their ouster in the fourth round. Along the way, they did have a couple of decent performances, including their cover of the Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You."
10. Treyc Cohen
Treyc Cohen showed much promise early on in the competition due to her powerful performance of Radiohead's "Creep" during the Boot Camp round of the show. Despite previously having had a recording contract, Treyc Cohen made it through the judge's house round and into the competition. Although she received favorable comments through her performances, there were questions about what direction she should go sonically. In the end style won over substance and Treyc was sent packing in week five, but not before giving several memorable performances, including a gospel-tinged performance of Prince's "Purple Rain."
9. Aiden Grimshaw
The halfway point of the competition saw its first surprise elimination as then 18-year-old Aiden Grimshaw was ousted based on receiving the lowest number of votes in the week 6 voting. Up until then, Aiden Grimshaw was seen as a front-runner in the competition, having given what many called the best audition song of the series with a vocal cover of Kanye West's "Gold Digger." However, it was his remake of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" that won him universal praise.
8. Paije Richardson
Paije Richardson's first audition in the competition was rejected by two out of three judges, but at the insistence of judge Louis Walsh, he was given a second chance. The second chances continued for Paije Richardson after being rejected at the judge's house as he was chosen as a wildcard for the Boys category. His style was much more R&B based than most of the contestants, and he brought that soulful delivery to music as diverse as the Beatles, the Monkees and Alicia Keys.
7. Katie Waissel
When it comes to talent shows and reality shows in general, there always seems to be someone playing the theme of the drama queen. In the seventh series of the X Factor that role went to Katie Waissel. From the retro Madonna look she wore in the audition stage to the brown page-boy haircut she segued into towards the end of her run on the show, it was hard to tell what persona was the real Katie, and that also influenced her musical selections. One night she was paying tribute to idol Freddie Mercury, and the next she was partying it up to a song from the Jungle Book. Despite surviving four final showdowns, Katie's journey ended in week 8, but not before she gave a moving performance of the Beatles classic "Help."