They usually talk about Steve Brookstein being the archetypal X Factor 'failure', don't they? Sometimes Leon Jackson too. Sometimes Matt Cardle.
Obviously these people aren't really failures in the proper sense, just artists who highlight the central flaw of The X Factor's original premise. Because if you have a show that gives an opportunity to people who'd otherwise be overlooked by conventional music industry A&R system, chances are you're going to end up with the sort of winner who'd, well, be overlooked by the conventional music industry A&R system. And for all their myriad flaws, big labels at least tend to ask one worthwhile question when they're signing an act: "Is anyone actually going to buy their music?"
That's not to say there isn't a place in the world of recorded music for your Brooksteins and your Jacksons and your Cardles, but their potential successes are so different to (and so much more modest than) the successes you'd expect from an X Factor winner that things can only ever really end in disappointment.
Anyway, Sam Bailey won The X Factor last Christmas (it really was only a year ago); her album was rushed out for Mother's Day this year with the worst artwork and least inspiring tracklisting possible. (The album came out just after a slightly bizarre story about Sam finding out she was pregnant in an Asda toilet.) Sam supported Beyoncé as part of her X Factor prize package but didn't get to meet her; a dodgy Christmas album repack came at the end of the year. On December 17, she revealed that her twelve month contract with Syco had come to an end, and that she didn't know what would happen next.
She did, at least, have fun at G‑A-Y, and you can't take that Number One album away from her, but as the years go by Sam Bailey will probably become regarded as the quintessential X Factor 'failure', and by failure we really just mean the act that best highlights the difference between the people who vote for The X Factor, and the people who exist as music fans in the real world.
Someone once told us that the average X Factor voter was something like 50. We suppose the introduction of multiple app votes will have brought that average down a bit this year but even so, you can see how someone like Sam won the show in 2013, and might do again. And we suppose that makes Fleur East's success in 2014 even move impressive.
(Is now a good time to ask where the bloody hell that Tamera Foster single is?)