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Steven Desmond Brookstein (born 10 November 1968) is an English jazz and soul singer, who enjoyed a brief period of popular success in the UK in 2004 after winning the first series of The X Factor. He is originally from Mitcham, South London.



In 1997, seven years before his breakthrough on The X Factor, Brookstein was a finalist on the ITV series The Big Big Talent Show, hosted by Jonathan Ross.

2004: The X Factor:

In early 2004, Brookstein auditioned for the first series of The X Factor, a new television talent show that aimed to discover a star recording artist in the UK (effectively replacing Pop Idol). His audition failed to impress two of the judges, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh, who thought he lacked the motivation and confidence to succeed but the third, Simon Cowell, thought he was "that good" that he asked Brookstein to return the following day and sing again. At the second audition, Brookstein managed to impress the other judges and was put through to the next stage of the competition. He went on to reach the live shows, where contestants are put to the public vote, as one of three contestants in the Over 25s category mentored by Cowell. He reached the grand final on 11 December 2004 alongside G4, and won despite a controversial outburst against him from Osbourne. However, according to Sharon Osbourne's subsequent autobiography, he had gained the most votes in every single one of the live shows. For five years, he held the record for the greatest number of votes ever received in the final - 6 million, but this is now held by series 6 winner Joe McElderry, who received over 6.1 million votes.

2004-2006: Heart and Soul:

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After winning The X Factor, Brookstein was immediately signed to the Sony BMG record label through which he released his first single, a cover of "Against All Odds" on 20 December 2004. The song debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number 2 and then climbed to number 1 on 2 January 2005, staying there for one week. In Ireland, the song peaked at number 11. The music video for the song was a montage of clips from his time on The X Factor, from his initial audition to his final performance after being declared the winner.

Brookstein released his debut album Heart and Soul on 9 May 2005 through Sony BMG. The album was a success, also debuting on the UK charts at number one and going on to sell approximately 250,000 copies. Although Brookstein continued to perform tracks from the album on television shows such as CD:UK, a second single failed to materialise. In August 2005 it was announced that Sony BMG had dropped him from their line-up only eight months after his X Factor victory and despite the success of his debut single and album. Brookstein maintains that the decision to drop him reportedly came after he was offered a second album and to come back on the show, which he declined as it was to be another album of covers and he preferred a mix of old and new.

2006: 40,000 Things:

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After being released from his contract by Sony BMG, Brookstein spent the next year writing his own material and forming his own record label. On 2 October 2006, he released his second single, "Fighting Butterflies", independently. Although accompanied and promoted by a music video, the song failed to chart in the UK Top 75. Undeterred, Brookstein released his second album, 40,000 Things, on 9 October 2006. However, the album also failed to chart. From September to November 2006, Brookstein embarked on a nationwide tour of small venues in order to promote 40,000 Things. Many of the shows were sold out, but several had to be cancelled due to low ticket sales.


In June 2007, Brookstein appeared on the P&O Portsmouth to Bilbao ship for cruisers, alongside The X Factor series 2 alumni Chico Slimani and Journey South. In September 2007, Brookstein embarked on his Great American Soul Book tour, and in October he recorded and contributed the track "Head Over Heels" for Ian Levine's Disco 2008 album. He is currently writing and recording new material. Jack Massarik, reviewer for the Evening Standard, described Brookstein's performance at a show at the Soho Jazz Club thus: "His short-noted delivery, virile yet high-pitched and tremulous with barely contained passion, recalled the late Otis Redding".

In 2008, he played 'the father' in a touring production of the award-winning musical Our House.

In 2009, he was working on producing his wife Eileen Hunter's jazz album and performing at smaller venues such as Pizza Express in Maidstone. He also recorded a cover of Promised Land with the Boogie Pimps which was a best-seller for the label, Liberty Records, reaching number 6 in the club charts.

In March 2010, Brookstein performed at a pub in Cornwall where punters paid £2.50 to hear him sing - the charge was waived if you bought "a pint and a pie", with his two albums on sale for £3 each. The gig was dubbed a sell-out. In May 2010, he was voted the biggest reality flop of all time by 1,286 visitors to second-hand goods website Pre Loved, topping the poll with 87%.

Personal life

Brookstein was born in Dulwich, London, England. His father is South African and his mother is of Estonian descent.

Brookstein has been very vocal in his public feud with Simon Cowell and The X Factor, claiming "there is absolutely no way he would want me within 100 miles of him" and admitting spending years feeling bitter about the way he was treated on the show. In 2005, eight months after being dropped from his record label, Brookstein publicly attacked The X Factor, claiming the show was "one big theatre... turning music into the WWF" and that it was "killing music".

In December 2009, when a Facebook campaign was launched to stop The X Factor's winner from achieving the coveted Christmas number 1 spot, Brookstein backed the campaign to see Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name" reach the top of the chart, blasting Cowell in an online rant. He further attacked Cowell, claiming the latter "ruined Christmas" and that he was dropped from his record label because he "wouldn't play the game". Brookstein also claimed the show was staged and the winner was fixed, and was subsequently removed from the official The X Factor website following those comments. He is currently writing a tell-all book about the show, entitled X Factor Nightmares: The Manipulations. The Greed. The Deceptions. In 2011, his attacks on the show led to him beginning a twitter campaign against the third-place group of the X-Factor's seventh season, One Direction, particularly eldest member Louis Tomlinson, for which Brookstein received much negative publicity.

Despite Brookstein's bitterness towards The X Factor, he signed up to critique the show weekly on London 24 in 2010, where he labelled the judges "ridiculous" and questioned the standards of several of the finalists and the vocal coach.

Brookstein is married to jazz performer Eileen Hunter.