Career predictions for The X Factor winner

01:29, Nov 29 2010

Whether he's looking comfortable fronting Inxs for their classic "Don't Change", or belting out a version of his debut single "Somewhere In The World", the fact is that Altiyan Childs was the most talented competitor and most deserving winner of last week's finale of The X Factor Australia.

Though I maintain that it irreparably damaged fellow competitor Andrew's chances when he was forced to sing with James Blunt; it's hard to come back from that kind of thing.

Altiyan seems to be the guy who improved the most throughout the shows run - he screwed up the words to "Sex On Fire" during the audition stage (a song which most 18-year-old guys can sing perfectly, even while they stumble around a seedy nightclub on a Friday night), but managed to qualify after making up for the gaff in an encore performance.

That's a far cry from the confident, word-perfect singer we saw take the title on Friday night. Back in September, after the premiere, I described him as a "wannabe rock star", but he's grown into a legitimate talent.

My buddy Gareth, the biggest Altiyan fan I know, described him as a "good, solid, crazy rocker, who would be entertaining to see live and has an awesome presence - there would never be a dull moment while he's on stage", and that about sums him up.

The question is: where does he go from here? Therein lies the problem.


Talent show winners have been hit or miss since the format rose to prominence with American Idol in 2002.

Stars like Kelly Clarkson and Jordin Sparks, Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian, and even recent NZ-born winner Stan Walker have managed to make a name for themselves following victory, but more often than not the winner goes on to mediocrity and irrelevance within a matter of weeks.

Think about past American Idol winners like Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, and Taylor Hicks, Australian Idol winners Casey Donovan and Natalie Gauci, or our own NZ Idol winners Ben LummisRosita Vai and Matt Saunoa. The X Factor UK has produced Leona Lewis (who hit gold with single "Bleeding Love"), but also produced stinkers like Joe McElderry and Leon Jackson.

The Got Talent series may have fared even worse - America produced a slew of forgettable acts, while the UK edition of the series is more famous for producing Susan Boyle. She only managed a second placing in 2008.

You're almost better not winning. Aside from Ms Boyle, mainstream artists like Adam Lambert and Daughtry, and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, all missed out on the top spot. You could argue that those failed stars have been more successful than all the winners combined, except for the few mentioned above.

(In fact, I would suggest that this proves the television talent show format is useless for determining who might go on to mainstream success. I spent part of yesterday afternoon collating a table of all the winners from the seven major shows - American/Australian/NZ Idol, The X Factor UK/Australia, America's/Britain's Got Talent - and can tell you that, by my count, only 6 of the 36 winners went on to any considerable success following the inevitable honeymoon period in the wake of victory. If the winner of the show isn't successful, or even the most successful person the show produces, doesn't that mean the show itself is a waste of time? Yet I digress.)

So what does Altiyan Childs have to look forward to? Let's consider both the Best and Worst Case Scenario for his upcoming career, by looking at the careers of the most successful and least successful talent show winners of the last eight years:

Best Case Scenario: Kelly Clarkson. Actually, Kelly Clarkson had the added benefit of being the first winner of a hit new show, so let's go with the first Aussie winner ... Best Case Scenario: Guy Sebastian. Believe it or not, Sebastian has had five albums achieve platinum status (meaning sales of over 70,000 copies) or better, and had ten singles crack the Aria Top 20 in Australia in a career spanning seven years, to go along with three Top 10 singles here in New Zealand.

Not only that, but his latest album featured several tracks with John Mayer and a duet with fellow Idol winner Jordin Sparks. I'd say that qualifies as success, right?

A lot of things would have to go right for Altiyan to do as well as Guy: song selection would have to be perfect, and his management would need to be on the ball. Plus, he has to make sure he doesn't get too pitchy, dawg.

Worst Case Scenario: Matt Saunoa. In case you'd forgotten, Saunoa won the third series of NZ Idol and quickly faded into oblivion (though his debut single "Hold Out" hung around the lower end of the RIANZ chart for a while). The response to Saunoa, post-Idol, was so poor that the network decided not to record an album with him, and since then his career highlights have included performing shows in Levin and being banned from Skycity for dodgy dealings in the casino.

My guess is Altiyan will land somewhere between these two extremes. Though don't be surprised to see him in Levin one day.

So where do you think Altiyan Childs will land - will he manage the heights of Guy Sebastian, or fall to the depths of Matt Saunoa?

Will he land somewhere in between? And do you think the TV talent show has any merit in deciding who might be a decent pop artist? Post your ideas below!

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