Steve Brookstein

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Steve Brookstein
Birth nameStephen Desmond Brookstein
Born (1968-11-10) 10 November 1968 (age 51)
Mitcham, England
Years active1997–present

Stephen Desmond "Steve" Brookstein[1] (born 10 November 1968) is an English singer, who is best known for winning the first series of The X Factor in 2004. He is originally from Mitcham, South London.[2]

Early and personal life[edit]

Brookstein was born in Dulwich, London, England, the son of Malle, a council worker, and Errol Brookstein, a lorry driver.[3][4] His father is South African and his mother is of Estonian descent. He is a supporter of Crystal Palace F.C.[5] 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.[6]


2004–2005: The X Factor and Heart and Soul[edit]

In early 2004, Brookstein auditioned for the first series of The X Factor, a talent series that aimed to discover new recording artists in the UK. 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, 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 him mixing up words and lines in his winner's song and a controversial outburst against him from Osbourne.[2] However, according to 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.[7]

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 Phil Collins' 1984 power ballad "Against All Odds", on 20 December 2004. The song debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number two and then climbed to number one on 2 January 2005,[8] going one better than Collins' original and 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. 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.[9] In August 2005, eight months after being dropped from his record label,[10] Brookstein publicly attacked The X Factor, claiming the show was "one big theatre... turning music into the WWE" and that it was "killing music".[11] Brookstein has been 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"[12] and admitting spending years feeling bitter about the way he was treated on the show.[13]

Although Brookstein enjoyed fleeting success with both his debut album and single both reaching number one - "Heart and Soul" and "Against All Odds" respectively - he was dropped by Cowell's management after the latter was accused of refusing Brookstein creative freedom.[14]

2008–2010: Musicals and controversies[edit]

In June 2007, Brookstein appeared on the P&O Portsmouth to Bilbao car ferry, alongside The X Factor series 2 alumni Chico Slimani and Journey South.[citation needed] In 2008, he played 'the father' in a touring production of the award-winning musical Our House.[15]

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,[16] blasting Cowell in an online rant.[17] 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".[18] 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.[19] Despite Brookstein's bitterness towards The X Factor, he signed up to critique the show weekly on London 24 in 2010,[20] where he labelled the judges "ridiculous" and questioned the standards of several of the finalists,[21] including One Direction band member, Louis Tomlinson, and the vocal coach.[22]

2011–present: Musical hiatus and Forgotten Man[edit]

In 2013, Brookstein announced that his new album would be called Forgotten Man and would be released on 23 March 2014.[23]

He released a book on 21 November 2014,[24] Getting over the X,[25] that describes his journey from winning The X Factor to having the press and industry turn their backs on him.[26]



Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales and certifications
Heart and Soul 1 1
40,000 Things 165
  • UK: 3,632
Forgotten Man
"—" denotes album that did not chart or was not released.


Year Title Peak chart positions Album Certification
2004 "Against All Odds" 1 11 Heart and Soul
2006 "Fighting Butterflies" 193 40,000 Things -
2010 "Don't Give Up"[29] Non-album single -
"—" denotes single that did not chart or was not released.

Concert tours[edit]

  • The X Factor Live Tour (2005)
  • The 40,000 Things Tour (2006)
  • The Great American Soul Book Tour (2007)

Twitter controversies[edit]

Brookstein has been at the centre of several controversies for his opinions on the Twitter social network. In July 2013, he defended child murderer Jon Venables against media scrutiny.[30]

On 15 September 2019 he tweeted “The hypocrisy of gay men discussing HIV is astonishing. They don't like HIV being compared to obesity or smoking. Yes it is unfortunate and treatable but so is obesity and smoking. #GarethThomas”. He was criticised for his lack of empathy towards the former Welsh rugby captain who had been forced to out himself as HIV Undetectable by a tabloid newspaper. His tweet was also deemed homophobic.[31]


  1. ^ Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916–2005.; at
  2. ^ a b Steve voted The X Factor winner BBC News
  3. ^ "Smarter News, Analysis & Research Communities". Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  4. ^ "I'll be singing for my mum; X Factor winner Steve Brookstein jumped at the chance to perform in the show after his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer six months ago. - Free Online Library". Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  5. ^ "Steve Brookstein biography". Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  6. ^ Bushell on the box: ITV'S RECYCLED TALENT
  7. ^ "The X Factor Hall of Fame | tombola". Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  8. ^ "X Factor star ends Band Aid reign". BBC News. 2 January 2005. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  9. ^ Steve Brookstein: 'I turned down Simon Cowell's sloppy seconds' - The X Factor News - Reality TV - Digital Spy
  10. ^ Brookstein: X Factor is killing music | Showbiz. Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
  11. ^ TV - News - 'X Factor' winner slates "music-killing" show. Digital Spy (17 August 2005). Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
  12. ^ Remember Steve Brookstein? | Television & radio. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
  13. ^ Hill, Susan. (15 August 2010) After standing up to Simon Cowell, Steve Brookstein is back on track. Daily Star. Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
  14. ^ "the Razz: THE XTRAS FACTOR; Exclusive Steve: Simon turned me into a sad TV wannabe".
  15. ^ Steve Brookstein turns down Christmas Madness cover. Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
  16. ^ Kerrang! Former X Factor winner backs Rage campaign!. Retrieved on 2010-11-11. Archived 13 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Former X Factor Winner Steve Brookstein: 'Simon Cowell Ruined Christmas'. Gigwise (17 December 2009). Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
  18. ^ Steve Brookstein: 'Cowell ruined Xmas'. Digital Spy (17 December 2009). Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
  19. ^ TV - News - Steve Brookstein: 'X Factor is staged'. Digital Spy (17 August 2010). Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
  20. ^ Steve Brookstein - Albums by former X Factor contestants Archived 30 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine. (27 October 2010). Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
  21. ^ Steve: 'X Factor judges are ridiculous'. Digital Spy (28 October 2010). Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
  22. ^ Steve Brookstein questions X Factor's vocal coach. Retrieved on 11 November 2010. Archived 6 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ {}
  24. ^ Getting Over the X: Steve Brookstein: 9781784621544: Books
  25. ^ The book is finished. — steve brookstein Archived 9 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "Steve Brookstein insults women who've had abortions, trans people + many more". Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  27. ^ "Official Charts Analysis: Justin Bieber takes singles summit but misses out on albums". Musicweek. 21 November 2015. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016.
  28. ^ [1] Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "Brookstein releases charity Xmas record". Digital Spy. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  30. ^ "Outrage after former X Factor winner calls for Jon Venables to be 'left alone' on Twitter". Sunday Express. 5 July 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  31. ^ "X Factor's Steve Brookstein accuses Gareth Thomas of 'hypocrisy' and suggests HIV patients are 'burdening the NHS'". Metro. Retrieved 19 September 2019.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Winner of The X Factor
Succeeded by
Shayne Ward