James Arthur has joined the ranks of former "X Factor" U.K. contestants who have crossed over by having big hits outside of the U.K. and Ireland, the two countries where most "X Factor" U.K. alumni have their first hits. Arthur's first single, a cover version of Shontelle's "Impossible," has hit No. 2 on the singles charts in Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland.
"Impossible" was a No. 1 hit in the U.K. and Ireland when it was released in December 2012, shortly after Arthur was named the winner of "The X Factor" U.K. that year. Arthur's remake of "Impossible" is a charity single for Together for Short Lives. The song was also No. 1 in Greece in January 2013.
According to the Official Charts Company, "Impossible" was the the U.K.'s No. 5 best-selling single of 2012, with 897,000 copies sold in 2012. The song has sold a total of 1.3 million in the U.K. so far. Arthur's version of "Impossible" was nominated for a 2013 Brit Award for Best British Single, but lost to Adele's "Skyfall."
As part of "X Factor" grand prize, Arthur is signed to Syco Music, the record company co-owned by "The X Factor" executive producer Simon Cowell and Sony Music. His first album for Syco Music should be released by the end of 2013. Prior to auditioning for "The X Factor," Arthur released several albums independently.
Arthur (who turns 25 on March 2, 2013) was one of the seven acts that were on "The X Factor" U.K. 2013 tour, which ended on Feb. 28. In most reviews of the tour, Arthur was described as one of the standouts.
It is unknown at this point if Arthur will get a record deal in the United States. The only former "X Factor" U.K. contestants who have released music on Sony Music in the U.S. are Leona Lewis, JLS, One Direction, Cher Lloyd, Olly Murs, Little Mix and Rebecca Ferguson. All of them except for JLS are signed to Syco Music. Out of all of these acts, One Direction has sold the most in the U.S. so far. According to Sony Music, One Direction has sold about 7 million albums, singles and DVDs in the U.S. so far.