If you want an example of how badly contestants from "The X Factor" U.S. are doing on the charts compared to their U.K. counterparts, then you don't need to look any further than comparing what's going on with Tate Stevens and James Arthur.
Country singer Stevens, 37, is the 2012 winner of "The X Factor" U.S.
Pop/rock singer Arthur, 25, is the 2012 winner of "The X Factor" U.K.
As part of their "X Factor" grand prizes, both singers are signed to Syco Music, the record company co-owned by "The X Factor" executive producer Simon Cowell and Sony Music.
So far, there have been two Stevens songs released for sale since he became an "X Factor" winner: "Holler If You're With Me" (released on Feb. 5, 2013) and "Power of a Love Song" (released on March 12, 2013). Syco/RCA Nashville says that "Power of a Love Song" is Stevens' first "official" single from his self-titled debut album, which is scheduled for a U.S. release on April 23, 2013.
As previously reported, "Holler If You're With Me" and "Power of a Love Song" have flopped: Not only have they failed to make it on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S. (the official singles chart for the U.S.), but the songs also aren't even hits on Billboard's country charts.
Meanwhile, Arthur's first single, a cover version of Shontelle's "Impossible," has become an international smash hit. Released in December 2012, the song debuted at No. 1 in the U.K. and in Ireland. It was the fastest-selling single of 2012 in the U.K., by selling 490,000 in the U.K. its first week on sale, and 897,000 in 2012, making it the No. 5 best-selling U.K. single of 2012, according to the U.K.'s Official Charts Company. Arthur's "Impossible" has sold 1.3 million in the U.K. so far.
And in 2013, Arthur's "Impossible" became a big hit in several other countries: No.1 in Greece and No. 2 in Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. Arthur's "Impossible" is also shaping up to be a hit in Spain, Belgium and Austria, where this week the song is in the Top 10 on iTunes in all of those countries.
Arthur's first album for Syco Music should be released before the end of 2013. The album's songs, title and release date are to be announced. He's one of several "X Factor" U.K. alumni who have had hits in several countries, including Leona Lewis (winner in 2006), Olly Murs (second place in 2009), Cher Lloyd (fourth place in 2010), Little Mix (winner in 2011) and the biggest "X Factor" seller of all: One Direction (third place in 2010).
Meanwhile, the alumni from "The X Factor" U.S. have been flopping so much on the American charts that they've become an embarrassment to "The X Factor" franchise. Stevens isn't the only "X Factor" U.S. alum to bomb on the U.S. charts. All of "The X Factor" U.S. alumni who have released music on Sony have flop sales with their singles and/or EPs in the U.S.: Melanie Amaro (winner in 2011); Josh Krajcik (second place in 2011); Chris Rene (third place in 2011); Marcus Canty (fourth place in 2011); and Rachel Crow (fifth place in 2011). Even though Rene has not had great sales in the U.S., he is a hit in one country: New Zealand, where his first three singles hit the Top 40.
As for other "X Factor" U.S. alumni signed to Sony Music labels, teen rapper Astro (seventh place in 2011) is signed to Sony's Epic Records but hasn't released any of his music on the label yet. Pop groups Emblem3 (fourth place in 2012) and Fifth Harmony (third place in 2012) are signed to Syco Music, and their first albums for Syco will be released in 2013 on dates to be announced.
Cowell and company have clearly given the highest "X Factor" U.S. alumni priority to Emblem3, by lining up the group with top songwriters and producers, such as Savan Kotecha, Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub (One Direction); Benji and Joel Madden (Good Charlotte); Jack Antonoff (fun.); Peter Svensson (The Cardigans); John Feldman (Gold Finger); and Kool Kojak (Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj). Emblem3's March/April 2013 U.S. tour of large clubs and small theaters has sold out, which is an indication that Emblem3 may have a chance of being the first "X Factor" U.S. alum to have a real hit in the U.S.
As previously reported, Stevens has two concerts at the Midland by AMC in Kansas City, Mo., on April 21 and April 22, 2013. (Click here for more information.) The first concert sold out in its first day on sale, so the second concert was quickly added. Midland by AMC is a venue that has a seating capacity of a little more than 3,500 people, so Stevens clearly can draw crowds in his home state of Missouri. It has not yet been announced if or when Stevens will do a concert tour in the United States, so it remains to be seen if he can sell out concerts of this size outside of Missouri.
Stevens has been on a promotional tour of country radio stations, but the dismal sales for "Holler If You're With Me" and "Power of a Love Song" are a clear indication that Stevens' debut album will also bomb. Most "X Factor" winners have their biggest sales with their first singles that are released after they won on the show.
In most other countries, "X Factor" winners usually debut at No. 1 or the Top 10 in their home countries with their first singles after getting signed to Sony Music. But the winners of "The X Factor" U.S. have been utter failures in their music sales in their home countries.
Meanwhile, Arthur's international success with "Impossible" proves that "The X Factor" U.K. is continuing to find artists who can have hits in several countries. There is no word yet if any of Arthur's music will be released in the U.S. or Canada.