THE X Factor’s history is littered with male winners for whom success was fast and fleeting - Steve Brookstein, Shayne Ward, Leon Jackson and Joe McElderry all being dumped eventually by Simon Cowell’s SyCo label.
This leaves Matt Cardle, who beat Cher Lloyd and One Direction in last year’s final, as the only male winner still signed to the music mogul’s record company. Ominously, Cardle’s Gary Barlow-penned single Run For Your Life failed to set the charts alight on its release last week, debuting at a lower-than-expected number six.
The omens weren’t looking great for the former painter and decorator at that point, but the 28-year-old remains confident of breaking the so-called curse of the male X Factor winners. “Nothing is a given,” says the singer, who celebrates the release of his debut album, Letters, with a free acoustic performance at HMV’s Princes Street store tomorrow.
“Just because I’m older doesn’t mean I’m going to get an easier ride. But I have a bit more life experience and a lot more to write about than some of these other kids, so I hope that will see me through,” he adds.
Southampton-born Cardle has his work cut out if Letters is to top the charts. The 2010 X Factor winner is going head-to-head with Noel Gallagher in the race for this week’s biggest selling album, with the former Oasis man building a significant lead over his rival, according to midweek sales figures.
“Noel is quite a legend, to be fair,” he says. “I haven’t heard the whole album - I’ve heard some tracks and they’re great - but I wish him all the best.”
Whether or not he beats Gallagher to the number one spot, he’s just excited to finally have his album out.
“This is where I stand on my own two feet and see if I can really cut it,” says Cardle. “I just want to do the best I can.
“I know that’s a cop-out to say, but I’ve always been dreaming big and wanting to achieve the best I can.”
In a recent interview, the singer said that he compromised himself by appearing on The X Factor. So does he feel the album, which he co-wrote, is exactly what he wanted to do?
“The album is exactly who I am and where I want to be,” he says. “Obviously there is going to be a progression from here and things to try. It’s all drawn from my experiences and I haven’t compromised one bit on the album, apart from the Biffy Clyro song, perhaps. But that was a number one, so you can’t argue with that.”
Cardle is keen to carve his own career, but he insists he doesn’t want to distance himself from the show.
“I’ll never deny where I’m from, that would be biting the hand that fed me,” he says. “I won The X Factor, and I owe a lot to it, so I am eternally grateful for the opportunity it’s given me. Who doesn’t want to be a solo artist standing on their own two feet, though?”
Nevertheless, he is well aware that previous male winners don’t have the best track record - and that worries him slightly.
“I’m a little bit worried, but I can only do my best,” he says. “I’ve written the best I’ve ever written for the album, and I’ll give the best performances I can give. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!”
Cardle says that if his career goes the same way as other male X Factor winners and he finds himself dropped by Cowell, he’ll simply carry on and look for another label.
“I’m never going to give up,” he says, almost defiantly. “I’ve been given a great opportunity and I’m going to take it as far as I can. I really hope this album works out.”
Matt Cardle, HMV, Princes Street, tomorrow, 5.30pm, free (wristbands can be collected from the store from 8.30am tomorrow, one per customer, while stocks last), 0131-225 7008