Last year’s series of X Factor was far from depressing for fans of well-sung pop. If you were posted to Outer Mongolia last Christmas, here is a quick catch-up: Alexandra ‘Leona II’ Burke received the highest number of audience votes, pipping non-ugly boyband JLS into second. Both acts signed with the same management team and both have recently released their debut albums through Sony; both have clocked two #1 singles each since then. But which one has ended up the REAL winner? The only way to tell is…

…comparing the Thank You lists on the liner notes!

Yes I BOUGHT these physical albums with money, so that you the reader can find out discover the strange and curious world of popstar gratefulness without having to navigate the tricksome booklets of ‘paper’ that can be found in a ‘jewel case’. In fact, seeing as the JLS boys do their thank-yous separately, let’s display it in handy table format:

Recipient of Thanks Alexandra Aston Oritse Marvin JB
Rest of band X 1 1 9 1
Mum/Family 1 2 3 2 2
God 2 X X 1 7
Dudes at Epic/Sony 8 4 5 5 4
Simon 4 X X 3 X
Cheryl 5 X X X X
Louis 6 X 6 X X
Dannii 7 X X X X
Voting audience/fans 15 7 7 7 8
Richard McGee & Harry Griffiths 10 5 4 4 6
Chums from back home* 3 6 2 8 3
Dolce & Gabbana 11 X X X X
The Sun‘s Showbiz editor 12 X X X X
Beyonce 14 X X X X
T-Pain** X X X 6 5

(where 1=appears first on thankyou list and X=does not appear on thankyou list)
(judges counted only if they are individually named)

*Aston specifically thanks his PE teacher.
**At no point does T-Pain appear on the JLS album as far as I can work out.

JLS also each plug their own individual charities at the bottom! What thoughtful young men – you’d certainly take them along to meet your gran at her cake stall at the hospice’s monthly jumble sale. However Aston and Oritse are clearly GODLESS HEATHENS who might evaporate into vampire dust when they passed over the threshold of the church hall where said jumble sale was being held. I assume Alexandra now has a large collection of Dolce & Gabbana merchandise, which she could in theory swap for some cake off a passing gran. I think the lesson here is that grandmothers and cake seem to play an important part in X Factor contestant liner notes.

But what about the songs?

Oh all right. JLS win on key changes (at least 3 to Alex’s 2) and the ballad-to-banger ratio for each album is as follows:

Album Bangers Ballads Mid-paced Dirge
Overcome: 8 4 1
JLS: 6 6 1

Stop hogging all the glowsticks Alexandra etc.

In summary, I think that JLS’s only obstacle to conquering the entire teenage girl population of the UK might be their lack of readily identifiable Gary Barlow/Tony Mortimer figure – their voices work almost too well together (to the extent that you could mistake them for Taio Cruz overdubbing himself) and without their backflipping, colour-coded, cheeky-smile visuals to accompany the songs, they nearly merge into each other. Alexandra potentially had a similar identity problem (following in Leona’s rather static footsteps), but has gone a long way to distinguish herself from other balladeer belters by ramping up the number of club-friendly tunes. Her voice is raspier than Ciara’s and less terrifying than Beyonce’s – with a bit of luck Alex will carve out her own choreography-filled path. And it’s her album that I find myself wanting to listen to more.