Over Leona Lewis
The age when televised talent contests were popular kingmakers has no better poster child than Leona Lewis, an English neo-soul singer and songwriter who won the third series of a British TV talent show called The X Factor and became a huge international pop star nearly overnight. Lewis began writing songs at 12 and winning local talent contests around London a few years later. Her big pipes earned her an instant following in the UK (here toothsome good looks probably didn't hurt either) before she even released her first single, "A Moment Like This," in December of 2006. That single set records by being downloaded over 50,000 times in 30 minutes and was followed the next year by her debut LP, Spirit, which had its songs and producers selected jointly by record moguls Simon Cowell and Clive Davis.