The 8 best meme-worthy moments from X Factor as it’s taken off air after 17 years

The 8 best meme-worthy moments from X Factor as it’s taken off air after 17 years

ITV has said there are “no current plans” for another series of The X Factor.

During its 17 years on air, the show has helped launched the careers of chart-topping superstars such as One Direction, Little Mix, Leona Lewis, and Olly Murs.

The ITV statement followed The Sun’s report which said creator Simon Cowell has axed the programme and will be rested for “at least five years”. There hasn’t been a series in three years, with the show last airing in 2018 when Dalton Harris won the singing competition.

It marks not only the end of an era in the music industry and reality TV, but it also means no more iconic memes from show.

The X Factor may be axed, but its iconic memes shall live on forever – here are some our favourites from over the years.

“Very, very harsh” - contestant Kelly

YouTube/X Factor Global

First up we have Kelly Peakman from Walsall who auditioned in series four of the show (2007).

Her performance of “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston fell flat and Simon compared her rendition to a dog and said she “sounded like Lassie”.

After Simon’s brutal comments, Kelly described the audition as “very degrading” and accused Simon of not putting her through because “he wanted to get home and go to the pub.”

Then Kelly’s father Peter comes marching in to Simon and asks him if he “has a heart.”

Unimpressed, Simon replies: “Yes but I’ve also got a brain.”

Fuming from Simon’s comments, Kelly chimes in and says: “Where’s your brain, in your middle toe.”

She then delivers the iconic line that remains a meme to this day, describing Simon as “very, very harsh” and “very rude” as she and her family are escorted out of the audition room.

Onkar Judge - Earth Song


Michael Jackson fan Onkar Judge attempted to wow the judges with his cover of Earth Song.

Channeling his inner Michael, he threw himself against the set so badly that he almost caused it to collapse. He also hurt his knees as he dramatically dropped to the floor.

His high-pitch imitation failed to impress the judges.

But Onkar managed to get the last word, telling the judges: “Don’t judge the judge because there is only one Judge and that is me – Onkar Judge.”

The first line he sang – “What have we done to the world, look what we’ve done” – has become an iconic meme over the years.

Rylan’s crying


During judges’ houses in the show’s ninth series (2012), it all got too much for contestant and now TV presenter Rylan Clark after he found out from his mentor Nicole Scherzinger that he made it through to the live shows.

Clearly stunned by the news, Rylan began to shake and raised his hands in shock. He then fell to the floor and began to sob.

It’s no surprise that the moment has become the go-to meme for any kind of emotional reaction.

Sharon and Louis being kicked out audition for laughing

YouTube/ X Factor Global

Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh became the ultimate duo when they had to leave an audition because they simply could not contain their laughter.

It all began when a woman called Dawn auditioned (in series four) and revealed that she was a jockey (no, we’re not completely sure why that’s so funny, either).

When they left the room, they staggered backstage in side-splitting stitches and their giddiness caused Sharon to hit her head with a door – which only made the two more hysterical.

Sharon fell back as a result and Louis had to hold her up.

The hilarious clip is still being shared to this day, with people creating memes, usually to reflect when you and your best mate go drinking.

Merry Christmas from JB of JLS


Ah, we love a good festive meme – and this time JB from JLS has provided us with a cracker.

The boyband (from series five in 2008) sang their own rendition of Wham’s iconic festive hit Last Christmas.

On the original track, George Michael whispers “Merry Christmas” at one point and in JLS’s version, JB does the same – except he doesn’t whisper.

Instead he says “Merry Christmas!” loudly – and thus a meme was born.

Each year, when the festive season rolls around, you can guarantee the clip of JB’s festive message will be posted.

“ thank you” - Alexandra Burke


Alexandra Burke won the X Factor back in 2008 and returned as a guest judge in 2011 to stand in for Kelly Rowland.

During her brief time, she delivered an incredible comeback after arguing with Louis Walsh over one of his acts, Kitty Brucknell.

In response to Louis comments, Alexandra said: “You better get your words straight,, thank you.”

The response was all in good jest and the singer later stepped out wearing a t-shirt with the iconic phrase.

And with that, became an instant meme.

Rachel’s audition

YouTube/ The X Factor UK

Who knew that an X Factor contestant from series 4 would still be such a popular TikTok meme today?

Rachel was one of the most memorable contestants from the show, thanks to her confident attitude.

“I’ve got The X Factor because I am a natural talent,” she told the judges. “At the end of the day, I deserve it. I’m just too goddamn good.”

She even claimed she was a better singer than Madonna.

After setting some high expectations, Rachel left the judges speechless (not in a good way) as Simon declared harshly: ““Everything I wouldn’t want – lazy, deluded, very little talent.”

But the audition has regained popularity 14 years later. TikTokers have been creating memes using audio from the audition – but hilariously edited.

In the original clip she replies “Rachel” but a TikTok sound has removed this answer and replaced it with another of Rachel’s answers to different question, with her casually saying “Yeah.”

There was also a trend where people videoed themselves impersonating Rachel and speaking her audition word-for-word.

You can see the trend and videos in full here and here.

(Left) A TikToker impersonating Rachel (right) a TikTok meme using Rachel’s auditionTikTok/prettylilyliar and rachelsmealdeal

Nicole Scherzinger working in ASDA


Finally, we have judge Nicole Scherzinger wearing an ASDA uniform – not exactly something you see everyday.

She was given a tour of a store by her contestant Jahmene Douglas who worked there before entering the competition in 2012.

The Pussycat Dolls singer can be seen scanning items to her heart’s content and appeared to be loving the retail life.

Of course, this kind of unusual scenario is perfect meme material.

It became a particularly popular meme when the Government launched the “Rethink. Retrain Reboot” scheme to encourage people in creative industries to retrain.

It’s fair to say, that whatever the future for X Factor, it’s pop culture influence will live on.

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