Image Credit: Ken McKay/TalkbackThames/Rex/Rex USAMatt Cardle won The X Factor last night in the U.K., topping Rebecca Ferguson, boyband One Direction, and Cher Lloyd. The finale snagged 17.2 million viewers, which is a 55 share, and at its peak, it pulled in more than 19 million viewers, which is a solid 60. It’s the show’s highest-rated finale ever. Somewhere, a Fox executive just soiled themselves: A 55-share is pretty much Super Bowl numbers. This year’s off-its-ratings-game American Idol finale pulled in around 23 million viewers.

The X Factor shares most of its important DNA with American Idol, but one key difference is that each judge mentors a specific group of performers for the entire run — the boys, the girls, the bands, and the people over 28. Matt’s mentor was Dannii Minogue, who presumably coached him through such rad performances as this cover of “Baby One More Time,” which came during Guilty Pleasures week:

But can Cardle cross over from TV star to pop star? Part of Matt’s charm comes from the reality-show backstory — he was a sweet, unassuming painter one day and badass crooner dueting with Rihanna the next. Is he the British Lee DeWyze? Or is he more like Leona Lewis, the X Factor winner who’s seen the most stateside success?

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