After winning The X Factor, Burke released the winner's single "Hallelujah", which became the European record holder for single sales over a period of 24 hours, selling 105,000 in one day, and became the top-selling single of 2008 in the UK and the UK's Christmas 2008 number one.
By January 2009, the single had sold over 1 million copies in the UK alone, a first for a British female soloist.
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In weeks 6 and 7, Burke received positive comments from the judging panel for her performances of "You are so Beautiful" and Dan Hartman's "Relight My Fire" (the popularity of which in the UK is mostly a result of Take That's 1993 revival thereof).
Week 8 saw her replace Diana Vickers as the bookies' favourite after performing Britney Spears' "Toxic" and Beyoncé' "Listen", for which she received yet another standing ovation.
During Mariah Carey week on 8 November, Burke and the other finalists met Carey for individual masterclasses, with Carey complimenting Burke on her voice.
Burke performed "Without You" and received a standing ovation from the judges who all gave her positive comments.
She made it through to the final seven in Louis Walsh's 16–24 category, effectively the top 21 of the competition; however, Walsh did not choose her for his final four as he felt that she was too young for the competition.