I can’t list any prime ministers before Margaret Thatcher or tell you the difference between a tortoise and a turtle. I’ve never read War and Peace or seen an Alfred Hitchcock film. I don’t know how to drive a car or cook anything even vaguely impressive. But don’t worry, I haven’t wasted my life. I’ve spent it filling my brain with obscure and amusing pop trivia. Here are 50 of my favourite fun facts that will almost certainly never come up in a pub quiz…
1. Natalia Kills was Verbalicious.
2. 12 million votes were cast in the final of Pop Idol 2, when Michelle McManus was crowned the winner. In comparison, Sam Bailey won The X Factor with 1.1 million votes in 2013.
3. Jake from Rixton’s parents are Shane Ritchie and Coleen Nolan.
4. Girls Aloud’s No Good Advice was co-written by Lene from Aqua, while another track on their debut album gave credit to Lene’s ex-boyfriend Brian McFadden.
5. The X Factor theme tune was composed by Andy from Northern Line.
6. Samantha Mumba dated Sisqo when she moved to the US after her career dried up, but contrary to pop legend, they never had a baby together.
7. Samantha’s brother Omero Mumba also had a brief pop career. One of his dancers was Jodi from Girl Thing.
8. Ronan Keating and Darren Hayes were considered for Ewan McGregor’s part in Moulin Rouge.
9. Destiny’s Child released a duet with Coronation Street actor Matthew Marsden.
10. David Sneddon is now a successful songwriter with credits including Lana Del Rey and Hurts.
11. Sparx from Triple 8, aka Iain James, is now an X Factor vocal coach and one of pop’s most successful songwriters, with credits including Wings by Little Mix, Read All About It by Professor Green and Emeli Sandé, and the 2011 Eurovision winner, Running Scared.
12. Iain is married to Kelli from Liberty X, while his ex-bandmate Justin is engaged to Kimberley from Girls Aloud. They all still hang out together.
13. Daisy from S Club 8 went on to join a girlband which was signed by Beyoncé’s dad.
14. Xenomania were upset when Javine didn’t make it into Girls Aloud, because she had recorded the best vocals for Sound of the Underground.
15. Kanye West appears in Javine’s video for Real Things. She rejects him for a man who works in a shop. I wonder if she regrets that now?
16. FKA Twigs is a car-washing dancer in Dionne Bromfield’s Yeah Right video.
17. Rachel Stevens auditioned to be Lolly before she joined S Club 7.
18. Tina from S Club 7 was one of the original members of Mis-Teeq, performing with Alesha Dixon and Sabrina Washington under the name Face2Face.
19. George from Union J was an original member of Only The Young.
20. Until recently, the first result when you Googled “Take Me To Church” was directions to the nearest church.
21. Miley Cyrus had never heard a Jay-Z song when she released Party In The USA.
22. Rihanna once appeared on The Richard and Judy Show (she did an interview and a mimed performance of SOS).
23. Lee Ryan is heard speaking at the end of the album version of Fergie’s song London Bridge.
24. Nicole Appleton once lost a job as an ice cream seller because she was knocked out by a falling parasol and all her ice creams were stolen.
25. Lance Bass is a certified cosmonaut and in 2002 was set to be the youngest person to go into space, but his sponsors pulled out and his trip was cancelled.
26. Annie’s song Me Plus One is about Geri Halliwell, who locked herself in Richard X’s car in an attempt to convince him to let her release Rachel Stevens’ single Some Girls.
27. Rita Ora was a contestant in Eurovision: Your Country Needs You when she was lured away by Roc Nation, and was replaced by eventual UK entrant Jade Ewen. If Rita hadn’t quit, would she have ended up in the Sugababes?
28. Robbie Williams turned down the chance to star in the film Layer Cake, and the role went to Daniel Craig. If Robbie had taken it, would he be playing James Bond now, instead of ripping off the character for a Café Royal coffee advert?
29. Blonde Electra from The X Factor are related to George Osbourne and their sister is married to Cher’s son.
30. Matty, the lead singer of The 1975, is the son of Denise Welch.
31. Danny and Mark from The Script were part of an Irish boyband called MyTown who could have been the next Westlife. They finally got their wish in 2014 when they released No Good in Goodbye.
32. When they were teenagers, Aaron Carter was in a love triangle with Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan.
33. Tinashe recorded the demo version of Gentleman by The Saturdays.
34. A rework of the Saturdays album track 808 was made featuring edgy rapper Angel Haze. The song never became a single, but various remixed versions appeared online.
35. Ed Sheeran auditioned for Britannia High, but failed to make the cut because of his hilariously terrible dancing.
36. Swedish Eurovision winner Måns Zelmerlöw used to date Marie Serneholt, the blonde girl from A*Teens.
37. Colin Farrell auditioned to be a member of Boyzone, but he claims Ronan didn’t want him in the band.
38. Kim Kardashian released a single in 2011 called Jam (Turn It Up). It made Paris Hilton look like Adele.
39. US hipster-disco-pop star Shamir has the name of Cocknbullkid’s single Hold on to your Misery tattooed across his ribcage.
40. Zayn Malik is the new Brian McFadden. They were both first to leave their boyband, and both inexplicably changed their names to be spelt with a y instead of i while in the band.
41. Baby One More Time was offered to Five and TLC before it was released by Britney. Five also turned down Bye Bye Bye by *N Sync, cos they thought it was “a bag of shit.”
42. Leona Lewis missed out on two no.1 hits, which were originally intended for her: Burn by Ellie Goulding and We Found Love by Rihanna. Could they have saved her flagging career?
43. Rihanna has also passed up on several hits, including Lean On by Major Lazor, which was supposed to feature her instead of MØ. She seems to be a fan of the MØ version anyway, as she was recently filmed listening to it.
44. Matt from Busted and Amy Winehouse were friends at Sylvia Young Theatre School, but Tom from McFly, a few years below, wasn’t cool enough to hang out with them.
45. Olly from Years & Years is dating Neil, the violinist from Clean Bandit. The original version of Stronger is basically the new I Got You Babe.
46. Abs from Five, now going by the name Abz Love, is engaged to one of Smoke 2 Seven. They live on a farm and are currently appearing in a TV series about it for BBC 2.
47. Ritchie from Five and Natasha from Atomic Kitten got together on the Big Reunion tour, and now have a daughter called Ella Rose.
48. The singer on Sigma’s Nobody To Love is Daniel from One True Voice. He also appears on Dizzee Rascal songs such as Dirtee Disco.
49. Before he became famous, Simon Cowell was obsessed with Naima from the Honeyz and had to be told to leave her alone because she didn’t fancy him.
50. Kendrick Lamar’s surname is Duckworth. A distant relative of Jack and Vera, I assume.