There are a few ways life can turn out for reality competition non-winner. In the best case scenario, the weeks you spent performing in front of millions of people pay off: You’ve already got a fanbase at the ready, just waiting to be activated. When you release your own music, they remember you, and embrace your album with a cultlike fervor. You make it to the top of the charts. Who knows, maybe you even eclipse the eventual winner of your season. It’s been known to happen. After all, a TV show’s just a TV show—this is another game completely, the real thing.
In the other, more likely scenario, things don’t go as well. You go on tour with the rest of your seasonmates, but eventually the tour ends—and when it does, the arenas turn to state fairs, malls, radio stations in the third-tier city closest to your hometown. You release an EP, maybe a couple of singles, but there’s a new season of your show on now, and all the girls who screamed for you have found a new you. Maybe he’s more talented, maybe he’s less, but either way he’s the one racking up those YouTube views now, singing those same standards you used to do. People like standards, it turns out, much more than they love original material from guys who couldn’t even make the finals. You tell people you’re recording an album, and you still make it to the studio when you can afford it, but you can’t even think of a name for it, much less know when it will finally be released. When people tell you they “believe in you,” you start to trust them less and less and less. Eventually, you’re down to all that you had in the first place: your talent, and your guitar.
Which is all a way of saying that Harry Styles, the man who didn’t win season seven of The X Factor, is now dating Taylor Swift, and Tim Urban, the man who didn’t win the ninth season of American Idol, is joining One Direction fans across the Internet in playing a song about it in his bedroom. Unlike those bitter 1D ballads, though, Urban’s song is hilarious, a pitch-perfect imitation of Swift’s more upbeat breakup songs. One quibble, though: Swift would never include a line as clunky as “stealing another girl’s tears.”
And, if the distance between Tim Urban and Harry Styles’ careers is looking a little long right now, remember this: Only four spots separated Urban and One Direction’s eventual placement in their respective competitions. Anything can happen!