Little Mix covered the track in 2011 as one of the finalists in the eighth series of The X Factor. Following the announcement that they had won the show, their version of "Cannonball" was released as the winner's single on 11 December 2011. Little Mix and eventual runner-up Marcus Collins performed the song during the final show of the series. Third place runner-up Amelia Lily also pre-recorded her version in the studio, which made headlines when HMV made it available for pre-order on their site days before the final. HMV later apologised and stated that it was a technical issue.
Robert Copsey of Digital Spy Blog gave the song three stars out of five and a positive review, stating: "Naturally the production has been given the deluxe valet, swapping the raw acoustics of the original for a Casio keyboard piano riff, fist-clenching strings and the inevitable key change. But credit where it's due, they've played around (or as Gary put it, "Little Mixed") with it enough to distance themselves from the original."
For the first time since series 1, The X Factor winner's single was not released the week of the coveted Christmas number one chart battle. The Official Chart Company announced that 2011's Christmas number-one will be announced on Christmas Day, meaning releases on 18 December 2011 will be new entries in the chart that week. The winner's single was released in shops on 14 December 2011, which means it will have to maintain significant sales numbers in its second week to achieve the Christmas number-one.
The song debuted at number one on the UK Single Charts selling over 210,000 copies in its first week, becoming the fastest-selling single of the year. It is the lowest-selling X Factor winner's single since Steve Brookstein cover version of "Against All Odds" sold 127,701 in its first week in 2005. The song has sold 465,000 copies in the UK as of December 2012. In Ireland, the song was Christmas number one and remained at the top of the Irish Single Charts for four weeks until it dropped to number four on 13 January.
The music video for "Cannonball" was uploaded onto Little Mix's official YouTube page on 20 December 2011. It depicts their best moments throughout The X Factor, and their performance of the single.
Click here to listen to it on Deezer