Dave Karger
November 14, 2008 AT 05:00 AM EST

Leona Lewis can’t begin to imagine how many times she sang ”Bleeding Love” this year — on talk shows, at awards ceremonies, for industry crowds. But, says the 23-year-old, ”I could keep listening to it even though I’ve heard it, like, a million times.” Her alternately feather-soft and brassy vocals helped ”Bleeding” become the first single by a British female solo artist to top the U.S. charts since Kim Wilde’s ”You Keep Me Hanging On” in 1987. And it made Lewis, winner of the U.K.’s The X Factor, perhaps the most internationally viable star to emerge from any televised talent show. Lewis followed up with two strong singles, but she knows her debut track is her signature. ”When I’ve gone to countries that are not talking English, they’re still singing along,” marvels Lewis, who’ll release her second CD next year. ”They don’t even know what it means but they’re still singing it!”

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