I have loads of shows across the country, I am travelling a lot. I have been so busy so my brain is just on overload at the moment! I managed to get a break in Miami which I surprised my sister with but I had to have some very exciting meetings over there, that’s why I took her over with me.
There seems to be a lot of support growing for you in America – will you be trying to break the American market?
My American fans are really getting behind me, I will be going over there, I can promise you and I will break America! It is happening but in God’s time. It has to be in God’s time. I cannot rush it.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
When I do go to the States I would like to work with Usher, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Chris Brown. I was hanging with Usher last time he was in the UK!
Do you ever listen to your own music?
I love all of my songs but I could never listen to them! The only times I can do that is on the stage or in the studio. Actually, I heard a couple of my tracks in Superdrug not long ago and I started walking around listening.
When it comes to image, the words “compete” and “competition” are not in my vocabulary. There is enough room for everyone in this industry because we all are so diverse. I like to be me, I do like my curves, I like my hips and I love my booty and it ain’t going nowhere, EVER!!
What advice would you give to Little Mix?
If I could tell everyone one thing it would be that they are unique and they are special, there is nobody out there who looks like you or is anything like you. Once you find what you love to do in terms of music then stick to it because if you’re loving it and the fans are loving it then you will have no regrets!
Finally, do you have a celebrity crush at the moment?
The only person I have my eye on is Rihanna. No men, just Rihanna. She is SMOKING HOT.
Indeed, she is. Thank you, Alexandra!
Alexandra will perform in Les Misérables as part of Children in Need’s POP Goes the Musical on 18 September. Blue, Geri Halliwell and Stooshe are also appearing in West End musicals in October and November. Details and tickets!
A boiling hot afternoon in some rather posh record company offices. Diet Coke for Mr McElderry, strong cup of tea for Maximum Pop! No sugar, please. Let’s talk…
Personal – I did a lot of songwriting and it’s the first album I’ve had writing input.
Growth – with what I’ve learnt since Popstar To Operastar and touring, my vocals are a lot stronger now and they’re showcased quite a lot on the album.
Emotional – the lyrics are strong and I think people might cry a little bit!
Do you have a favourite track?
‘What Have I Done’ is about when you’ve ended a relationship with somebody and before you can move on you need the answers. It can be a girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend, family member. There are some lyrics in there that wouldn’t relate to a family member - “lying by your side”…
That would be a very different type of song, Joe.
Haha! When you’ve had a row with somebody and the contact goes, sometimes the most difficult thing is that you just don’t talk to them anymore and it’s ended horribly.
Do your lyrics come from your own experiences?
Sometimes you don’t want to write all about you. With ‘Here’s What I Believe’, the song, so many of my friends had been cheated on and I’d heard so many stories: “he was seeing another girl for six months”, you know. I’ve experienced that as well, it’s horrible when you get cheated on. So that was more taking in information from other people.
Well now they know you’re listening for gossip, they might not tell you everything! In the writing process, is it lyrics or melodies first?
I did a writing camp and a lot of that was melody first, then lyrics. I prefer to write lyrics first because you’re not as limited. If you have some lyrics down you can’t say “well that doesn’t fit to that tune”; you make the music fit to the lyrics.
As your writing develops are you looking to include less cover versions on future albums?
I think so, but with the covers on this album we’ve been really clever and not picked obvious ones that people would expect me to do.
‘Skyscraper’ by Demi Lovato will be known by obsessive pop fans but it might be a new song to most listeners.
That song had slipped under the radar in the UK and it’s so powerful that it deserves to be well known. I hope people enjoy it! Also, I said that if we’re going to do covers on this album, they have to be completely different to the originals. I’ve done the carbon copies now. With these ones I wanted to totally change them.
Well, it’s difficult with opera or Christmas songs to stray too far from the versions people know…
Yeah, those two albums were kind of concept albums so you had to fit to the concept. With the Christmas one you couldn’t start doing a disco version of ‘Mary’s Boy Child’!
The album reminds us of your time on X Factor in that it’s quite a “mature pop” sound.
This is the album that I always should have made. It’s poppy but it’s not overly produced. I suppose it’s what I am! If you come along to my live show I’m very much about not trying to dress things up too much, just belting some tunes out and I wanted to do that. The inspiration for lots of this album was Lady Antebellum and Carrie Underwood and those country and western, hooky melodies with clever lyrics.
On X Factor you were more of a George Michael, Will Young type artist, all about the vocals, etc. Then the Wide Awake album came out and it was very…
…overproduced! It was quite Europoppy with some American pop ballads. I’m really proud of that album, I love it and there’s some great songs on there. At the time we fit to a brief because we’d found ‘Ambitions’ and we were going for it as the single. Had that song not been found the album probably would have been totally different. That happens sometimes. You get a song you think is going to be a hit and make everything fit to it. If I was to do it again I wouldn’t have had the vocals produced as much.
Yes, on ‘Someone Wake Me Up’ there was a really ludicrous Auto-Tune moment before the final chorus that felt rather unnecessary.
Yeah. I think we just tried to test things out a bit. It’s a great pop album but it shocked a lot of people. They were like, “where’s his voice?”
You did a video shoot the other day for ‘Here’s What I Believe’. How important is the visual side of your music? 1 being “I suppose we’d better do a video if we want the song to be played on TV”, 10 being Lady Gaga’s attention to image.
I’m very precise with my image but I’m quite a laid-back, reserved person so you’d never see us like Lady Gaga because I’m not that type of artist and I sometimes feel it does distract. There’s times I watch Lady Gaga, who is incredible, and I just wish she’d wear a plain dress. She’s got such a good voice that she doesn’t need to do “all of that”. Image is important and I got creatively involved in this video. I suppose I’m a 10 but in a different way. I’m very “on” with what I want to look like but it’s not as full-on as Lady Gaga!
You’ve won X Factor and Popstar To Operstar. What do you think about talent shows in general?
People will disagree with this and say “X Factor ruins the industry” but it’s hard to come from the North East and get into the music industry. It’s not as plain sailing as “I’m going to put a band together” so talent competitions are a way in for a lot of normal people who have a bit of talent. I don’t know how that’s become frowned upon. It’s quite shallow to slag it off because every popstar started off as a normal person with a dream.
I don’t want to say “you used the show” but they used that show as a platform to get where they are and it’s quite nasty and spiteful to then go, “well actually I don’t want to be associated with it anymore”. I also think it’s pretty stupid because your fanbase voted for you on that show, so are you calling your fans stupid? I think it’s silly.
Having moved on from Syco, was there ever a point where you felt let down by the X Factor?
No. Simon Cowell never was responsible for my career. I’m responsible for that. He was a business partner in my first album, like any label is! They invest money and put time in and if it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. I didn’t feel let down, I just thought, “thanks for the opportunity. I’ll see you around!” I still feel like that now. If I see Simon there’s no hard feelings between us.
Did it annoy you seeing the trailer for the new series with Alexandra and Olly and you hadn’t been invited to be in it?
Errrmm, you know, I’m signed to Universal and everybody that’s part of that trailer is part of Syco.
Well for now, for however long… Would I promote somebody that wasn’t signed to my label and could be seen as competition? Probably not. I’m not really that bothered. I take all these things with a pinch of salt and if there’s any underlying reasons why I’m not in there you’d have to ask Simon! I’m proud of X Factor and I have no issues with it.
Do you think the significance of being the winning contestant has changed?
Yes. The runners up can get on with what they want to do without much judgement. It’s becoming much more of a pressure for the winner. I work well under pressure so that was never a problem for me! But for some I think that’s where the problem lies.
Who do you predict will do well from last year’s lot?
I hope Little Mix will do well! I like Amelia Lily as well. She has a good song.
How have you changed since X Factor?
I’m stronger, gutsier and I enjoy myself more than I used to instead of stressing. At the end of the day, we’re not saving lives! We’re singing songs. I love what I do but I enjoy it, I don’t take myself too seriously.
Are there any aspects of fame that you dislike?
When people are negative. It used to be hurtful but now it’s annoying. Why would you bother? When people base their opinions on untrue facts it’s the most annoying thing EVER. People say I haven’t sold any records but it’s like hang on a minute, I’ve worked my backside off for two years and I’ve sold quite a lot of albums. But people base their opinion on the story that I left Syco nearly two years ago. It’s like, get over it! We’ve moved on from there, so when people keep dwelling on negative things from the past, I sometimes think, yawn! It’s really boring.
How is Hugo the rabbit getting on?
Hugo is really good! I feel guilty because I’m away all the time and he’s been staying with family friends who own his brother rabbit, but he comes home all the time. They’re very cute!
The deluxe edition of the new album includes a Joe McElderry tea towel. Please explain this.
That’s like a merchandise thing, a souvenir that people can have, and wave them around at the concert.
Has your mum got one yet?
She hasn’t. I would find it a little weird having a Joe McElderry tea towel in my house. It would be a little self-indulgent!
But it’s self-indulgent having that tea towel from primary school where everyone draws their portrait.
That’s true, haha!
Let’s talk Newcastle icons. Why is Cheryl Cole amazing?
She is a down-to-earth girl, she represents the North East, she’s a dignified lady and an amazing performer.
Newcastle Brown Ale?
I’ve never tasted it but apparently it’s an acquired taste. I’ve been all over the world and I’ve seen it on the top of a mountain in Colorado when skiing and in a beach bar in Florida. It’s great to have something that’s world famous!
Oh, I love Byker Grove. I used to live over the road from somebody from Byker Grove and I was obsessed with that fact. The one who fell out the window and ended up in a wheelchair.
Somebody seemed to die every series. It was quite traumatic.
It was very traumatic for children. I wish they would bring it back. I’d like a cameo!
Do you have a message for Maximum Pop! readers?
I hope they enjoy the new album and thanks for the support!
Thank you very much, Joe!
Here’s What I Believe (the album) is out on 10 September. ‘Here’s What I Believe’ (the song) is out now! Joe performs in Newcastle and London in September.
What: Key 103 Live
When: 19:30, 22nd July, 2012
Where: Manchester Arena
Who: One Direction, Little Mix, Alexandra Burke, Tulisa, Cover Drive, Rizzle Kicks, Pro Green, Labrinth, DJ Fresh
Tickets: Buy tickets
Beliebers out-ran the Soldiers in this week’s album chart, with Justin Bieber’s Believe flogging just 3,181 copies more than Cheryl Cole’s A Million Lights. Justin sold 38,115 to Cheryl’s 34,934, but neither of them sold as many units as we were expecting. So far this year, Number 1 albums from Keane, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band, Jack White, Bruce Springsteen, the Military Wives, Emeli Sande and Lana Del Rey all sold far more, with the latter two both passing 110,000 in their first week. Still, it could be worse – poor Alexandra Burke’s Heartbreak On Hold is already down to No.94 on its third week, having sold just 10,000 copies since it was released. That number is just under 5% of what her first record Overcome managed in three weeks back in 2009 (223,407).
Next Sunday, July 1st – sandy knickers, sunscreen and pop stars. It’s T4OTB and we’re going to be causing trouble backstage and bringing you all the snaps, videos and gossip from the day. It’s just like being there apart from we get to touch The Wanted and you do not. Sorry.
Even better, we’ve just found out that The Midnight Beast, Tyler James, Lonsdale Boys Club, Josh Osho, Esmee Denters and The Enemy have been lined-up to perform The Session Stage. They join the never-ending line up of pop talent which includes *deep breath* The Wanted, Rizzle Kicks, Marina and the Diamonds, Dappy, Wretch 32, Taio Cruz, Tulisa, Rita Ora, Alexandra Burke, Cover Drive, Conor Maynard, Professor Green *second deep breath* Lawson, Labrinth, Stooshe, Skepta, DJ Fresh and Britain’s Got Talent winners Ashleigh and Pudsey. Phew.
Follow us on @maximumpop to track all the backstage gossip from the day.
The second album from X Factor winner Alexandra Burke has finally arrived after eighteen months or so of re-releasing albums, promising single releases, delaying single releases… regardless, ‘Heartbreak on Hold’ is here and for the most part, it’s surprisingly good (good in a ‘avoiding second album syndrome’ way, mind you), if a little predictable and forgettable.
The two trailer singles aside (the divisive ‘Elephant’ and the uplifting, 90s-house-channeling ‘Let It Go’), the rest of the album is fairly solid stuff – the title track, ‘This Love Will Survive’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Tonight’ are all upbeat dance-pop bangers that do the job and are all toe-tapping enough to make the next pre-night-out prep sesh a little more fun. Best of all is ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’, an uplifting track that Robyn wouldn’t turn her nose up at and bonus track ‘Beating Still’ which should have earned a spot on the regular edition, it’s such a solidly pleasing number.
The more ballad-y ‘Between The Sheets’ and ‘Daylight Robbery’ don’t fare too bad either, giving a bit of a midtempo breather inbetween all the uptempo servings on offer – and if tracks like the 70s-sampling ‘Love You That Much’, the nice-but-filler ‘Oh La La’ and stripped-back ‘What Money Can’t Buy’ don’t exactly hit all the right buttons, it’s still a fairly impressive album that should bring Ms Burke back to the public consciousness after a fairly long hiatus. If Leona can do just as good a job, we’ll be happier than Piers Morgan when someone in America remembers his name.
There is something not quite right about the No. 30 mark on the current iTunes chart, and it’s not that Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Dance Again’ is on the wrong side of it. It’s that the new, hands-in-the-air-tastic Alexandra Burke single, ‘Let It Go’, is only at No. 28 after nearly three full days on sale. Not only is it on course to be her lowest-charting single so far (No. 16 “smash” ‘The Silence’ is the current holder of that record), but it’s the lead-in for her all-important second album, Heartbreak On Hold, which is finally released next week. If this single tanks, the album will almost certainly struggle too… and we wouldn’t put money on her record label letting her release another. So why is it doing so poorly? Despite being significantly inferior, even ‘Elephant’ reached the Top 3.
Putting the obvious fact that “It’s not ‘Bad Boys’” to one side, our theory is that the promo campaign has been too long considering how little support it’s had from radio. The track’s initial début and even its music video première both feel like light years ago, and that’s not really anybody’s fault but the playlisters who have snubbed it. And why have they? Alexandra is one of only two X Factor winners still signed to a Sony record label, and ‘Let It Go’ – despite having lyrics as clichéd as Louis Walsh’s vocabulary – is an infectiously catchy tune of the same ilk as Britney Spears’ enormotune ‘Till The World Ends’. Whatever the reason, the hitmaker has not had the broadcaster support she needs or deserves with this album campaign, and we just hope her sales figures don’t suffer so much that RCA are forced to reconsider her recording contract. If you’ve got 99p going spare, there’s an endangered popstar in need of your support over on iTunes.
Alexandra Burke has generously released 30-second snippets of every song from her upcoming second album Heartbreak On Hold, which finally gets its UK release on June 4. How does it sound? Promising. The good news is that ‘Elephant’ seems like one of the weakest songs – which makes the decision to release it as a single even more puzzling – and, whilst the rest of it doesn’t exactly sound like the most boundary-pushing effort of the year, we are pretty excited to hear the full record. We’re particularly stoked by ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’ and ‘Between The Sheets’. Our only hope is that Alexandra still has some kind of ‘identity’ on it, and doesn’t get lost in a been-there-done-that LP full of songs that sound influenced by Every Song In The Charts 2009-2012. Still, if all else fails, at least there’s an EPIC piano ballad tagged on the end.
Alexandra Burke’s Heartbreak On Hold artwork has just been revealed, and it’s far more colourful than the sleeve for her debut set Overcome back in 2009. Featuring the singles ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Elephant’, it’s out on June 4th and will apparently also include a collaboration with David Guetta. What do you think of the packshot? We love it, but we’re curious to know why her right hand looks so bizarre… Is she wearing a baseball glove? Or is it a big fork?
Watch Alexandra Burke do a Rihanna and take the tube in her new video for ‘Let It Go’ taken from her second album ‘Heartbreak On Hold’ which is released June 4th. The video looks looks a bit cheaper then some of her older stuff, but the super-glam shouter’s second record looks set to be packed with toe-tapping, bum-wiggling party tunes and is already on our shopping list. Let us know what you think in the comments.