G4 (band)

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G4
Origin Guildhall, City of London, England
Genres Operatic pop, rock, Swing
Years active 2004–2007, 2014
Labels Sony BMG (2004-2006)
Virgin (2006)
BMG (2004-06)
Associated acts Lesley Garrett
Robin Gibb
Cliff Richard
Stephen Gately
Website g4official.com
Past members Jonathan Ansell - High tenor/lead
Ben Thapa - Low tenor
Mike Christie - Baritone
Matthew Stiff - Bass
Tom Lowe (2003-2004) - Bass

G4 were a four-piece British vocal troupe consisting of Jonathan 'Jon' Ansell, Matthew 'Matt' Stiff, Mike Christie, and Ben Thapa, who first came to prominence when they finished second in Series 1 of The X Factor in 2004. Originally a barbershop quartet,[1] the members met at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, from which the name G4, standing for "Guildhall 4", derives. Prior to auditioning for the show, they performed as buskers during their free time at college to earn extra money and gain experience, and were known for their operatic delivery of modern pop songs.[2][3]

The X Factor[edit]

In 2004, shortly after Stiff replaced original bass Tom Lowe, G4 spontaneously applied to The X Factor with the intention of using the show to obtain a quote on posters for upcoming concerts and gain publicity. Although the band members originally took turns to sing lead, Simon Cowell suggested that Ansell be promoted to the group's frontman.[4][5] Mentored by Louis Walsh, they reached the final, and to date G4 remain one of only two classical-based acts to compete in the live shows, the other being Welsh baritone Rhydian - coincidentally, both placed second in Series 1 and 4 respectively, and outsold the eventual winners. Cowell, who had mentored Series 1 winner Steve Brookstein, later admitted that G4 were the real winners of the competition.[6][7][8][9][10]

Despite their success on the show, G4 later branded The X Factor as a pantomime due to staged conflict between the judges which overshadowed the contestants.[11] Bass singer Stiff also stated "Backstage Simon would say we were great, but then on camera say nothing. I don't think he wanted us to win and by choosing what he said on camera he knew he had the power to sway votes. He is the ringmaster".[12]

X Factor performances[edit]

Stage Song Placement
Audition "Bohemian Rhapsody" -
Bootcamp Original song, "I Swear", and "Danny Boy" -
Judges' houses "Creep" -
Week 1 "Everybody Hurts" Safe
Week 2 "Don't Look Back in Anger" Safe
Week 3 "...Baby One More Time" Safe
Week 4 "Circle of Life" Bottom Two
Week 5 "My Way" Safe
Week 6 "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Somebody to Love" Safe
Week 7 "O Holy Night" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" Safe
Week 8 "Nessun Dorma", "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Creep" Runners-up

Post-X Factor career[edit]

After The X Factor, G4 signed a £1.5 million album deal with Sony BMG.[13] Having not been picked up by Cowell, Sony A&R Nick Raphael said that his label decided to pursue the band, stating: "We felt that they were the best act on the show."[14] With the rules of The X Factor allowing any non-winning band or artist to sign with anyone,[14] Sony competed with Universal and EMI for G4's signatures.[14] Raphael believed their mentor-turned-manager Walsh accepted Sony BMG's advances because the company had a plan of how to work with them as opposed to their competitors who merely had a desire to sign the band. In addition, Sony also had a definitive date to release any albums and merchandise, as well as organised structure to make their records.[14] During this time, Ansell, who had previously auditioned to be a member of Il Divo,[15] was offered the role of Prince Tamino in Kenneth Branagh's modern adaptation of The Magic Flute, but turned it down to remain with the band.[16]

Albums[edit]

The debut album, G4, was released on 28 February 2005, and contained mostly classical covers of popular pop songs, most of which had been performed on The X Factor like "Everybody Hurts",[17] with a few opera tunes such as "Nessun Dorma" and "Flower Duet". It reached #1 in time for Mother's Day weekend 2005,[18] and sold over 245,000 copies in the first week. Their debut single, "Bohemian Rhapsody", was released on 14 March 2005, and entered the charts at #9.[19]

G4 & Friends was released on 28 November 2005, and followed the same format as their first album, but also included collaborations with Lesley Garrett and Robin Gibb, both of whom were special guests during the group's UK tour. Their recording of "Miss You Nights" with original artist Cliff Richard was also featured on the latter's album Two's Company The Duets. G4 & Friends entered the charts at #6, and while not as successful as their first album, it was still certified platinum.[20] Their version of "When a Child is Born", also from the album, was originally in the running to become christmas number one for 2005,[21] but was disqualified due to free stickers included in the CD case.

G4's third and final album Act Three was released on 27 November 2006. Being released in the same week as the third album by the similar band Il Divo, Act Three peaked at #21 in the UK charts with first week sales of 37,487. The album included a collaboration with Stephen Gately on the track "No Matter What", Gately having sung the lead on the original version of the song with his band Boyzone, and an orchestral arrangement of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy".[22]

Other work[edit]

In 2005, G4 launched the similarly-named G Force ride at Drayton Manor Theme Park.[23][24] In 2006, they traveled to the SOS Children's Villages in Ghana on behalf of Classic Response,[25] completed the London Marathon,[26][27] and made a special appearance at the American 4 July party at Winfield House, home of the US Ambassador to the UK where they sang "The Star-Spangled Banner". They also presented a show on Classic FM which showcased their favourite pieces of classical music, along with their own recordings.[28]

Disbandment[edit]

On 5 April 2007, G4 announced on GMTV that they would be splitting after their national tour due to disagreements within the band, with Ansell pursuing a solo career. Tenor Thapa stated: "We did not want to drag on for another couple of years, growing increasingly resentful of each other. We are still friends and we want to stay friends but we won't if we carry on in G4". They gave their final performance at Romsey on 28 July 2007 before splitting.[29][30]

Post G4[edit]

Ansell's solo album Tenor at the movies reached #1 in the classical charts - making him the youngest tenor to accomplish this feat - [31][32] but in 2012 he was criticised for auditioning for Superstar after it was revealed he was still rehearsing for another musical.[33][34][35][36][37] Thapa has worked with the National Chamber Choir of Ireland,[38][39] and was in the Scottish Opera's production of Kátya Kabanová.[40] Christie is now a classical composer, having written the opera The Miller's Wife which was shown at the Arcola Theatre in 2013,[41] and Stiff, who returned to Classic FM to present his self-titled music programme has performed in several operas, and has spoken of becoming a lecturer in future.[42][43][44][45]

Reunion[edit]

In July 2014, G4 announced via their Twitter page that they would be reuniting for one night at the Barbican Hall as part of their ten-year anniversary. This will be with all members except Stiff who is working on his opera career. Standing in for him will be Nick Ashby.[46] The group had previously performed together two years after the split during Ansell's wedding to television presenter Debbie King.[40]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album details Chart peak positions Certifications
UK IRE
2005 G4[47] 1 4
  • UK: 2x Platinum[48]
G4 & Friends 6 -
2006 Act Three[49] 21 50

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart positions[50] Album
UK IE
2005 "Bohemian Rhapsody"[51] 9 11 G4
"Life on Mars?" N/A N/A
"First of May"/"When a Child Is Born" N/A N/A G4 & Friends

EP's[edit]

Year EP Chart position
2005 Happy Mother's Day (The Mother's Day EP) N/A

DVDs[edit]

  • Live at the Royal Albert Hall, released 28 November 2005

Awards[edit]

  • Brylcreem Best Male Celebrity Hairstyle 2004 [52][53]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barbershop boys create popera era
  2. ^ "X Factor Exclusive: Mailfile: The Final 10". Thefreelibrary.com. 
  3. ^ Pascal Wyse (16 December 2005). "We're Jammin'". Guardian. 
  4. ^ A life on the high Cs; Three years of success with an operatic boy band has left Jonathan Ansell with a taste for success
  5. ^ Sad farewell to classical boy band
  6. ^ "X Factor Series 1", Sunday Express, 1 March 2007
  7. ^ Interview with Rhydian
  8. ^ Where are They Now?
  9. ^ Xtra NEC Date for Factor Fans
  10. ^ Rhydian: 'My fans won't desert me
  11. ^ Mendoza, Nadia (1 August 2007). "G4: X Factor is just panto". The Sun (News UK). Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  12. ^ G4 criticise 'X Factor's fake feuds
  13. ^ "G4 Seal a Big Deal", The Mirror, 15 January 2005
  14. ^ a b c d "Interview With Nick Raphael", HitQuarters, 25 May 2005.
  15. ^ Kate Mansey meets the boy band with the manners of gentlemen It's so strange t o be finally famous
  16. ^ Pop hunk turns down Kenneth Branagh movie to stay with boy band
  17. ^ CAN YOU LEND US A TENOR? pounds 2.4m deal but G4 boys are still skint
  18. ^ The Razz: Rap goes pop
  19. ^ Cheesy dance tunes sets Scottish chart apart
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ Boss's plea to get star on new album
  22. ^ Gnarls Barkley, The Odd Couple
  23. ^ G4 test the G Force ride
  24. ^ G4 go for the thrill of the ride
  25. ^ Classic Response 2006: G4 GHANA DIARY
  26. ^ 'Unfit' star drops out of marathon
  27. ^ Fantastic 4
  28. ^ Band on the radio
  29. ^ "Classical band G4 announce split". BBC News. 2007-04-06. 
  30. ^ "G4 splitting over 'boiling frustrations'". Evening Standard. 2007-04-05. 
  31. ^ Ansell: The Man of the moment; Scary role for former X-Factor contestant
  32. ^ Whistling his way to stage success
  33. ^ Superstar reject Jonathan Ansell finds life is far from Tweet after show
  34. ^ Even Jesus can't save struggling Superstar
  35. ^ Jonathan Ansell’s Superstar dream is over as he is eliminated from show
  36. ^ Super cliffhanger! Will G4's Jonathan Ansell get through Superstar callback now Andrew Lloyd Webber knows he has another job
  37. ^ Jonathan Ansell subjected to Twitter abuse after Superstar audition
  38. ^ Ben Thapa - Live on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
  39. ^ Talent show tenor Ben Thapa is all heart
  40. ^ a b Former G4 star Ben Thapa on the band's one-night-only reunion
  41. ^ G4's Mike Christie on writing his first opera
  42. ^ Classic FM in major schedule overhaul
  43. ^ Ex-G4 star hits the right notes
  44. ^ Matthew is back in in town with Faure; Concert
  45. ^ Welcome to the G4 summit
  46. ^ G4 announce 10 year anniversary show
  47. ^ "G4 - G4 - Music Charts". Acharts.us. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  48. ^ a b c "Matt Cardle interview: 'I don't want next album to be overproduced'". digitalspy.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2012. 
  49. ^ "G4 - Act Three - Music Charts". Acharts.us. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  50. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles". Reuters. 29 December 2007. 
  51. ^ "G4 - Bohemian Rhapsody - Music Charts". Acharts.us. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  52. ^ Singers snap up award for style
  53. ^ It's hair-raising for Ant and Dec