Union J

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This article is about the band. For their self-titled album, see Union J (album).
Union J
Also known as Triple J (2011–12)
Origin London, England
Genres Pop
Years active 2011–12 (as Triple J)
2012–present (as Union J)
Labels Sony, Epic, Syco (2014–), RCA (2012–14)
Website unionjofficial.com
Members Josh Cuthbert
JJ Hamblett
Jaymi Hensley
George Shelley

Union J (originally Triple J) is an English boy band consisting of members Josh Cuthbert, JJ Hamblett, Jaymi Hensley and George Shelley. Formed in 2011 and originally a trio consisting of Cuthbert, Hamblett and Hensley, Shelley was later added to the group in 2012 through the ninth series of British television music competition The X Factor, in which they finished fourth. They subsequently signed a record deal with Sony Music subsidiary RCA Records, and released their debut single "Carry You" in June 2013. Their self-titled debut studio album, Union J, followed in October 2013 and peaked at number six on the UK Albums Chart.[1]

In April 2014, Union J left RCA and signed with Epic Records.[2] Their second studio album will be released later in 2014. It was preceded by the lead single "Tonight (We Live Forever)".

History[edit]

2011–12: Formation and The X Factor[edit]

In 2007, Blair Dreelan of Alpha Dog Management met 14-year-old Josh Cuthbert, who was auditioning for the fourth series of The X Factor. Cuthbert failed to get through to the next round, but Dreelan believed that he looked like a pop star and was impressed by his voice: "I began to sort of work with him on various little projects like just sort of recording stuff because I've got a recording studio in Swindon."[3] In 2011, Cuthbert and Jaymi Hensley met whilst studying performing arts at the Sylvia Young Theatre School in Westminster and later decided to put a band together. Former jockey Jamie "JJ" Hamblett[4] was later added to the group by Dreelan, and they named themselves Triple J (due to each member sharing the same initial).[3]

In May 2012, after eight months together, Triple J and soloist George Shelley both auditioned in London for the ninth series of The X Factor. Triple J performed Rihanna's international hit "We Found Love", whilst George covered an acoustic version of Britney Spears' "Toxic" – in which he also incorporated his guitar. Both acts progressed to the next stage of the competition, receiving positive critique from all judges present.[5] Bootcamp saw Shelley perform Labrinth's "Earthquake", competing against female contestants; Charlie Cammish and Meg O'Neill. Triple J first sang Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger", before contending for the final place at judges' houses with GMD3 (later District3). They covered Chris Brown's "Yeah 3x", but were sent home after GMD3 were eventually chosen for judges' houses. However, following Rough Copy's forced withdrawal from the show, Dreelan was contacted by The X Factor producers with an offer for the group to return, on the basis that Shelley was added to the three-piece. All parties accepted the offer and the band – now a four-piece – became Union J and advanced to judges' houses alongside fellow recalled Times Red.[6]

The band's first performance as a four-piece was an acoustic cover of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe".[7] This earnt them a place in the live shows, and they instantly proved popular with social media users, garnering 46% of all online discussion regarding The X Factor after being announced to compete at judges' houses. In week 1 of the live shows, Union J performed Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now". Despite negative feedback from the other judges, they progressed through to the next week after placing fourth in voting statistics behind Christopher Maloney, Jahméne Douglas and Ella Henderson, respectively.[8] In week 4, the group received the fewest public votes with Jade Ellis, but were saved by Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger and Walsh. They found themselves in the bottom two again in week 6, against District3, but were saved for a second time by Barlow and Scherzinger, with Walsh refusing to vote (as he mentored both acts). Union J were in the bottom two for a third time in week 8, where they were saved by Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and Walsh over Rylan Clark. They were eliminated in the semi-final on 2 December, finishing in fourth place. It was later reported that their winning single would have been a cover of Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper",[9] which is featured on their debut album.

2013–14: Union J and Magazines + TV Screens Tour[edit]

Union J first announced that they had signed a record deal with Sony Music Entertainment at a performance in Cardiff, Wales on 15 December 2012.[10] Their debut single "Carry You" was recorded in London in January 2013[11] and was released in June 2013, charting at number six in the United Kingdom.[12] On 28 January, it was confirmed that the subsidiary label that Union J had signed with was RCA Records.[13] In June 2013, it was announced that the band would embark on their first UK headline tour, the Magazines + TV Screens Tour, which consisted of 18 dates in December 2013 and January 2014.[14] They also revealed that their debut album would be released on 28 October 2013.[1]

Union J announced that their second single, "Beautiful Life", would be released on 21 October 2013, a week before their self-titled debut album, Union J.[15] On 2 October 2013, the band revealed that they are partnering up with Pokémon for the UK release of X and Y.[16] On 5 November 2013, they announced that their third single will be "Loving You Is Easy".[17]

2014: Second album[edit]

On 2 January 2014, while guest editing the Daily Star's Playlist column, Union J announced that they would release their second album in 2014. Jaymi said, "Very exciting, we're about to start recording our second studio album, which is massive. And then I think we're going to write on the album as well, work with some new producers." Josh also said that they hope to "find that lane that [they] want to go down."[18] They also revealed that they felt there was pressure on them to match the huge success of One Direction, as Louis Walsh had expected them to have a number-one single.[18] The band also revealed that they did write songs for their debut album which ultimately failed to make the final cut, but hoped to have more self-penned tracks on their second album. Jaymi told Digital Spy, "We did write for [their first] album and we'd done about 14 songs but they didn't go on the album, maybe because they weren't right. The thing about writing is it's personal but also the more practice you get, the better you get.[19]

On 5 April, Cuthbert announced via Twitter that Union J had left RCA and signed a new deal with Epic Records.[20] The first single to be taken from the band's second album is "Tonight (We Live Forever)", which was released on 17 August 2014.[21] Following its premiere on Capital FM on 18 June 2014, the single entered the iTunes Top 100 Chart through pre-order sales alone. Union J performed "Tonight" live for the first time at Capital FM's Summertime Ball.[22] On 24 August, "Tonight" debuted at number 9 in the UK.

Products and endorsements[edit]

Union J made an appearance in the 2013 comedy film Kick-Ass 2, playing heartthrobs adored by Hit-Girl's teenage school friends.[23]

On 2 April 2013, it was announced that they had signed a bookdeal to publish an autobiography through Penguin Books and Michael Joseph, prior to the release of their album on 26 September 2013.[24] The band commented, "We are very excited to be working with Penguin on our first book and are looking forward to the chance to tell our stories, of how we came together and where we came from, as well as the journey we've taken since X Factor."[25] The autobiography, titled Our Story: Union J 100% Official, was released on 21 October 2013.[26] They also released The Official Union J 2014 Annual.[27]

On 21 January 2014, the band launched a set of lookalike dolls.[28] On 7 February, Panini launched the official Union J sticker collection.[29]

Members[edit]

Josh Cuthbert[edit]

Joshua Thomas John "Josh" Cuthbert (born (1992-07-28)28 July 1992)[30] is from Ascot, Berkshire.[31][32] He attended Charters School in Berkshire[31] and The Sixth Form College Farnborough. He was one of the three original members of Triple J. Before The X Factor, he worked in an office and starred in the West End musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when he was 14.[33] In 2009, he was invited to join The Wanted, but was unable to do so because of a two-year contract with another band, Replay.[34]

Cuthbert also used to be a footballer, playing as a goalkeeper, but had to quit after damaging his thumb in a shooting accident. Cuthbert said, "I played [football] from a young age. Playing in goal meant I broke every single finger but one day I was shooting an air rifle with my grandad and the gun was faulty. My thumb got trapped and I ended up losing half of it. And obviously being a goalie your thumb is an integral part."[35]

JJ Hamblett[edit]

Jamie Paul "JJ" Hamblett (born (1988-05-25)25 May 1988)[30] is from Newmarket, Suffolk.[32] He is the oldest member of the group and was one of the three original members of Triple J. He was a jockey until he was 21, riding in 270 races and winning 24 times. He has ridden horses for the Queen and met her.[4] On 18 September 2013, Hamblett announced that he and his girlfriend Caterina Lopez were expecting their first child together,[36] and on 28 November, Caterina gave birth to Princeton J. Alexander.[37]

Jaymi Hensley[edit]

James William "Jaymi" Hensley (born (1990-02-24)24 February 1990)[30] is from Luton, Bedfordshire.[32] He was one of the three original members of Triple J. Hensley is openly gay and has been in a relationship with Olly Marmon for four years.[38] He proposed to Marmon back in 2010[39] He went to a theatre school with Cuthbert. He has 17 tattoos. Before The X Factor, he did both ballet and gymnastics, but his career as a gymnast was cut off by a broken wrist, and he struggled with his weight when he was no longer exercising so much.[38]

George Shelley[edit]

George Paul Shelley (born (1993-07-27)27 July 1993[30] in Clevedon, North Somerset)[32] is the youngest member of the group. His parents Dominic Shelley and Toni Harris are divorced, both of them remarried. He has two brothers Tom, who lives in Australia, and Will, who did three tours with the marines in Afghanistan; a younger sister Harriet, and two step-sisters Anabelle and Louisa along with three step-brothers Spencer, Archie and Leo. He attended Weston College in London, England from 2010 - 2011 where he completed a BTEC Extended Diploma in Graphic Design. He was studying Graphic Design at Oxford University. George auditioned for The X Factor as a solo artist singing "Toxic" in 2011 while he worked as a Barista in Costa Coffee and was eliminated during bootcamp, but they later called him back to join Triple J and form Union J. He's a big fan of Sia,[40] and horror movies and television series, especially of Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story.[41]

He dated his childhood best friend Parisa Tarjomani, with whom he had a band named Only the Young prior the show, up until the bootcamp stage; when George left the band, he was replaced by Mikey Bromley. During The X Factor he was romantically linked to fellow contestant Ella Henderson, yet they both denied the romance alledgelly saying they were just 'best friends'. During V Festival 2013 weekend, he was seen in compromising photographies with Little Mix's Jesy Nelson, right after a much talked about birthday celebrations at Libertine nightclub in London, but they never admitted the romance. Selena Gomez was also linked to him, especially after his band opened her Lisboan concert, and she left her a recorded video message at the TV show Friday Download, asking him to give her a call, which he admitted never doing. In addition, he has romantically linked to Asami Zdrenka.

Discography[edit]

Main article: Union J discography

Tours[edit]

The group also performed at multiple festivals in UK and Ireland and on OMG Spring Break Portugal.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Nominee Category Result
2013 Popdust Union J Next Pop Superstar of 2013 Third
BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards Best British Breakthrough Won[42]
2014 Best of 2013 Awards Best Boyband of 2013 Fourth
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards UK Favourite Band Nominated
World Music Awards World's Best Group Nominated
World's Best Live Act
"Beautiful Life" World's Best Song
World's Best Video

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Union J Store". Myplaydirect.com. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Twitter / JoshUJWorld: We've changed labels to Epic!!". Twitter. 2014-04-05. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  3. ^ a b Franklin, Lauren (1 December 2012). "Union J's manager Blair Dreelan on "spooky" George Shelley, the Ella Henderson love triangle, and who smells the best". Sugarscape.com. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Johnson, Rebecca (6 October 2013). "X Factor finalist rode for Queen". Daily Express (Northern & Shell). Retrieved 2 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Hot hunks' auditions – The X Factor UK 2012". YouTube. 16 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "The X Factor: 24 become 25 as two groups replace Rough Copy". Metro. DMG Media. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Union J's performance – Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe – The X Factor UK 2012". YouTube. 29 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "The X Factor voting numbers revealed HERE! – X Factor – X Factor Insider". Xfactor.itv.com. 9 December 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "Union J to record Demi Lovato's Skyscraper as X Factor winner's single?". Sugarscape. 15 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "'X Factor' Union J sign Sony record deal". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Daniels, Colin (14 January 2013). "'X Factor's Union J record debut single". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "2013-06-15 Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  13. ^ Corner, Lewis (28 January 2013). "Union J sign deal with RCA Records, new single due out in June". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  14. ^ "Union J announce a headline UK tour starting late 2013". Newsbeat. BBC. 11 June 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "Union J album artwork: EXCLUSIVE REVEAL". Sugarscape. 4 September 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "Union J and Pokemon!". unionjofficial.com. 2 October 2013. 
  17. ^ Rigby, Sam (5 November 2013). "Union J announce new single 'Loving You Is Easy'". Digital Spy (Hearst Magazines UK). Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  18. ^ a b Carr, Kim (2 January 2014). "X Factor band Union J reveal: 'We have big plans for 2014'". Daily Star (Northern & Shell). Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  19. ^ Copsey, Robert; Hornbuckle, Jon (7 January 2014). "Union J: 'We will write songs for second album'". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "Twitter / JoshUJWorld: We've changed labels to Epic!!". Twitter.com. 2014-04-05. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  21. ^ "Tonight (We Live Forever) by Union J". iTunes. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  22. ^ "Union J - 'Tonight (We Live Forever)' (Live At The Summertime Ball 2014)". Capital FM. 21 June 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  23. ^ Foley, Linds (17 August 2013). "Union J's scene in Kick-Ass 2 is released - WATCH". sugarscape.com. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  24. ^ "X Factor's Union J sign book deal prior to first single". Newsbeat. BBC. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  25. ^ Copsey, Robert (2 April 2013). "'X Factor' group Union J sign major book deal ahead of debut single". Digital Spy (Hearst Magazines UK). Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  26. ^ "Is it a short story? Union J fans queue around the block as band launch their autobiography Our Story...even before they release their first album". Daily Mail (DMG Media). 21 October 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  27. ^ "Union J Official Annual 2014 – Penguin Books". Penguin. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  28. ^ "Union J unveil plastic lookalike dolls". Newsround (CBBC). 21 January 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  29. ^ Langsworthy, Billy (7 February 2014). "Panini launches official Union J sticker collection". ToyNews. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  30. ^ a b c d http://www.maximumpop.co.uk/union-j-birthday/
  31. ^ a b "Former Charters pupil Josh Cuthbert and Union J still flying high in chart". Bracknell News. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  32. ^ a b c d http://www.maximumpop.co.uk/where-are-union-j-from/
  33. ^ "Josh Cuthbert Biography, Picture Gallery & Video". heatworld.com. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  34. ^ "Oh No They Didn't! - Josh Cuthbert of Union J was originally supposed to be in The Wanted". Ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com. 2012-12-18. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  35. ^ "Union J | Fusion Festival Birmingham 2014". thefusionfestival.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  36. ^ Hamblett, JJ (18 September 2013). "Guys I want you to be the first to know that I've got some big news...I'm going to be a daddy.... :-) :-) wooop x". Twitter. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  37. ^ Sperling, Daniel (28 November 2013). "Union J star JJ Hamblett becomes father to baby boy: 'I'm so happy'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  38. ^ a b Rowley, Alison (18 November 2012). "Union J's Jaymi Hensley: 'I'm gay and I've never been happier'". Digital Spy (Hearst Magazines UK). Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  39. ^ Wood, Lucy (8 January 2014). "Union J's Jaymi Hensley to marry fiance Olly Marmon over Christmas this year: 'It's going to be a big day'". sugarscape.com. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  40. ^ http://www.sugarscape.com/main-topics/music/1008370/george-shelley-reveals-he-wants-sia-furler-write-union-j
  41. ^ https://twitter.com/UnionJworld/status/365427970480930816
  42. ^ "BBC Radio 1's Teen Awards, 2013, Union J, Best British Breakthrough Award winner". bbc.co.uk. 

External links[edit]