Heartbreak on Hold

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Heartbreak on Hold
Alexandra Burke Heartbreak On Hold cover.jpg
Studio album by Alexandra Burke
Released 1 June 2012 (2012-06-01)
Recorded 2010–12
Length 41:49
Alexandra Burke chronology
Heartbreak on Hold
Christmas Gift
Singles from Heartbreak on Hold
  1. "Elephant"
    Released: 9 March 2012
  2. "Let It Go"
    Released: 25 May 2012

Heartbreak on Hold is the second studio album by British recording artist Alexandra Burke. It was released on 4 June 2012 through RCA Records and Syco Music. Recording for the album started in late 2010 and finished in early 2012. Burke collaborated with a wide range of producers for the album, many of whom are noted for their distinct dance and house music influences, including Erick Morillo and DJ Smash. The album suffered a long series of delays to its release date. Originally expected for a summer 2011 release, the original album was shelved as Burke parted ways with record label Syco, with whom she had been signed since winning The X Factor, in favour of RCA. This transition also led to a distinct change in musical direction for the album, with the R&B influences of her debut album being replaced with more dance-orientated production.

Unable to match the success of her debut album, Heartbreak on Hold sold 6,731 copies in its opening week in the UK, charting at number eighteen.[1] The album's release was preceded by two singles. "Elephant" was released as the lead single on 9 March 2012. Despite receiving a mixed critical reception, the track debuted at number three on the UK Singles Chart and topped the UK Dance Songs chart. "Let It Go" followed on 25 May 2012, but failed to repeat the chart success of its predecessor, reaching a peak of thirty-three.

Background and recording[edit]

Burke wanted to take a lot more risks with her follow-up album to Overcome.

On 15 September 2010, Burke announced that the album would involve more of an element of risk than her debut, after growing in confidence since winning The X Factor in 2008; "A second album should not sound like the first one. I want to better myself and that takes hard work and time. My music has always been pop, but my voice is soulful. I want every genre of music in a blender: mix it together, the outcome is me."[2] On 1 November 2010, Burke revealed that she had started working on the album via her official Twitter account.[3] On 9 December 2010, she announced that she was half-way through recording the album and planned on working again with frequent collaborator RedOne and hoped to work with Bruno Mars, Ne-Yo and Stargate on material.[4] She also revealed that the album would take a slightly different direction compared to her previous; "In terms of album two, I've gone in a slightly different direction," she said. "It's not completely different but it's going to be a lot sexier and a lot more fun.[4] On 16 December 2010, she confirmed the new direction for the album; "We’re just getting down and dirty with the next album. I’m going to take a lot more risks and it's going to be insane" and also revealed that she had a "special duet planned".[5]

On 11 January 2011, she revealed that she had recorded a duet with an "amazing" artist in the US, but would not reveal the name of her collaborator; "I went to New York in December and it just happened, it wasn't planned. At 7am I was in the studio and cut a song with an amazing person, a male artist."[6] She also vowed to release the album by the end 2011, despite embarking on a mammoth 18-date UK tour.[7] On 19 April 2011, she stated that work on the album was "coming along nicely", She continued: "It makes me so happy being in the studio creating and writing for you all, with amazing producers and songwriters. It shouldn't be too long now till it is done."[8] On 13 July 2011, it was reported that Burke had signed a record deal with RCA Records and that the album would be jointly handled by the Syco and RCA Records.[9] On 21 July 2011, Autumn Rowe revealed that she was working with Burke; "I've cut the first record on hers that I ever did, which is going to be on her album, but I can't tell you the name – we did that whole song in 45 minutes. She walked in, I was like, 'Nice to meet you, I love you, let's go'. 45 minutes later, the record was done. Boom."[10] On 25 July 2011, it was revealed that the album would be pushed back until the start of 2012, several months later than originally scheduled for release.[11] This was apparently made to avoid clashes with albums from fellow X Factor alumni including Matt Cardle, Cher Lloyd, One Direction and Leona Lewis.[11] However, Burke took to Twitter to squash the reports, Burke explained: "Just to let my amazing fans know that rumour couldn't be further from the truth. I have been working so hard with RCA to make it right for you all."[12] Burke added that she would never rush-release her album, but if any such delay did occur, she would let her fans know first; "Music should never be rushed. If I feel it isn't ready, then I won't release it till it is. But if that's the case you will hear it from me first," she insisted.[12]

Autumn Rowe and Ben Adams are just two of many producers and witters on the album.

On 4 August 2011, Burke announced that recording for the album had reached completion; "The album is now completely finished. It's got a couple of names at the moment, but we haven't done the tracklisting yet."[13] She also went on to reveal that she was the executive producer of the album too, explaining ; "I've taken loads of risks with it and I'm the executive producer too. With the first album when songs were being mixed, Simon was the one who picked the tracklisting. But with this one, I haven't let anything go past these ears. I approve everything."[13] On the same day, she reassured fans that a new single would hit radio within the coming weeks; "The first single is in the mix. I'm yet to decide which one of two songs it will be," she said. "One's a duet and one's not. When they're both mixed I'll have to see which one sounds amazing in my car because that's the best way to test it. In a couple of weeks it will be on the radio."[13] On 12 September 2011, Burke revealed on Twitter that the single release would be delayed, confirming that her record label had decided to push the date back; "I am so so sorry for telling you guys that a single would be serviced to radio this week, that was the plan but we've decided to take a tiny bit more time as some exciting things have come up that we are looking at and RCA want to make sure everything is perfect. So please bare with us."[14]

On 10 October 2011, Burke confirmed that the album had been pushed back for release in 2012.[15] Burke told Digital Spy, "I'm actually pushing the album to next year. I've decided to. I know I had a big old rant on Twitter and was like, 'I'm not pushing it to next year', but I don't want to rush."[15] She also revealed about collaborations being featured on the record; "There will be surprises, but I can't say what. Hopefully you guys will all be very intrigued."[15]

On 25 November 2011, she revealed that she had been working with Colombian DJ Erick Morillo for the new album, which she hoped would be out before spring 2012; "Erick is a very talented producer and I'm sure I will be working with him a lot. It's not strictly a banging album. It's fun, loud, up-tempo, in-your-face. It has a lot of colours".[16] She continued: "It's very different to Overcome. This one is a bit more womanly, sexier. I've taken more risks. I've done six albums worth of songs. Hopefully it will be out for Easter." [16] On 9 December 2011, Burke announced that, 'Elephant', which is produced by Colombian DJ Erick Morillo, would serve as the lead single from her second studio album and would be released on 26 February 2012.[17] On 8 January 2012, it was revealed that 'Elephant' would be delayed once again and instead released on 11 March 2012. Burke then assured fans that 'Elephant' would still be unveiled next week and confirmed her intention to perform the song for the first time at a concert for cancer charity campaign Tickled Pink on 12 January 2012.[18] On 16 May 2012, Burke released 30-second snippets of tracks from the album.[19]

On 28 May 2012, Burke revealed that her earlier idea of having a features on the album was scrapped after; "making the track listing for the album, I can kinda of liked the fact that all of a sudden my feel for having a duet went. I was like 'you know what', I want people to hear what I've been doing. And on the first album I had quite a few duets and this time around I was like 'okay', I just want to do it by myself. And that's not to say that were going to have some for the future. But, right now I just wanted it to be about the music, about what I'm trying to say and the message I'm trying to get across".[20]

Artwork and titling[edit]

On 13 April 2012, Burke revealed that the album was titled, Heartbreak on Hold, and would be released on 4 June 2012.[21] On picking the album track, Heartbreak on Hold, as the album title Burke revealed; "When I first heard the song [Heartbreak on Hold] it spoke a lot about what I'd been through in the past year-and-a-half in terms of making my album, stuff that went on in my personal life and I'm the kind of girl that has learnt to turn anything negative into a positive."[22] On 2 May 2012, Burke debuted the artwork and tracklisting for the album.[23]

Music and lyrics[edit]

In an interview with 4music, Burke talked about each of the songs on the album and their inspirations, origins and what they mean to her.[22]

Burke explained "Elephant" by saying, "Pretty much Elephant was about a situation i was going through, I was seeing someone, it wasn't really going according to plan. Nobody was talking about it, so it meant that there was a big Elegant in the room. And I couldn't take it anymore, so I thought let's right a song and make a cute video".[22] According to Burke "Let It Go" is about abandoning the stresses of life; "I didn't want people to think it's about letting of love, because it's very cliche to say that. I wanted to people to see and understand through the video, lyrics, anytime I perform it and give the story. I wanted people to really understand it's about letting go of life's stresses. Anything that holds you down. Anything that holds you back."[22] According to Burke "This Love Will Survive" is about "telling you're other half about the love will survive, through tick through thin, through ups and downs, through any obstacles that come your way."[22] According to Burke "Fire" is about "Feeling free, feeling good, feeling sexy. Fire is a track for the ladies out there, when you want a feel good track. Listen to Fire,".[22]

According to Burke "Between The Sheets" is about "Two people in a relationship and the only thing between them is the sheets. Sexy time is always important in a relationship."[22] According to Burke "Daylight Robbery" is about "When a guy steals your heart and you didn't think it would happen."[22] According to Burke "Tonight" is a "Friday night anthem".[22] According to Burke "Love You That Much" is a dedication to her fans; "The lyrics really do speak for themselves. This song in particular is telling each and every single fan that has supported me since day one that I love them more than anything in the world."[22] According to Burke "Oh La La" is about "Making that guy work for it. If you want me for the night, even for the first kiss, money were you're mouth is."[22] Burke described "Sitting on Top of the World" as a "Candy floss song"; "It's just fun, it's young. It reminds me of the past and everything my parents thought me."[22] "What Money Can't Buy" is a song which she wrote with friend Ben Adams at the age of eighteen. Burke wrote the song after coming out of a relationship.[22]


  • "Elephant", featuring and produced by Erick Morillo,[24] was released on 9 March 2012 serving as the album's lead single. It debuted and peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart, with first-week sales of 42,387.[25][26]
  • "Let it Go" was released as the second single from the album on 25 May 2012. In the United Kingdom, the song debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number 33 on 3 June 2012,[27] and therefore debuted at number 33 on the UK Digital Chart with download sales of 11,586.[28][29] In its second week on the chart, "Let It Go" fell to number 74, selling 4,461 copies.[30]

During an interview with 'Digital Spy' at "T4 on the Beach" on Sunday 1 July 2012, Burke confirmed that she and her record label have narrowed the third single down to between two songs. The song would feature a male artist.[31] However, these plans never came to fruition.


Burke appeared at London nightclub G-A-Y to perform tracks from the album on the night before its release.[32] Burke then appeared on daytime TV show Loose Women where she performed an acoustic version of title track "Heartbreak on Hold".[33] In June 2012, Burke recorded four songs in front of a handful of fans for an event called "An Audience with Alexandra Burke". The performance was recorded and uploaded by That Grapejuice.[34]

Burke performed "Elephant" on Let's Dance For Sport Relief on 25 February,[35] Daybreak on 9 March,[36] This Morning on 14 March.[37] KoKo Pop on 17 March[38] and T4 on 11 March 2012.[39][40] Burke performed "Let It Go" on series finale of The Voice of Ireland on 29 April 2012.[41][42] In the United Kingdom, Burke performed "Let It Go" on breakfast television show Lorraine on 22 May 2012, where she also gave an interview about the song and Heartbreak on Hold.[43]

The press featured numerous articles outlining that the UK's national radio stations were refusing to playlist Burke's new material.[44][45][46] BBC Radio 1 and Global Radio Group (Capital Radio, Heart FM) did not playlist Burke's first two singles from Heartbreak on Hold, "Elephant" and "Let It Go". Burke was quoted as saying “Obviously it's disappointing. But what can I do? The main thing for me is I’m proud of my music and the fans all love what I’m doing. They have all been great. I’m no longer with Simon Cowell's label – perhaps this says it all”.[47]

Live performances[edit]

Burke performed at Signal 1's Stoke 2012 Live festival weekend on 16 June 2012.[48] Burke also played a live acoustic set in Le Mans, France on 15 June 2012.[49] Burke appeared at T4 on the Beach on 1 July 2012, where she performed "Elephant" and "Let It Go".[citation needed]

Burke performed at Liverpool Arena for Radio City Live 2012 on 21 July.[50] On 19 July 2012, Burke performed at Manchester's MEN Arena.[51] Burke joined One Direction, Rizzle Kicks, Little Mix and Will Young at KEY 103 Live in Manchester on 22 July 2012.[52] Burke also appeared at Party In The Park in Leeds on the same date.[53] On 15 September, Burke headlined at Scotland's Youth Beatz music festival.[54]

On 2 August, Burke performed a concert in London's Hyde Park. The event was part of BT's London Live celebrations for the 2012 Summer Olympics.[55]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
4Music 2.5/5 stars[56]
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[57]
Daily Express 3/5 stars[58]
Daily Star 7/10[59]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[60]
The Independent 2/5 stars[61]
The Observer 2/5 stars[62]
Digital Spy 3/5 stars[63]

The album has received mixed reviews from music critics. AllMusic editor, Matt Collar described the album as "shifting away from the pop/R&B of her debut to a more dance- and club-oriented sound", which he rated favourably, giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars. Collar noted that the "high-energy electro-house-inflected material [...] successfully evinces a strong '90s house and hi-NRG music sound" that may have been influenced by Burke's mother and former Soul II Soul vocalist Melissa Bell. Collar also noted that despite "deriving inspiration from the early-'90s club sound", the "hot, modern productions [...] never sound anything less than fresh" and "showcases her yearning, passionate vocal style". Collar further praised Burke's voice, writing that she "has a strong, resonant vocal style perfectly suited to these diva-ready cuts", comparing "the pumping "Let It Go" and the swaggering "Fire" to the sound of Lady Gaga and Robin S.. Collar drew further comparions with "This Love Will Survive", writing that "with its sweeping orchestra hits and rousing melody" it "sounds like a remix of a Coldplay song" and that "Love You That Much" is "a sparkling, Janet Jackson-meets-Kylie Minogue disco number".[57]

Caroline Sullivan writing for The Guardian commented that "The album falls back on the Auto-Tuned pyrotechnics and clinical club-pop that has currently turned the singles chart into a featureless wasteland, Burke follows a well-travelled road, losing her likable personality en route.[60] Simon Gage from Daily Express agreed, writing: "It seems to be very little charisma on this new album of driving pop/dance that she insists has an emotional underpinning."[58] Andy Gill from The Independent commented: "The songs (only two of which are actually written by her) cover the well-trodden terrain of heartbreak and hope, while the plethora of producers renders the music blandly generic, another round of Guetta-style synth-stomps and incessant keyboard vamps, largely interchangeable with those on Rihanna's and Madonna's last albums."[61]

A more mixed review came from The Observer's writer Hermione Hoby who criticised the album, writing: "Heartbreak On Hold is a strong argument for a moratorium on songs featuring effects-laden instances of the word "tonight". It seems to feature in almost every track on Alexandra Burke's second album of relentlessly unimaginative house, each excessively Auto-Tuned Euro-club banger indistinguishable from the next."[62] Jenny Mensah from 4Music gave the album 2.5 out of 5 stars, writing: "Alexandra Burke’s second album has some catchy tunes, smooth sounds and great production. However, where this album works best is when it blends the right amount of beats, synths and vocal licks. At times the energy does fall in favour of slower songs like Between The Sheets, but it's with these songs you hear the full force of Alexandra's vocals, without any heavy auto-tuning."[56]

Commercial performance[edit]

Heartbreak on Hold received a mediocre chart performance in Ireland. It marked her lowest performing album to date, charting at number 27 on 8 June 2012.[64] In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number 18.[65] In the United Kingdom, the album sold 6,731 copies in its first week.[66] In its third week the album fell to 92 with sales of 1,565 copies, raising its three-week tally to 10,571, just 4.73% of same stage sales of the 223,407 sales for Overcome.[67] Tonight reached the top of the airplay charts in Greece and has remained in the top ten for four months. Tonight has continued success over Europe.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Heartbreak on Hold"   David Gamson, Erika Nuri David Gamson 3:20
2. "Elephant" (featuring Erick Morillo) Alexandra Burke, Brittany Burton, Josh Wilkinson, Erick Morillo, Harry Romero, Jose Nuñez Sympho Nympho, Mike Spencer 3:47
3. "Let It Go"   Belle Humble, Mich Hansen, Jason Gill Cutfather, Jason Gill 3:24
4. "This Love Will Survive"   Daniel Davidsen, Gill, Hansen, Sonia Clarke Cutfather, Gill, Daniel Davidsen 3:23
5. "Fire"   Autumn Rowe, Charlie Bernardo, Eshraque "iSHi" Mughal iSHi 3:28
6. "Between the Sheets"   Brittany Burton, Dee Adam, Josh Wilkinson Cutfather, Gill 3:09
7. "Daylight Robbery"   Gavin Jones, Marlene Strand, Michael Woods Michael Woods 3:15
8. "Tonight"   Burke, Andrey Shirman, Antoine Konrad, Fabio Antoniali, Lucas Secon, Pablo Rodriguez, Thomas Troelsen Lucas Secon, DJ Antoine (remix), Yoko (remix) 3:41
9. "Love You That Much"   Burton, Fred Falke Fred Falke 3:16
10. "Oh La La"   Crystal Waters, Jones, Ivar Lisinski, Marlene Strand, Neal Brian Conway Ivar Lisinski 3:29
11. "Sitting on Top of the World"   Brittany Burton, Dee Adam, George Tizzard, Josh Wilkinson, Rick Parkhouse, Roy Stride Josh Wilkinson, Red Triangle 3:27
12. "What Money Can't Buy"   Burke, Ben Adams Ben Adams 4:10
Total length:
Digital deluxe edition bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
13. "Devil in Me"   Bryn Christopher, Pete Martin 3:40
14. "Beating Still"   Carl Ryden, Cozi Costi, Nina Woodford 3:35
15. "Heartbreak on Hold" (Acoustic version) David Gamson, Erika Nuri 3:16
16. "Let It Go" (Acoustic version) Belle Humble, Mich Hansen, Jason Gill 3:36
Total length:


Chart (2012) Peak
Irish Albums Chart[64] 27
Scottish Albums Chart[68] 20
UK Albums Chart[65] 18

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Ireland[69] 1 June 2012 CD, digital download RCA Records, Syco Music, Sony Music
United Kingdom[70] 4 June 2012
Australia[71] 3 August 2012


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  54. ^ Youth Beatz
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