JLS in Chicago, April 2010
|Also known as||UFO (2007–2008)|
|Genres||R&B, pop, dance-pop|
JLS (an initialism of Jack the Lad Swing) are an English pop/R&B group, which consists of members Aston Merrygold, Oritsé Williams, Marvin Humes, and JB Gill, originally formed by Williams. They initially signed to Tracklacers production company New Track City and then went on to become runners-up of the fifth series of the ITV reality talent show The X Factor in 2008, coming second to Alexandra Burke. Following their appearance on The X Factor, JLS signed to Epic Records. Their first two singles "Beat Again" and "Everybody in Love" both went to number one on the UK Singles Chart.
The band's self-titled debut album was released on 9 November 2009 and has since sold over 1 million copies in the UK. JLS won the awards for British Breakthrough and British Single ("Beat Again") at the 2010 BRIT Awards. They also won several awards at the MOBO Awards for Best song for "Beat Again" in 2009 and also Best Newcomer in the same year. In 2010, they won the MOBO Awards for Best UK act and Best Album. They also went on to win their fifth MOBO in 2012 by winning Best Video for "Do You Feel What I Feel?". They won the title of the UK's hardest-working band for two consecutive years, in 2011 and 2012.
In 2010, JLS signed a record deal with the US record label Jive Records and released "Everybody in Love" as their debut US single, but it failed to chart. "The Club Is Alive", the lead single from their second studio album, was released in the UK in July 2010 and earned the band their third number-one on the UK Singles Chart. Their single "Love You More" was the official single for Children in Need in 2010 and gave the group their fourth number-one single in the UK. Their single "She Makes Me Wanna" featuring Dev was their fifth UK number one. As of 2012, their debut album and single have been named one of The X Factor's top ten biggest-selling debut singles and albums. As of 2013, they were the 16th-richest reality TV stars in the UK, with an estimated fortune of £6 million per member, thus giving the band a financial worth of approximately £24 million.
In May 2013, after seven years together, JLS announced that they would go their separate ways after releasing a greatest hits album and one last UK and Ireland arena tour. In February 2020, the band announced a reunion, with the Beat Again Tour due to start in November 2020, but it was postponed to June 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
2007–2008: Formation as UFO 
Oritsé Williams decided to get into the music business mainly because his mother has Multiple sclerosis and he wanted to raise money to help find a cure. He was originally scouted for a number of boy bands but did not feel they were right and believed that a group should have a "real" connection with each other, like his heroes Four Tops. Williams decided to form his own boy band and, through friends, met Marvin Humes who had experience in R&B and pop music, being a part of VS in 2004. Next to join was Aston Merrygold, who was once cast in the ITV children's programme Fun Song Factory, because of his athletic ability. Last to join the group was JB Gill, for his "musical ear" and harmonies. They bonded, became friends and together they were called UFO (an initialism of Unique Famous Outrageous). They signed to Tracklacers developing a sound they then called "Jack the Lad Swing", combining the phrase "Jack the lad" and the urban music of new jack swing. While working their way into the music business, UFO instantly signed to Epic Records, before winning their first award in late 2007 at the Urban Music Awards for Best Unsigned Act thanks to their mash-up of "Stand by Me" by Ben E. King and "Beautiful Girls" by Sean Kingston. Shortly thereafter, they released their second single, "Slap Ya Elbow". The group give credit to 'DJ Triz' who produced one of UFO's first songs and helped them write it.
2008–2009: The X Factor and new name
In 2008, UFO auditioned for the fifth series of The X Factor, but had to change their name because it was already being used by another group, so they decided to go with the name JLS (an initialism of Jack the Lad Swing, the style created with Tracklacers some months back). Following the elimination of girl groups Bad Lashes and Girlband in weeks one and two respectively, JLS were Louis Walsh's last remaining act in the competition, but throughout the live shows the judges called them the best band to come out of The X Factor. In week 7, JLS were in the bottom two along with Rachel Hylton. However, they survived thanks to votes from Walsh, Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell. Cowell stated when deliberating that JLS did not deserve to be in the bottom two. In the quarter-final, JLS performed "...Baby One More Time" and received negative comments from two of the four judges, with Cowell saying "at the moment you're out", but after their second performance, "You Light Up My Life", Cowell commented that they were "back in the race" and that they could "have a hit record" with the performance.
In the semi-final, JLS performed "Umbrella" and "I'm Already There". Cowell then predicted they would win the competition. They made it to the final and performed their own version of the winner's song, "Hallelujah", which the other finalist Alexandra Burke also performed. The public voted for the second time that night and Burke won the competition, JLS coming second. They were the fourth band to make the final. JLS's manager thought the band would be well suited to Epic Records, with whom they signed a record contract in January 2009.
As soon as the contract was signed, Epic A&Rs Nick Raphael and Jo Charrington began album preparation by contacting the pop songwriters and producers who they thought to be the best in the industry. These included Steve Mac, Wayne Hector, J.R. Rotem and DEEKAY. When they went to see Mac he played them "Beat Again", a song he had written with Hector, and the pair enthusiastically agreed that it was perfect for JLS. Charrington said: "Once you've got that special song everything else seems to fall into place." The song was released as the debut single in July, only six months after the band had signed with the label. It reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart on 19 July 2009. On 9 November 2009 JLS released their eponymously titled debut album, JLS. The album debuted at No. 1 on the UK Album Chart, selling over 1 million copies and named the sixth best selling album in the UK during 2009, only being released for 8 weeks before the list was compiled. Their second single "Everybody in Love", released on 2 November 2009, also topped the UK Singles Chart. Their third single, "One Shot", peaked at number six despite a physical release; however, it did stay in the charts for a number of weeks despite the drop. Due to the success of their album, the group went on their first headline tour, with twenty-five dates around the UK and Ireland. The group also became the first The X Factor contestants to win a BRIT Award in 2010, winning the British Breakthrough and Best British Single for "Beat Again". Jay-Z predicted that they would become as big as 'N Sync.
In the beginning of 2010, a bidding war was underway between (US-based) Epic Records and Jive Records to sign JLS to an American deal. The group settled with Jive Records, while continuing to remain with their native signing on Sony Music UK's Epic Records. As of August 2010, the album has sold over 1.2 million copies and has been certified 4x Platinum in the UK. The album was released as a six-track EP in the United States, featuring tracks "Beat Again", "Everybody in Love", "One Shot", "Only Tonight" and "Close to You" from the UK edition of the album, along with "The Club Is Alive" from the second UK album. It was released on 3 August 2010 and JLS also won two awards at the BT Digital Music Awards 2010 winning Best Group and Best Video for "Everybody in Love" .
2010–11: Outta This World
In an interview with HitQuarters recorded in March, producer-songwriter Steve Mac said he was currently at work writing for the second JLS album, Another album contributor, Lucas Secon, said that the style of songs he worked on for the album were "a little more acoustic", prefiguring what he sees as a pop music trend shift from synthetic sounds to a more live approach. Songwriter-producer Chris Braide confirmed in August that he had just written and produced two tracks for the album. Braide said that he composed "skeleton" versions of the songs by himself, and then two members of JLS then came into his London studio to help complete them. One song was written and recorded within the space of a day.
"The Club Is Alive" was announced as the lead single in April and released on 4 July 2010. The group promoted the single on Britain's Got Talent and GMTV. The single debuted at number one, becoming the group's third UK number one single. Then reports suggested that a second single, "Ay Mama", was to be released in United States on 14 September 2010 and was set to feature Barbadian singer-songwriter Shontelle. However the group told Digital Spy that although a song had been recorded with Shontelle, it was never confirmed for the album. On 16 September 2010 the group unveiled the second single, "Love You More" and was a BBC Children in Need single. It was their 4th UK number-one. The group wrote the song with Toby Gad and Wayne Hector. Outta This World was released on 22 November 2010 and debuted at number 2 on the UK Albums Chart selling 152,000 copies, being held off the number 1 spot by the second-week sales of Take That's record breaking Progress album. The album's third single "Eyes Wide Shut" was remixed to feature Tinie Tempah, and has so far reached number eight on the UK Singles Chart.
Merrygold said that the group had teamed up with Bruno Mars for songs on the third album, and had spoken about the possibility of working with Usher or Rihanna. On 7 January 2011 the album was certified double platinum by BPI, representing sales of over 600,000 in the UK.
2011–2012: Jukebox and Evolution
JLS began working on their third album, Jukebox in March 2011. In May 2011 it was confirmed that the first single will feature American singer-songwriter Dev, and is titled "She Makes Me Wanna". The song was produced by BeatGeek, Jimmy Joker, Teddy Sky, who are part of RedOne's production company, after the group bid £30,000 for a recording session with the producer at Alicia Keys' Black Charity Ball in 2010. It was serviced to radio stations on 25 May 2011, while it was released for digital download on 24 July 2011. The album was released on 14 November 2011, and the band will embark on another UK arena tour in support of the album in March and April 2012. On 15 September, JLS announced that "Take a Chance on Me" would be their second single from their album Jukebox. It was released on 4 November 2011, and charted at number two on the UK Singles Chart. The song was written by Emile Ghantous, Frankie Bautista, Nasri Atweh, and Nick Turpin. The band's third single "Do You Feel What I Feel?" was released on 1 January 2012 and became their lowest-charting single to date, peaking at number sixteen. The album charted at number 2 on the UK Album Charts, making it the second consecutive album to miss the number 1 spot, and entered the Irish Album Charts at number 5.
In 2012, JLS recorded the official Sport Relief charity single, "Proud". It was released on 18 March 2012. The song was co-written with Daniel Davidsen, Jason Gill, Cutfather and Ali Tennant, who also worked on the Jukebox album. The band were among the performers at the Diamond Jubilee concert held outside Buckingham Palace on 4 June 2012. On 7 June 2012, they performed at the Royal Albert Hall for the Rays of Sunshine concert, which grants wishes for seriously ill youngsters in the UK aged 3–18 years old. On 8 June 2012, they were announced to perform at the iTunes Festival 2012, along with The X Factor alumni Olly Murs, One Direction and Rebecca Ferguson.
On 21 August 2012, JLS began filming a music video for "Hottest Girl in the World", the lead single from their fourth album. On 25 August, the band announced that their upcoming fourth album would be called Evolution. The album will be released on 5 November. On the direction of the album Merrygold said; "We didn't go by any kind of guidelines or anything like that, we just made what felt right and we're really excited about it." The band also confirmed that a Deluxe version of the LP will be available that will feature bonus and unreleased tracks. Producers on the album include chart-topping US studio bods Rodney Jerkins, Bangladesh, and Midi Mafia. On 6 September, they premiered the lead single, "Hottest Girl in the World", on BBC Radio 1. The single was released on 21 October and debuted at number 6 on the UK Singles Chart.
2013: Goodbye – The Greatest Hits and split
On 14 December 2012, JLS were invited to Friday Download as special guests. On 17 December, Humes revealed that the group were to release a follow-up album to Evolution in 2013. On 1 February 2013, it was confirmed that, work on what would have been their fifth studio album, had begun.
On 24 April 2013, JLS released a statement on their official website announcing that they would be splitting up after releasing their greatest hits collection and completing their third and final arena tour. On 24 April 2013, the band confirmed plans to release Goodbye – The Greatest Hits in late 2013, which would be preceded by a new single to coincide with their farewell arena tour across the UK. It was confirmed on 26 September that their final single will be called "Billion Lights", which was released on 17 November 2013 and charted at number 19 on the UK Singles Chart.
2020–present: Reunion and Beat Again Tour
In November 2019, it was reported that JLS would return as a band after six years, with plans to launch a tour and release new music. This was confirmed on 12 February 2020, when JLS announced their reformation for a reunion tour called the Beat Again Tour.
At their X Factor audition in 2008, JLS stated that they aspired to be like groups like Take That, Boyz II Men, Westlife and Jodeci. Other influences include Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Take 6, Will.i.am, The Temptations, Bell Biv DeVoe, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Richie and The Police. Aston Merrygold has cited Usher, Michael Jackson, Mario, Beyoncé, Chris Brown and Boyz II Men as influences. Marvin Humes cites Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Ne-Yo, Mariah Carey, Prince, Boyz II Men, Justin Timberlake and Craig David as influences. JB Gill cites Michael Jackson, Beyonce and Lionel Richie as influences.
As well as appearing on numerous TV programmes for promotion of their albums/singles, JLS have had two special TV shows of their own broadcast. The first was an hour-long documentary for ITV2, titled JLS Revealed, which first aired on 7 November 2009. The documentary followed them in the year after they had finished second in The X Factor, capturing them as they toured with Lemar, released their singles and attended the MOBO Awards amongst other highlights. The second show was an hour-long entertainment show for ITV titled This Is JLS, which first aired on 11 December 2010 before the first show of that year's X Factor final. Filmed before a live studio audience, the band performed all of their hits, tracks from the Outta This World album and a special duet with Kylie Minogue on her hit song "All the Lovers", as well as partaking in surprise hidden camera stunts for lucky fans who had been invited to be in the audience for the show.
The group have also released their own documentary film titled JLS: Eyes Wide Open 3D, making them the first British music act to release a 3D film. Filmed at The O2 Arena during the tour for their second album Outta This World in December 2010/January 2011, and incorporated with documentary footage shot by Ben Winston and Andy Morahan, it was shown exclusively for three days only from 3 June 2011 in over 300 UK cinemas. Due to many cinemas selling out tickets for the initial weekend, additional screenings were made in cinemas for the following weekend from 10 June 2011, thus, more tickets were available to buy online or on the day of screening. It opened at number 5 in the UK Box Office chart, raking in £463,914 from three June weekend screenings alone. A DVD of the film was released on 5 December 2011. JLS also created a one-off Christmas special TV programme called A Very JLS Christmas, in which various celebrities appeared such as Alesha Dixon.
On 28 June 2013, JLS appeared on The Million Pound Drop, playing for charity.
|7 November 2009||"JLS Revealed"||themselves||TV special ITV|
|December 2008||The X Factor||Runners up, ITV|
|11 December 2010||"This Is JLS"||TV Special ITV2||Kylie Minogue|
|December 2013||"A Very JLS Christmas"||Christmas special||Alesha Dixon|
|28 June 2013||"The Million Pound Drop"||Playing for charity|
|December 2013||"Greatest Hits Tour"||Farewell Tour The O2 Arena|
|March 2020||"Saturday Night Takeaway"||End of the show Guest|
Products and endorsements
They have also had two best-selling books published, with both featuring photography from the renowned fashion photographer Dean Freeman. The first, Our Story So Far, was published through HarperCollins in September 2009, and went on to become a Sunday Times best-seller. The second, entitled Just Between Us: Our Private Diary, was also published through HarperCollins in September 2010, and was again a best-seller in the run up to Christmas that year.
In addition to launching their own clothing line, and the usual merchandising of calendars, posters etc., JLS have also released branded condoms with Durex under the campaign line "Just Love Safe", as part of a charitable organisation they have established called the JLS Foundation, where they are working together with sexual health charities such as Brook to raise awareness of practising safe sex and family planning. The initiative was launched at a press conference in September 2010. Individually, the band have also become patrons for different charities, namely Beatbullying (Merrygold), Childline (Humes), Rays of Sunshine Children's Charity (Gill) and National MS Society (Williams). Williams was awarded by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain with the "Inspiration Award" in April 2010 for his work for the charity.
In January 2011 it was announced that they and Alexandra Burke have worked together to create brand new fashion line, 2KX. Burke and JLS stated, "We are eagerly waiting for the first stocks of the ultra-hyped menswear and womenswear range, due very soon." To coincide with the launch of their third album "Jukebox", they will feature in their very own edition of 'TheirMag', a newly formed sister publication to Rio Ferdinand's "#5" magazine.
In March 2012, they launched their first fragrance, Kiss. All four of the band members worked with perfume designer Azzi Glasser to form the scent. In February 2013, they launched their second fragrance, Love, which scent ranges from hints of jasmine, white tea, pink orchid and orange-blossom.
In 2010 the group founded "The JLS Foundation" a foundation that sets out to raise money for 6 different charities: Cancer Research UK, Rays of Sunshine, Brook, Childline, Beat Bullying and the MS Society. Despite the split, the foundation still exists and all members are still committed to continue the foundation.
JLS have appeared on every Children in need night since 2010. All sales from the JLS number one single Love You More went to Children in Need. In 2011 Merrygold did a VT for the charity in which he met seven-year-old Emily who suffers from Osteogenesis imperfecta. In 2012 JLS performed at the "children in need rocks Manchester" concert performing Take a Chance on Me. In 2013 Aston appeared on Children In Need for the last time as a member of JLS where the group sang a medley of JLS songs at the EastEnders set.
In 2012 all the band members visited Uganda for Sport Relief appearing in emotional VT's across the night. The same year JLS released the official sport relief Charity single "Proud", which peaked at number 6 in the chart, as well as hosting a special charity concert "JLS sing for Sport Relief" and doing the Sport Relief Mile.
In total JLS have appeared in 5 charity singles: A cover of Mariah Carey's "Hero" as part of the X Factor 2008 finalists (for Help for Heroes), Wishing on a Star X Factor finalists featuring JLS and One Direction (for organisation Together for Short Lives) "Love You More" (for Children in Need), "Proud" (for Sport Relief) and "Everybody Hurts" (for Helping Haiti). Four out of 5 of these charity singles got to number one on the UK singles chart.
Oritsé Jolomi Matthew Soloman Williams (born 27 November 1986) attended St Edwards School in West London, where he was known as Music Boy. He has two brothers and one sister. When he was 12, his mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He had to care for his brothers and sister whilst attending schools and clubs. He attended the British International School in Lagos, Nigeria. Here he befriended English/Nigerian singer L Marshall (who also attended the school in Lagos) and won his first talent show performing alongside L in his final year. He also attended Larmenier Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School and Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. Williams dreamed of being a solo artist from a very young age. He was recruited for many boy bands but believed that a good boy band had to have a good bond between the members. He decided to put together his own boy band, UFO, who later changed their name to JLS (there was another British rock band already called UFO). He also wrote the song "Wow Oh Wow" for Jedward.
Williams released his debut single "Waterline" featuring Pusha T in June 2015.
He was accused of rape in December 2016, but was in May 2019 found not guilty.
Marvin Richard James Humes (born 18 March 1985 in Greenwich, London, England) is the oldest member of the band. Humes was previously a member of another band called VS, created by Blue member Simon Webbe, but they split shortly after releasing an album. After meeting future fellow band member Aston Merrygold, Humes joined UFO. Humes appeared in Holby City on the BBC for three years from 2000 to 2003, playing Robbie Waring for 14 episodes. At the age of 14 he starred in a children's programme called K-Club, which helped people with computers and how they work. Humes has been in a public relationship with Rochelle Wiseman since March 2010. They got engaged on 31 December 2011 and married on 27 July 2012 at Blenheim Palace. It was announced on Twitter on 22 November 2012 that they were expecting their first child and, on 20 May 2013, Rochelle gave birth to their daughter Alaia-Mai. The couple's second child, a daughter called Valentina Raine, was born on 10 March 2017.
He currently hosts The Hit List on BBC One alongside his wife, Rochelle.
Jonathan Benjamin "JB" Gill (born 7 December 1986) is the son of Cynthia and Keith Gill, and has one brother called Neequaye. Gill spent the first five years of his life living in Antigua, discovering his musical talent at a very early age. After completing his exams at university, he decided to audition for The X Factor in 2008. It was at this point that he came into contact with the other members of JLS. Gill grew up, mostly, in Croydon and began making music at the age of seven when he played the recorder, piano, flute and guitar. At the age of nine, he joined the choir and went on to perform at the local church. Gill concentrated on his music and began studying at The Centre for Young Musicians (CYM).
After leaving the CYM, Gill stayed involved with the school music scene. He was involved with the choir at school. He continued this until he was 15 but had to give it up due to the pressures from the school to concentrate on his rugby career; he was involved with London Irish rugby club until he was 18. Gill eventually decided that he wanted to sing rather than play rugby and melon took up vocal coaching during a year out before attending university. During this period, Gill was contacted by Oritse to try out for the band because of his musical ear and attention to harmonies. He studied theology at King's College London, staying in halls in Russell Square, before dropping out to pursue a music career.
In December 2012, he won the Christmas Special edition of the BBC program Strictly Come Dancing, performing the Jive with Ola Jordan. Gill is now an owner of a farm in Scotland and he will take a pause from music and start a different life as a farmer.
In January 2014, it was revealed that JB would team up with DJ and music producer Charlie Hedges to release his debut solo single "Best Night of My Life", making him the first member of JLS to release solo material.
In late 2008, Gill began dating backing dancer Chloe Tangney. In January 2014, the couple announced their engagement and married on 3 May 2014. On 19 September 2014, the couple welcomed a baby boy, Ace Jeremiah Gill. In July 2018, their daughter Chiara Sapphire Gill was born.
He now presents a television show on children's channel CBeebies, called 'Down on the Farm'.
Aston Iain Merrygold (born 13 February 1988 in Peterborough, England) was born to a Jamaican father and an Anglo-Irish mother. He is one of seven children; he has five brothers and one sister. He was born and raised in Peterborough, where he attended Jack Hunt School. In 2002, Merrygold entered Stars in Their Eyes where he appeared as Michael Jackson, singing "Rockin' Robin" and finished in second place. He came in second yet again with JLS on The X Factor at age 20. Aston performed in school productions and, after leaving school in 2004, was cast in a new ITV programme, Fun Song Factory alongside children's TV presenter Laura Hamilton. In the show, Merrygold played the character "Cookie". Whilst still attending secondary school, he played football on behalf of England in the European Youth Games. His initial aspiration was to play football professionally. However, after developing a nerve problem in his left foot, he tried singing and acting instead. Through acting, he met Humes. As a result, he received a call from Williams (an acquaintance of Humes) about joining a boy band.
Aston worked on his debut solo album Showstopper for a planned mid-2016 release, but it remains unreleased. The lead single of the album, "Get Stupid" was released on 24 July 2015.
In August 2017, Merrygold was announced as a contestant for the fifteenth series of Strictly Come Dancing. Merrygold was eliminated on 5 November 2017, coming in tenth place.
In December 2018, Aston reunited with dance partner Janette Manrara for Strictly's Christmas Special. The pair went on to perform the Jive to Cee Lo Green's What Christmas Means to Me. Merrygold scored a perfect score of 40 and the pair won the tv special.
He is engaged to dancer Sarah Lou Richards and their son, Grayson Jax Merrygold was born on 30 January 2018.
Awards and nominations
|2007||Urban Music Awards||Best Unsigned||Won|||
|2009||2009 BRIT Awards||Best British Single||"Hero" (with The X Factor finalists)||Nominated|||
|MOBO Awards||Best UK Newcomer||Won|||
|Best Song||"Beat Again"||Won|||
|BBC Switch Live Awards||Switch's Outstanding Artist||Won|||
|Prom King||Aston Merrygold||Nominated|||
|Virgin Media Music Awards||Best Group||Nominated|||
|Best Track||"Beat Again"||Nominated|||
|Hottest Male||Aston Merrygold||Nominated|
|2010||2010 BRIT Awards||British Group||Nominated|
|British Single||"Beat Again"||Won|
|Shockwave NME Awards||Worst Band||Nominated|||
|BT Digital Music Awards||Best Group||Won|||
|Best Video||"Everybody in Love"||Won|||
|MOBO Awards||Best UK Act||Won|||
|Urban Music Awards||Best R&B Act||Won|||
|2011||BT Digital Music Awards||Best Group||Won|||
|Best Video||"Eyes Wide Shut"||Won|||
|Best Fansite||"Eyes Wide Shut"||Nominated|||
|2012||MOBO Awards||Best Video||"Do You Feel What I Feel?"||Won|||
|2013||Virgin Media Awards||Best Group||JLS||Nominated|
- JLS: The Theatre Tour (2010)
- Outta This World Tour (2010 - 2011)
- 4th Dimensions Tour (2012)
- Goodbye: The Greatest Hits Tour (2013) (originally known as the "Evolution Tour")
- Beat Again Tour (2021)
- X Factor Live 2009 (2009) (with Alexandra Burke, Diana Vickers, Ruth Lorenzo, Rachel Hylton, Daniel Evans, Laura White, and Eoghan Quigg)
- US Summer Tour (2010) (with Hot Chelle Rae)
- Summer UK Tour (2011) (with Olly Murs)
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