Single Of The Week: Joe McElderry “Here’s What I Believe”

Joe McElderry has been written off by many as a flopstar, but this judgement is a beyond cruel assessment.  With album number 4 in the shops today, McElderry’s latest single is the heartfelt ballad “Here’s What I Believe”. Having realised his true potential post-Syco release album number 1, McElderry is going from strength to strength. The self-penned single is a tender, telling tale of heartbreak. “Here’s What I Believe” is strong enough to rebuff all the critics and prove that with album number 4, McElderry is capable of breaking away from his X Factor tale…

VIDEO: Joe McElderry “Here’s What I Believe”

Now, we don’t want our comment to be taken the wrong way, but here at The Kaje we fell so blissfully in love with the lyric video released for the lead single of X Factor winner Joe McElderry’s fourth album, that we almost hoped it would be unveiled as the official video. Instead we have today received the official video and are sad to see it is not a patch on the lyric. That is not to say it is without charm or purpose. Though slightly on the predictable side, we have a well shot storylined video, that shows McElderry in a good light and enhances the already beautiful composition. We do have ask though-why was McElderry not cast as the leading light? Wouldn’t it have been more insightful to his tale of lost love?

FEATURE: Joe McElderry “I don’t believe that you need to put yourself in a box and say this is what I am going to do for the rest of my career.”

Having been awarded the title ‘flopstar’ the moment his debut single “The Climb” failed to hit the number 1 spot, it is good to see that X Factor winner Joe McElderry is a popular fella. Having been written off by the press within a week of winning the reality television talent show, McElderry decided to stay sheltered from the storm and focus on furthering the career he had always dreamed of. As The Kaje meets the Geordie gent in his dressing room ahead of another sell out show on his “Classic” tour, the happy go lucky star flinches slightly at the term “flop” but retains his warm smile as he states, “the press have made it out like it is massive highs and massive lows but to be honest there was no real flop period – I just changed record label.”

“I have kind of not focussed on any of the negatives of it, so it has been pretty plain sailing for me.”

“It was made into this big deal that my career was over because I had been spotted in a supermarket buying a pint of milk. You can’t go shopping when you are famous apparently.” Clearly accepting that a career in the public’s eye brings both its fair share of positive and negative feedback, McElderry, who still lives in Newcastle, may have been affected by his very public slaying but now that he has laid the foundations of a solid career in entertainment, his beaming smile and natural warmth simply shrug them off. He continues, “It has been fine. It has been absolutely amazing and I have just enjoyed every minute of it. I have kind of not focussed on any of the negatives of it, so it has been pretty plain sailing for me. I have just enjoyed every experience I have had.”

“What I wanted to do is try explain the journey,” explains McElderry of his debut solo tour. With two tumultuous years in the spotlight already behind him, McElderry is too gracious and grateful to do anything but focus on his fans. Unlike many an X Factor star, McElderry has decided against biting the hand that first fed him, instead using the tour as a celebration of the diverse audience both X Factor and Popstar To Operastar have brought him to. “There are two audiences that come see the show now. It ranges from five year olds to teenagers to middle-aged people to older people. When I step out on that stage and look around the room there is everything from a group of five year olds with their family to some seventy year olds and even a hen party. For a performer to have such a wide ranging audience is fantastic. What I wanted to do was show a bit of everything. There is a bit of my pop album “Wide Awake”, a few of people’s X Factor favourites then the “Classic” section. You can see from people in the audience that they may not have heard certain parts of it, but they still go crazy for it which is amazing.”

While he may have never predicted that his name would be known for renditions of “Nessum Dorma” or “Canto Della Terra”, he refutes any claim that his career has changed direction. While on the X Factor he was celebrated for his versatility, and though he is seemingly aware that bold, emotional ballads are his forte, he sees little reasons to place restrictions on his output. “We are just making nice music, so that is probably what I will keep on doing. The Christmas album is the same really – a few uptempo numbers on there, a few chilled out numbers. But I guess really it goes back to where I started with the big emotional ballads, so that is kind of what I want to be doing. That is not to say I won’t do uptempo numbers as I enjoy doing them. I want to just try doing different things all the time. I don’t believe that you need to put yourself in a box and say this is what I am going to do for the rest of my career. That just limits you.”

“I always think that when you put a rapper with a singer that shouldn’t go, it is the most genius thing as it is so different.”

“I’d love to go into film, musical film, musicals. There are so many things I would like to try.” While his foundations may not be firmly laid, McElderry is far from comfortable in his fortunate position. A born entertainer, he craves innovation and seeks new challenges. Rather than being comfortable in a framework that will further his fortune, he would rather challenge both himself and his audience by breaking the mould. Though film and stage work are clearly stated on his to do list, they are not at the top. The current cherry on the pie is explained by a beaming and excited McElderry, “I would like to try a pop/rap collaboration. I always think that when you put a rapper with a singer that shouldn’t go, it is the most genius thing as it is so different. I would love to try do something like that as I don’t think anyone would expect me to do that. Somebody like Dappy, Tinie Tempah or Tinchy Stryder. Any of those rappers would work because we are so different. If you put us together it would be amazing.”

While he may be full of big dreams, which we have little doubt he will more than achieve, McElderry lacks the ego that many of his contemporaries ooze. Having made his name as the affable boy next door, his lack of celebrity craving has allowed him to ride the wave of success unaffected. Far from feeling like an interview, McElderry allows you to be his mate, even if only for five minutes, and as he boasts a similar on stage presence, it is little wonder than every man and his dog is queuing by the stage door for an autograph after the scream fest that accompanies his stunning stage show. Now if only I could land the role of his biographer, or even if his best mate…

Joe McElderry is currently touring nationwide.

Words and Images: Jeremy Williams

LIVE REVIEW: Joe McElderry, Symphony Hall (Birmingham), 09.11.11

Now I have to admit that the last I heard of Joe McElderry was when he lost out on the Christmas chart battle back in 2009. Not long after I moved to Australia and missed out on the next chapter. While I had not been a McElderry champion (I concede that I was rooting for the second from last placing Rikki Loney, before hedging my bets with the equally unpopular Rachel Adedeji), I thought him a worthy winner and secretly hoped he could break the curse of the male X Factor winner. However, through the wires I heard that his debut single “Ambitions” was only a mild hit and that he was swiftly dropped post debut album “Wide Awake” – despite it featuring a cover of one of my personal favourite tracks – Nerina Pallot’s “Real Late Starter”. The curse had struck once again and McElderry was bound for the bargain bin.

Thus I was more than little surprised when a couple of weeks ago I spotted a poster of McElderry which detailed his tour. Upon mentioning this to a couple of friends, their disdain was obvious. “McElderry should be doing musicals” the one noted, before the other snidely remarked, “he is the modern-day Cliff Richard – clean-cut, inoffensive.” Their instant rebuttal fuelled my curiosity and that evening I googled McElderry and found out a little bit more about the in-between time – but it was his mind-blowing rendition of “Nessum Dorma” on Popstar To Operastar that cemented in my mind that I needed to attend to satisfy my morbid curiosity. I knew in that moment it would be either total car crash or beyond brilliant.

Luckily it was the latter. While my friends are possibly right that McElderry veers towards the safer side of things, I personally see little wrong with that. His boy next door charm clearly has its appeal as the Symphony Hall is bursting at the seams with an all-ages audience. While the dazzling Roxanne Emery makes more of a lasting impression than X Factor rejects The Reason 4, neither act is able to touch the evening’s headline act. With a million dollar smile, McElderry promises to take the audience through his journey – the highs and the lows – from the X Factor through to the current day.

As he makes his way through a selection of tracks from his debut album “Wide Awake” it becomes clear that suffered for his status rather than his lack of ability. Though he may not be a born dancer, his vocal aptitude is immense. Every word he breathes resonates through the crowd and is met with roared appreciation. While early highlights include the aforementioned “Real Late Starter” and the surprisingly strong “Ambitions”, it is his cover of Savage Garden’s “Affirmation” that really hits home for me.

Having explored his post X Factor failure with enthusiasm, McElderry is clearly thankful for the show that brought him to the public’s attention. While “Don’t Stop Believing” goes down a treat with the audience, a rendition of “Open Arms” hits home his forte. McElderry is a singer who connects with emotional strength. Mouths drop in amazement as McElderry wows with spine tingling beauty.

Before long we are into ‘Classic’ terrain – an announcement that is met with unanimous applause. In my absence, McElderry has gone from flopstar to superstar in an unexpected manner. After a brief introduction, in which he humbly expresses his own surprise at his good fortune, McElderry launches into material from his latest release with a notable increase in confidence and presence.

Post an emotional rendition of the diving “Dance With My Father”, the evening builds through chill blain inducing renditions of “Canto Della Terra” and “Time To Say Goodbye” to an almost orgasm-inducing delivery of “Nessum Dorma”. Oozing confidence and with impressive presence, McElderry revels in his reaction as he is met by a standing ovation.

With debut hit “The Climb” as yet unperformed, the wait for the inevitable encore is  met with riotous chants. Before long McElderry is back with an acoustic working of Michael Buble’s “Home” and the obvious “The Climb”. As McElderry is joined by his adoring audience in the refrain, “Always gonna be a uphill battle, sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. Ain’t about how fast I get there.
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side – It’s the climb”, it suddenly hits me just how poignant a prediction his debut hit had been.

McElderry is a rare talent. He is not a reality television discovery. He is much more than that. The show upon which he made his name may have led to his initial downfall, but the determined star has been able to find his feet and if tonight is any indication, this star has remained grounded and is laying strong foundations.

While my friend may have meant malice with their Cliff Richard comparative – I now see it in a different light. Cliff Richard has weathered the seasons and had consistent success. McElderry may be made from the same mould. A versatile performer with a dedicated following. Time alone will tell where his journey will take him next, but during this evening he added another fan to his camp and I have added his CDs my birthday wish list for this weekend (friends take note..).

Reviewer: Jeremy Williams
Rating: 5/5 

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