Jamie Tabberer

Joe. My. God.

GT meets Joe McElderry

We loved him before. But last night, at the launch of his new album Classic, we had a private audience with the adorable Northerner (and his nan - who was obviously a bit of a legend), and now we love him even more.

Yes, Joe's back. A year on from his massively underrated debut Wide Awake and fresh from Popstar to Operastar victory Joe's poised to release his sophomore effort. It's an album that does exactly what it says on the tin; a sophisticated, meticulously chosen collection of classic, classy, emotive anthems (including a handful of tough Italian numbers à la Operastar) sang so sweetly the mums' knees everywhere will turn to jelly (not to mention ours - he's getting handsomer with age isn't he?).

"It's what I do best, the big ballads," Joe told us last night. "I love the emotion I can portray. I loved the last album, I'll continue to sing it, but I've been able to explore a new repertoire which is a refreshing thing."

What's also massively refreshing, for us, is to hear Joe talk openly and comfortably about his sexuality. Remember, when he came out last summer he was still a teenager (he turned 20 in June). An age that, for a lot of us, was a confusing time. But Joe seems completely sorted.

"I was worried about it," he admits. "You hype it up. But as soon as I spoke about it I realised how supportive the public were. I realised what an amazing group of fans and supporters I had. Even now they're constantly supportive, they've got 'me back. It's nice, because I meet lots of people and they come up to us and go 'I came out after reading your story in the press, you're an inspiration'. I just think 'wow'. To know that it's helped people is special for me. I'm honored."

Joe's new album is out 22 August. To pre-order, click here.

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