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Gay Times December 10 - Issue 387

Joe McElderry

He’s the pop star you want to take home to meet your parents and he’s only gone and made one of the best albums of the year. Darren Scott gets a bit motherly with X Factor winner Joe McElderry.

Typical. You wait months for an X Factor fitty and then two come along at once. Though that wouldn’t be the word last years winner Joe McElderry would use to describe himself. In fact, he wouldn’t describe himself at all.
Before we chat I’m already aware that he’s not THAT kind of person. While he talks 10 to the dozen about his music and his X Factor experiences – to the point of getting togue-tied – he’s clearly not gotten even remotely big-headed since becoming the sixth winner of Simon Cowell’s juggernaut singing contest.
In fact the 19-year-old is adorably humble and ever so polite, to the point where you just want to hug him. That, from an interviewer that recoils at the thought of being tactile, is quite a statement.
But his joy is adorably infectious, you can’t help but be pleased for him. The theme song for the last scraps of summer was undoubtedly his, with his top five single Ambitions taking Joe in a new direction which he grabs with both hands on his debut album.
It’s an album that will surprise you. Wide Awake, which he worked on with producers Ray Hedges, Dallas Austin and John Shanks (google them, there’s a fair few big names they’ve worked with) has shades of Scissors Sisters, Mika, Pet Shop Boys and George Michael in there. Colour me surprised, as I find myself excitedly telling Joe just how brilliant the album is.
Typically, he seems to not believe me. “Do you like it?” he checks, before thanking me. I tell him it’s a pleasant surprise and he laughs. “Hopefully for everyone!”
You – and possibly I – might have thought there’d be a collection of ballads and covers headed our way. Not so. An album of uplifting pop you say? I ask Joe if he expected to be going down that particular path.
“Not at all. I’m glad that we did something like that. I wanted to come out with a single and album and kind of like, make it a bit of a surprise. I wanted to do something that people weren’t going to be expecting and fresh and fun. Keeping it as a risk really, keeps things interesting,” he explains.
“I said to the label I want songs that I could go crazy with, you know like, on stage I can have dancers, I can do dance routines that I can get the crowd going. I wanted to do those type of songs. And they totally agreed so we went for it, and we went to town with it and hopefully it’ll pay off.”
He gracefully accepts comparisons to other acts as a “huge compliment” and points out that there’s a George Michael sample on the album too. It’s Real Late Starter I want to discuss, with the line ‘you’ll be kissing my ass.’ Joe McElderry! What will the fans think of his potty mouth!
He bursts out laughing. “Well I’m hardly swearing! It’s not a swear word. I’m sure they’ll get over it,” he laughs again. “It’s just a bit of fun, that’s what I wanted to do, it’s a fun song.”

The whole interview is featured in the Dec issue of GT, out now.

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