I am a huge Union J fan. A huge Jcat. Each of them are really talented, nice, down-to-earth and let’s be honest quite easy on the eye! I love watching their YouTube videoes and reading their interviews in magazines.
Union J are a British boyband, previously called Triple J who found fame on last year’s UK version of the X Factor in front of judges former Take That front man Gary Barlow, former Pussycat Dolls front woman Nicole Scherzinger, N-Dubs singer Tulisa and their mentor music svengali and my fellow Irish person Louis Walsh. It was the ninth X Factor in the UK.
Band members are Jaymi Hensley, JJ Hamblett, George Shelley and Josh Cuthbert. Hensley and Cuthbert met first when they were both in Sylvia Young Theatre School in London. Their manager Blair Dreelan later put Hamblett into the band. They called the group Triple J because all their names began with J and there was three of them. The group auditioned in London for X Factor with Rihanna’s “We Found Love” while George Shelley auditioned also in London with his guitar doing an acoustic version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”.
James William Hensley was born on the 24th of February 1990 in Luton in Bedforshire. He is living with his boyfriend Olly Marmon who is a hairdresser in Chilli Reds in London. They met when Olly was working in a bar and began dating. After dating they moved in together. They got engaged in Rome in 2010. Their anniversary is 24 and because of this and because both their birthdays are the 24th (Olly’s is the 24th of April) and also because Jaymi’s birthday is in the second month and Olly’s is in the fourth month Jaymi got a tattoo which included the number 24 in it. He also has a tattoo with Oliver on his wrist. Jaymi’s mother’s name is Jackie Hensley and his father’s name is David Hensley. He has a brother called Aaron. He has a dog called Maxxy who is a dote, a cat and two goldfish. He came out that he was gay just before the quarter final of X Factor which was a very brave thing to do. He had come out to his family when he was 14. Jaymi previously went to Sylvia Young Theatre School. He likes tattoos, Beyonce and his favourite song is her song Run The World. He also likes the films Avatar and Twilight. He was bullied in school. Prior to been in Union J he was a teaching assistant and also taught dancing and singing. He also performed at Maspalomas Pride 2012 where he sang The Wanted’s Glad You Came, Rihanna’s We Found Love and Chris Brown’s Yeah 3x and at Maspalomas Pride a previous year he sang I Breathe Again by Adam Rickett with three hot backing dancers. He also sang Billie Jean by Michael Jackson at Open Mic UK. He was also in a band called Code5ive and they did a version of Lionel Richie’s Hello. The band at one stage supported Westlife. His celebrity crush is Tom Daley who he says it was really awkward when he met because he’d said he was his celebrity crush in an interview. He is very much an advocate of people been themselves. His Bio on his individual Twitter account is as follows: “Boyband Member,Geek,Boyfriend,Gay Boy. Labels are for losers! Be yourself not someone else! Stand for something! LoveisLove!” I really admire this about him because it’s something I feel very strongly about myself and he’s getting the message out there and for that I salute him.
George Paul Shelley was born on the 27th of July 1993 in Clevedon in North Somerset. (Do you think his parents just might have been Beatles fans? Or is that just wishful thinking on my part because I love The Beatles?) His mother’s name is Toni Harris and his father’s name is Dominic Shelley. He has two older brothers Will Shelley and Tom Harris, a younger sister Harriet Shelley and three younger brothers Leo, Archie and Spencer Shelley, and two step-sisters; Annabelle and Louisa Allen. He has a dog Arthur who is dead cute. He also has three hamsters Gloria, Steven and Oliver. He is self taught on the guitar and thought himself how to play it at 13. Before been in Union J, George was a student. He also worked in his local coffee shop Costa as well as his local clothing shop and card shop. George is a self-confessed geek and I love him for it. He is a whizz on computers and his celebrity crushes are Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. Gomez made a YouTube where she talked to George in which she said, “Hey, George, it’s Selena. I was in London for a bit and I’m bummed I missed you so next time give me call.” He likes the colour red, monkeys, spaghetti, “Live It Up” by Tulisa, American Horror Story and The Big Bang Theory. He likes the actor Evan Peters in American Horror Story. He was bullied in school.
Jaime Paul Hamblett a.k.a. JJ was born on the 25th of May 1988 in Newmarket in Suffolk. JJ stands for Jockey Jamie because prior to joining Union J he had been a jockey. He lives with his girlfriend Catharina Lopez who is a model. He has a brother Ashley and a sister Otea. He has a dog called Lola who is a pug and is just the most adorable little creature. It isn’t surprising that JJ was a jockey because he grew up in Newmarket and there’s a racetrack there. I do bets and you hear the Newmarket meeting is on. In his career as a jockey he rode as an apprentice jockey for trainer, Sir Michael Stoute. He was still riding for John Gosden before the show. He was in over 260 races and won 24. He rode in one race for the Queen and got to meet her. He likes the films Twilight and I Love You Man but doesn’t like elastic bands. He also likes BBQ, horses, giraffes and Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire and he supports Wolves. As well as been a jockey JJ also did modelling and appeared in the show Campus 202 playing Fredrico’. He had a profile on starnow.co.uk. (Brings back memories, the first time I seen that site was when I was looking at Aaron Buckingham’s profile post V.) On the site JJ says, “I am a very hard worker and a professional at what i done, i have got the drive to make a name for myself as an actor and believe i have the ability to do so. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Joshua Thomas John Cuthbert was born on the 28th of July in the year of 1992 in Ascot in Berkshire. His mother’s name is Kathryn Cuthbert and his father’s name is Graham Browne. He has a brother Callum and a sister Victoria. He has a cat called Oreo who is just adorable. When he was younger he was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the West End. He says of this that it was when he knew “that singing was what I wanted to do.” Jason Donovan was in the main role of in the play which was the role a younger Dick Van Dyke played in the movie version. Other stars who were in it were Christopher Biggins, Brian Conley and Stephen Gately. He said of Gately, “He was fantastic, and he was an idol of mine. We used to chat a lot, and I was in another boyband before Union J that actually toured with Boyzone, so it was good to catch up again. I really looked up to them when I was younger. His advice was to follow what you want to do, what makes you happy.” Before he was in Union J, Josh worked in I.T sales. He also played football and was originally chosen ahead of Tom Parker for a place in boyband The Wanted after open auditions were held to find the five members but couldn’t take the place because he was already under contract with the band Replay. Josh likes walruses, pigeons, the film The Notebook, Deal or No Deal and Shrek. His celebrity crushes are Kelly Brook and Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall. He also supports Chelsea. Josh lived in Dublin in Ireland for a few months.
At the bootcamp stage of the competition, Triple J sang American group Maroon 5’s hit which featured Christina Aguilera “Moves Like Jagger” while Shelley sang singer Labrinth’s song “Earthquake” while he competed against contestants Meg O’ Neill and Charlie Cammish. Shelley failed to make it to Judges’ Houses while Triple J were left to fight for the last place at Judges’ Houses against fellow boyband District3 who at this time were called GMD3. The two groups sung with District3 getting the final spot at Judges’ Houses. Triple J had sung Chris Brown’s Yeah 3x. Rough Copy were one of the bands to make it through to the Judges’ Houses stage but there was visa row so Rough Copy pulled out. Dreelan was contacted by producers of the show offering the group a return to the show if Shelley was put into the group. Everyone accepted and the group became Union J. Boyband Times Red who had also been let go at bootcamp were brought back for this stage of the competition too. At Judges’ Houses Union J sang an acoustic version of the second biggest hit of last year behind Goyte’s “Somebody That I Used To Know “ Australian singer Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. They made it to the live shows where they quickly became well liked by people on social media covering 46% of online chat to do with X Factor. The first theme was Olympic Games. (Probably because of London 2012). Their first performance on the show was Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. Freddie Mercury is a legend with an out of this world voice. It wasn’t really the right song for them and Louis Walsh admitted he picked the wrong song for them. However the loyal Jcats managed to keep them in the competition and actually well kept them in while they were at it! The group finished fourth in the public vote behind Powerhouse vocalist Christopher Maloney in first place followed by soulful singer Jahmene Douglas in second and power ballad singer Ella Henderson in third. I admire their strength in coming back so strongly the next week after the first performance. There is so many boybands who would have completely fell apart after the first performance but they showed early on that they were four very determined, ambitious lads who were up to the challenge of getting better and better as a band and showing everyone what they could do.
And in their second performance they did just that. Their second performance was for the Love & Heartbreak theme and they sang a mash-up (How very Glee of them? I love it!) of Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” and James Morrison’s (One of my favourite singers) and Nelly Futado’s “Broken Strings”. They sung it absolutely beautifully and progressed to the next stage in seventh place. The third week was Club Classics week and the group sang “When Love Takes Over” by Kelly Rowland. Again it was a brilliant performance and they made it through placing eighth in the public vote. The fourth week’s theme was “Halloween” and though they performed Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams” very well they ended up in the bottom two with solo singer Jade Ellis. Walsh, Scherzinger and Barlow opted to save them. It was later revealed that they were ahead of Ellis in the public vote. In week 4 they sang Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” for the theme of “Number-Ones”. Another great performance and this week they made it through the public vote placing fourth. In week 5 for the “Best of British” theme they sang a song I love by a band I love Coldplay’s “Fix You” and they performed it incredibly but sadly found themselves in the bottom two again. This time it was probably like déjà vu for them as they were up against District3. It was very obvious in their performance how much they wanted it and the passion that was there. This time they were saved by Scherzinger and Barlow. Walsh who mentored both bands didn’t vote. Tulisa said she would have opted to save District3. It was later revealed that Union J had been ahead in the public vote.
In week 6 they reprised Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” for the theme of “Guilty Pleasures”. This time in a faster version for Saturday Night Television. I always love this theme on X Factor because I’m a complete nerd and I have numerous guilty pleasures. (Jedward, Adam Lambert, Diva Fever, Glee, Bros, Chesney Hawkes, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, The MacDonald Brothers,Alphabeat, V, Westlife, Steps, S Club 7, Phil Collins, musical theatre, Dream Bears, Eurovision, 80s’ music, Wham and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there is so many more!) The lads performed the song brilliantly and made it through the public vote in fourth place. The next week was ABBA week (Oh there’s another guilty pleasure! Everyone now, “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme a man after midnight …”) and the boys chose one of the hardest ABBA songs to sing in “The Winner Takes It All” but they sang it very well. I love Motown music and that was the second theme that night as the acts all sang two songs. For this theme the lads chose to sing “I’ll Be There” by The Jacksons and they sang it really well. Sadly this was their third time in the bottom two with the very entertaining Rylan Clark. They were saved by Walsh, Tulisa and Barlow. Again it was later revealed that they had been ahead of Clark in the public vote. The next week was the semi final and the group chose to sing Labrinth’s and Emile Sande’s “Beneath Your Beautiful” and it was my favourite performance of theirs along with Coldplay’s “Fix You” and their save song from the same week “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele. (I don’t bring luck to people do I?!) The theme had been Free Choice/Someone Special. For the second theme Free Choice/Song to get to the final they sang “I’m Already There” by Lonestar. Again they sang the song very well. Sadly this was the end of their X Factor journey as they ended up fourth in the competition. They sang “Love Story” again after the result. It was later reported that they missed out on getting to the final by 0.6 % of the vote behind Christopher Maloney. I found this sad because they were the two acts I liked the best. It was also reported after that the band’s winning single would have been a cover of American singer and US X Factor judge Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper”.
Post X Factor Union J have been signed to Sony Music Entertainment. On the subsidary label RCA Records. They also performed on The X Factor tour which I was at in Ireland and it was brilliant. They released their first single Carry You written by Steve Mac and Claude Kelly in June 2013. It entered the charts at number 12 in Ireland, no. 4 in Scotland and no. 6 in the UK. Their second single is Beautiful Life written by Nathan Sykes from The Wanted. They have helped The Poppy Appeal and were one of the acts to launch Children in Need this year. They won the We Love Pop Best newcomer for 2013 and placed third in the Popdust Next Pop Superstar of 2013. They were also in the top 20 of the MTV Hottest. Their first tour is called the “Magazines and TV Screens” tour. There is 18 dates on the tour which will happen from December 2013 – January 2014 and their album is due out on October 21st.