Abena Bailey sounds out Joe McElderry about fame after X Factor, growing up and finding his own voice.
Christmas time has always been eventful for Joe McElderry. Who can forget the Rage Against the Machine campaign that knocked him off the top spot for Christmas number one after he sang his way to victory in X Factor?
And then last Christmas Eve his stalker Ennis McBride was arrested outside his home in South Shields.
Yes, the festive season is an emotional time and we can be pretty sure those old memories of being on X Factor will come flooding back, if he gets to catch any of the live shows.
While the contestants start their journeys into the music industry, Joe has put out his fourth album Here’s What I Believe and has been zooming around the country promoting it.
For him life is super busy: “It changes every week,” he said.
“Sometimes I do photo shoots, video shoots, record music, write a song and do three shows. All in one week. When I promote an album, I literally don’t know where I am for three months.”
One sobering date in the diary for the star this year was going to court to give evidence against McBride, who had denied a charge of harassment against Joe and his mum Eileen Joyce.
The 53-year-old from Stockport had set up a Twitter account so that he could send insulting Tweets to Joe and had turned up at his and his mother’s home on more than one occasion.
McBride was found guilty of harassment and fined £1,000 on September 11, and, thankfully, he now has a restraining order against him that prevents him from contacting Joe or his mum.
Joe said:“I’m glad it’s all over and I’d just like to draw a line under it now.”
And that is certainly what he has been doing. Not letting the stress of it all get to him, he has been seeking out and finalising venues for his tour next year and he was excited to tell us all about it.
He said: “I’m looking for the best places possible, maybe something similar to last year’s concerts. I enjoy both large and intimate venues but it all depends on where we can go.
“The album is the first one that I’ve done song writing on. Four albums down the line and now I’ve really taken the creative control on this one. I’m more mature as a person.”
Here’s What I Believe went to number eight in the charts and made Joe the first X Factor star to have four top 20 albums and three top 10 albums.
“The days before it came out, I was a little nervous,” he admitted.
“Just before an album comes out is the point I start to panic. It’s the anticipation of what people are going to think of it.
“Your own songs come from personal experience and I wanted mine to be a fair representation of me and my music. I spent a lot of time on it.”
He sounds confident yet easy-going over the phone, maybe a bit older than his 21 years.
He has had to grow up quickly since moving out of his home for the first time and settling in to the X Factor house in London three years ago.
At the age of 18 he was plunged into a fastpaced, not to mention ruthless, industry and immediately after his win he was at the centre of the Facebook campaign to get Rage Against The Machine to Christmas number one − a protest against the control X Factor had over the chart.
The Facebookers won and Joe had to settle with a number two spot: “I don’t think I understood what was going on,” he explained.
“At the time I thought it was unfair but looking back it was exciting to be part of a huge moment in music history. It was a pretty big deal but at the time I thought ‘stupid Rage Against The Machine!”
After that debacle Joe attempted to quash speculation about his sexuality and came out as being gay.
“Everyone wanted to know about my personal life rather than my music so I thought if I did one interview I could put it behind me and make everything more about my music.”
But 16 months after being signed to Simon Cowell’s Syco label, Joe was dropped and that left him devastated.
It wasn’t the end for him. His next step − going onto Popstar To Operastar − enabled him to come into his own and he won, got signed by Universal and released two hit albums − Classic and Classic Christmas.
There have been many ups and downs so far in his budding career but they have all given him vital lessons for the future.
He said: “At 18 years of age I didn’t know who I was as a person. You don’t at that age. It’s about growing up and maturing, trying things out, working hard and learning from it.”
By Abena Bailey