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ISSUE 03 JUNE 2013











HOLLER. Welcome to AMAZEPOP. I’ll cut the crap, readers, and jump straight to the point - I am FASCINATED by the results of our new Best Popstars In The World extravaganza. We singled out 150 ‘active’ pop acts and subjected them to a general poll, allowing people to vote for up to 15. Nearly 9,000 voters obliged, and I’m pleasantly very surprised by who came out on top. Well done, everyone. Anyhoo, there’s also a Union J Q&A in this issue, which was brilliant fun. The boys had been doing press stuff all day but were still on top form when I got a cheeky 20 minutes with them; and if you’re not convinced by their new single (AND WHY NOT) or the incredibly entertaining interview they gave me, then you should know this: As I left the room, George Shelley started humming Demi Lovato’s ‘Heart Attack’. I mean COME ON. This issue also boasts entries by four amazing contributors, who’ve each got some great stuff on offer this month. Robin Darke takes The Saturdays into consideration (are they shite or are they amazing? WHO KNOWS??), Beth Davison revisits all-school P!nk, Alex MacGregor yearns for some classic S Club 7 and Kieran Field explains why it’s about time Fergie got on with another solo album. On top that, there’s your usual onslaught of reviews, features, news and all that business, plus 10 outstanding tweets by generally outstanding tweeter Taylor Swift. Take it to the bridge, Shaun Kitchener (Editor & Head Writer)


THE LINE-UP may 2013




FIRST VERSE THE GIRLS ALOUD SPLIT IS 100% FINAL, SAYS CHERYL COLE Cheryl Cole has shot down any suggestion that Girls Aloud could reform in a few years’ time, explaining that they are absolutely 100% split up for good... and she “hopes to God” they aren’t back when she’s in her mid-forties. But they could do a reunion in a few years, right? Apparently not. Asked by InTouch if the door was “I hope to God I’m not turning up open for them to ever return, she to Girls Aloud jumping around dosaid: “No, we’ve definitely split. I ing all the routines when I’m 45,” know Nadine [Coyle] always said the ‘Call My Name’ caller laughed. that she never thought we should THIS IS NO LAUGHING MATTER, say out loud the words ‘we’ve split’, CHERYL. but at the same time we don’t want to mislead the fans.” She also said in the same Q&A that

she wasn’t completely on her game during the 2010 X Factor, in which she mentored Rebecca Ferguson and Cher Lloyd. “The last X Factor series I did was too hard for me,” she said. “I wasn’t right in my mind enough to give it my everything and be focused. And I wasn’t strong enough mentally.” Since being dropped from the US X Factor, she has apparently “seen Simon [Cowell] once”. In case anyone was wondering.

10 AMAZING POPSTAR TWEETS: @TAYLORSWIFT13 1. How come no one told me that for 4 hours there was chocolate cake ALL over my face?!? Because you ate it alone, Taylor. You ate it alone. 2. That San Antonio crowd was amazing and SO loud. Now I’m stuck in my own concert traffic, which is a conflicting feeling. 3. That moment when you buy scissors and then you try to open them but you can’t because you DON’T HAVE SCISSORS. 4. Played Houston! Then rehearsed


in Vegas for Billboards! Then cleaned my closet and concluded that roughly 79% of my shirts are striped. 5. GJust tried reading a shampoo bottle an arms length away from my face to check if I still need contacts-Turns out I do. Eventful night. 6. Watching tv with my cat while eating Toy Story fruit snacks. So basically I’m 80 and 5 at the same time. 7. So my TV remote is brokenwhich pretty much cancels my evening plans with detectives Ben-

son and Stabler. And Eames and Goren. And Dr Grey. 8. I shouldn’t read into the fact that my family got me a new scrabble board (the one that swivels!) &cat treats for Christmas, right? Am I 85? 9. Chinese food. Law and Order DVDs. Cat. Blanket. Couch. 10. So excited about performing on the ARIA’s tonight! Never been before. Here’s comes ‘trouble’.... See what I did there? Sorry. I know. Sorry.


And Caroline Flack has done some bud-nipping

Here we go again - the X Factor judges have commenced filming after a billion-year lead-up to Sharon Osbourne’s confirmation onto the panel. In a dark and actually quite sad co-incidence, the filming has started on the same day that newly-removed judges Tulisa was allegedly arrested by police over claims made against her in a leading British tabloid. Sharon joins the other three of last year’s judges - Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh and HRH Nicole Scherzinger,


while Dermot O’Leary does of course return as host.

with Harry Styles during a stand-up gig, she told The Sun: ”There probably will be stories, particularly beThe auditions return to their old cause of his age! But I don’t fancy conference-room format to begin him. with, but the big arena tryouts remain in place further down the line. “He is more like my naughty younger brother and I’m going to have to As for The Xtra Factor, Caroline keep him in line - but in a good way, Flack has been joined by a new not in a dominatrix way!” chap in place of Olly Murs, and has already had to nip romance ru- Inevitably those quotes will make mours in the bud. sod all difference and the Do You Fancy Him question will be back in Asked if she fances 22-year-old due time. newbie Matt Richardson, who previously mocked her relationship Britney Spears’ 8th studio album is currently in its early stages of production, and William Orbit and Naughty Boy have been having a lil’ Twitter exchange on the matter.

tweeted William Orbit: “it’s about to get toxic! can’t wait to get started sir!”, to which Orbit then responded: “Ooops, she’s gonna do it again!!!” Yes alright boys, get on with it please.

‘La La La’ maestro Naughty Boy






This time last year, Union J didn’t exist. But when three-piece act Triple J - made up of JJ Hamblett, Josh Cuthbert and Jaymi Hensley - were knocked out of The X Factor at the Boot Camp stage and bought back with new member George Shelley, the nation’s new favourite boyband was formed. Six months after placing fourth on the ITV show under the mentorship of boyband connoisseur Louis Walsh, they are releasing their debut single; the straightforward and altogether brilliant ‘Carry You’. As it ascends the charts and earns them even more screaming fans than they already had, the boys sat down with AMAZEPOP’s Shaun Kitchener to talk about just about everything there is to talk about. Even bad particles on the tube. The first single is cracking. What’s the reaction been like for you guys? Josh: It’s been crazy. Jaymi: It’s been amazing. Everyone’s really got behind it and been really supportive of what we’ve come out with. The reviews seem really positive... it’s been amazing for us. You have a huge fanbase - does knowing that ease the nerves at all? Josh: It kind of makes us more confident that if people don’t like it, we’ve got people to help us get through it! Carry you, as the song says. Josh: Carry us, yeah.

JJ: It was the first song we heard. We kind of loved the demo. George: We did have a few to choose from, but it’s the most appealing for most people. It’s really catchy. You only finished The X Factor tour recently; how much have you recorded so far? Jaymi: We’re about 75% of the way through, I think. Josh: 78. We’re 78%. Jaymi: We’ve done most of the album. We’re just starting to write the last few tracks. We’re getting there.

What was it about this track that Who are you teaming up with? made you want it for the first sin- JJ: Steve Mac, Wayne Hector... Claude Kelly... gle?


Josh: Josh Cuthbert... Your last year’s been crazy. How does the reality of what you’re doing compare to what you were hoping for 12 months ago? Is it every bit as “magical”? Jaymi: It’s a year today that Triple J did our first audition. I’ve been building this up for a week... George: “It’s in a week, 3 days and 2 hours!” Jaymi: ...But it’s actually here, today. We were in a room auditioning for the first time on The X Factor. JJ: (Disbelief) Was it a year today?? Jaymi: It’s crazy that we’re here on the other side writing our album... writing our book. We’ve been through a lot in a year. I never would have said a year ago today

name doesn’t start with a J’? Jaymi: Yeah, we changed it to Jorge with a J. George: But then everyone was like, ‘but that’s Horhe’. Josh: That could have helped us break Europe. Jaymi: There was a whole investigation about ‘Who’s this Mexican Jorge?’, so we just changed it back to George. Quadruple J doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it. JJ: It still sounds like a J, though. It’s not like “...aaaaand this is Steve”. George: “...And Drew”. Jaymi: There was Dave. “Hi, we’re Union J.. I’m Josh, I’m Jaymi, I’m JJ... [deep voice] I’m Dave.” Actually they did put a Dave in the group at Boot Camp but we kicked him out because he started with a D, so then we had to choose between George and Simon... People don’t know that. Above, L-R: George Shelley, JJ Hamblett, AMAZEPOP’s Shaun Kitchener, Josh Cuthbert, Jaymi Hensley

that we’d be here talking to you Jaymi: But you do fill it up. about our debut single. George: We’ve had to fill it up with JJ: Crazy, man. things like, “On the 21st DecemJosh: And BOOK! ber 2004 I walked to Tescos and bought a Freddo”. Well, yeah, I didn’t know there Jaymi: Enough has happened in was a book, that’s crazy... the last year to fill a book, let alone Jaymi: Our film, museum, our our life before. The last year was theme park... crazy. You don’t see what happens George: Seriously, there is a book on The X Factor so it’s quite nice to and an annual coming out... We’ve let people have a look. just seen the annual. Josh: It’s a dream come true, isn’t I always wondered... this is a realit? The weirdest thing is I don’t ly stupid question, but bear with think enough has happened in our me... obviously when George lives to have a book. That’s a thing joined the band, it was great, I’ve said about when people have you all said it just clicked straight books out, but now it’s happened away... But was there a split secto us... ond where you were like, ‘But his

Exclusive. Jaymi: Exactly. When you guys did the X Factor Secret Gig thing back in November, I heard someone asking your fans how you knew where it was... they said they chased your car from Embankment. How crazy is that from your perspective? Jaymi: They’re outside now. George: It’s like a zombie invasion. Have you ever played, like Left For Dead or anything? Nope. I scare easy. Jaymi: It’s like that I Am Legend film. JJ: They know where we’re going before we do. I remember when


we were going to a studio, we quite good at evading it. were driving round looking for it JJ: You don’t go out of your house, for about 20 minutes, we couldn’t that’s why. find it. And there were fans waiting Josh: Puts his sunglasses on in outside. They knew. his house so he “Our fans know where They’re amazing, our doesn’t get spotfanbase are abso- we’re going before we ted when he puts lutely amazing... our do... they’re amazing.” his bins out. supporters follow us George: By his wherever we go. We have a mas- mum. Or jogging down your old sive connection with our fans. school, like: ‘... Do you recognise me yet?’ When you guys go back home- Josh: I’ve got a big sign saying ‘I’M home, is it as nuts as it is in Lon- IN UNION J!’ don? Jaymi: I have a throne when I go Josh: It is, yeah. Everyone knows home. I like to sit on my throne. when something happens, espe- Josh: Your throne? cially in our towns. It’s relatively Jaymi: Yeah. While the Help put compact, so when someone does bins out for me. something exciting like The X Factor in your hometown, everyone That’s it. That’s the soundbite. knows about it. That’s when I feel That’s my headline. most like a “celebrity”, as such - Jaymi: (Suddenly very serious) I because everyone recognises who do normal stuff! I go to the pub I am. and I do normal stuff. A big thing Jaymi: I don’t. When I go home I’m in our world is you have to go out


every day looking like... you have to make an effort. When I go home I’ve got my old joggers with holes in. If I go out without my hair done, hoodie on, people are like ‘That’s him, he’s taken a drastic turn for the worse...’ I’d hate that. Having to look above 4/10 on a daily basis sounds like too much of a thing. Jaymi: It’s quite fun to fancy dress it up. Put a moustache on. Is public transport still safe? Jaymi: Not any more! There’s these particles in the tube, they’re really worried about them, they get into your brain and they can cause brain damage. It was on the radio this morning. I am getting a car. Josh: But when there’s no particles we use public transport. George: (Concerned) Is this true? Jaymi: Did you not hear it?

Josh: Something about the neutrons... and the electrons... Jaymi: You breathe in, and then it damages your inside. In the tube! Metal particles, and your body can’t... I don’t know. We look at the people with masks on like they’re weird, but they know. They’ve got it. took it into consideration. JJ: They have! Moving on. JLS have said they’re splitting up - did you guys meet them? JJ: They’re an amazing band. We’ve met them a few times. Really, really nice guys. It’s sad to see them parting, but hopefully one day they might reunite. Jaymi: In ten years time we might all be part of the next Big Reunion. Us, JLS, One Direction, all of us... Josh: We’re gonna have hair in places we don’t want hair. Mind you, Blue have hit the gym, haven’t they? Jaymi: They’ve come back looking better. You could grate cheese with Duncan James’s stomach, couldn’t you. Pop acts are always getting compared to each-other, especially you with other boybands - when you were recording ‘Carry You’ were you making a conscious effort to go your own way, or did that just happen? Josh: You want to have your own place in the market. There are obviously loads of other bands out there at the moment that are doing so well. We can’t be a carbon copy of one of them. We’ve got to be a bit different. We’ve tried to take the best bits out of all of the different bands and tried to make a different sound. We definitely

JJ: They’re both great shows. Jaymi: You watch it in a different Regarding The X Factor, Sharon way after being on one. You see Osbourne is back - you worked the show for what it really is, how with her at Judges’ Houses last much hard work these guys are year. Will she be good? putting in ALL the time. It’s interJaymi: She’s amazing. esting to watch it. I love reality TV. Josh: Sexy as well. Jaymi: You’ve got to be careful Aaaand finally. Signature signthough because she wears these off question. In 2013, what makes really sparkly dresses, with all the a great pop song? glittery diamonds on them. And George: Something that’s catchy. when you run up and hug her, you With a beat. Drums. come back and you’ll be bleeding Jaymi: Singing. and scratched. So if she’s a judge, Josh: Feel-good! Happy! on the Sunday if they get through Jaymi: Words. and they get Sharon as a mentor, Josh: Happy, up-beat, positive... don’t do what we did with Louis Maybe a bit of drums and guitar and jump on her because you will helps. cut yourself on her diamond dress- George: What’s popular at the es. moment are the big, like, marching band drums. DOOPH DOOPH Have you guys been watching DOOPH, D-DOOPH... The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent Jaymi: Something that takes you etc... would you have gone for ei- away... if you listen to a DJ that ther of them were it not for The X plays this song that you love, and Factor? it takes you a different place. For Josh: Britain’s Got Talent is amaz- those three minutes you should be ing. There’s no show like it at the able to let yourself... (Whispers) Esmoment, it’s so good. The banter cape. the judges have between them... David and Simon’s relationship is Beautiful. second to none. It’s so funny. George: (Spanish twang) Escapé. Jaymi: We’re very much a part of X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent’s Union J’s debut single ‘Carry You’ family, and it’s interesting to watch is out now. talent that’s on those shows. Even with The Voice, we’ll watch it and @ShaunKitchener there’s some incredible talent on there.



THE SATURDAYS The Saturdays are a curious beast. Critics blast them for being bland and generic, they’ve never really become *that* big, and their recent attempts at breaking the US seem to have been met with widespread indifference. So how come they’ve lasted half a decade? Surely they must be doing something right? ROBIN DARKE thinks things over.


Being a member of The Saturdays is a pretty thankless task. In a world where pop history is measured by pre- and post-‘Biology’, being in a girl group is akin to pushing a Sisyphus-style boulder up The Shard. It’s almost impossible to get anywhere in these sweaty pop days without throwing all caution and self esteem, to the wind and plunging on despite name calling and the perhaps lack of natural talent. And turning their collective noses up to name callers and claims that none of them can really sing is what The Saturdays do best. Although their American reality TV show Chasing The Saturdays was beyond awful, it did help to secure them the pinnacle of what all pop bands strive for; a Number One. Yes, it made the fivesome look like a band of pillaging idiots having panic attacks and arguments around the world while shacking up with Sean Paul, and yes, it did start to propagate a new feud between Una Healy and The Other Four, but does that matter? ‘What About Us’ is a natty pop song. The Saturdays don’t need you to realise how clever they are, or how they feel their way through the pop market like your blind aunt reading Fifty Shades Of Grey, as long as you can see how polished they are, and as long as you are still captivated by their private life (awwww, isn’t Marvelle’s daughter just adorbz?) then it doesn’t matter that they’re as shrewd as Katie Price, Alan Sugar and Him what

manages Hamfatter rolled into one. No one cares. Between them, the band has countless years of past experience behind them. Rochelle and Frankie are part of the S Club dynasty, Una has won the Irish version of Eurovision twice, and Mollie is so musical theatre that her wrists probably sound like a broken washing machine because of all of the jazz hands she was forced to do. Rumour has it that in Sylvia Young, instead of doing push ups as punishment, unruly students are forced to high kick their way around the main court yard in the rain. The Saturdays know their shizzle inside and outizzle.

anything by The Saturdays. Gone is the British and proud sound that they championed, and instead there’s some really underpar rapping and the trademark hiccuping vocals that Beyonce et al ruled the early Noughties with. It’s a lazy attempt at trying to crack America, and they are better than that.

For all their failings - putting more emphasis on how they look, releasing lazy songs, not updating Frankie’s hair cut in five years, never singing a cover of S Club Juniors ‘New Direction’ - The Saturdays aren’t really terrible at what they do. Obviously some will say that having a Number One might be the pinnacle of any career, and can launch into one of those terNaysayers may crow that they, rible Bieber-esque statistic Tumblr just like every other girl band, are graphics about how many albums trying to emulate Girls Aloud, but they’ve had and how many followthey’re really not. Whereas Girls ers they’ve got on Twitter, but anyAloud were created by Popstars: one can really have a Number One. The Rivals, The Saturdays are al- Mr. Blobby had a Number One. ready mature enough to see that Even Eiffel 65 had a Number One. I the time to have a group of gig- think at some point even I’ve had a gly teenagers singing in unison Number One. is gone, and instead, perhaps inspired by Gary Barlow, or worse, They could do better; embrace the Mick Jagger, having a band com- fact that none of them really like prised of more maturer women is each other and enter a Pop Hunger the way forward. Because, as long Games alongside Brother Beyond, as the sound they pump out stays all of the Sugababes and whichevrelevant, they will still fit in with er Bedingfields are left, kick out a their current slew of fans. member every now and then (because it hasn’t done the Sugababes Unfortunately, The Saturdays are any harm really), and move away sticking to their formulaic brand of from Rent-A-Rappers into more synthpop and it’s starting to sound authentic realms like Bananarama a bit tired. Even new release ‘Gen- and The Bangles. tleman’ sounds more like a poor Destiny’s Child rip off than it does @Robin_Darke


) G N I H T E T O (BIG V

best popstars in the world 2013





50 cher lloyd






44 madonna

43 selena gomez

42 nicola roberts

A boosted US profile has no doubt boosted Cher’s stock - and it’ll be interesting to see how she fares with her second album.

The Script have reaped the benefits of Danny’s The Voice UK stint, and despite all the critics he still clearly has a lot of admirers.

A ludicrously high-grossing tour and a number of minor scandals keep Madge among the industry leaders.


Jeppers seems to have narrowly avoided one-hit wonder status, but there’s approx. a 3% chance she’ll ever top ‘Call Me Maybe’.

The only Little Mixer to appear in the Top 50, Perrie’s awesome voice and Zayn-based tabloid power seemingly give her an

She’s dating Bieber and then she isn’t and then she is... but as a popstar Selena has ditched ‘the Scene’ and is ready with a 4th LP.

The Girl On Fire LP may not have arrived with much fanfare, but Alicia can still fill arenas and please critics with her soulful pop.

Who’s Emily Sande? Has anyone heard of her? Does she even have an album out? Is she familiar with a thing called promo?

The first of two former Girls Aloud members in the list, Nicola’s popularity is yet another sign that she NEEDS to do a second solo album.


41 miley cyrus

40 mariah carey

39 justin bieber

38 calvin harris

37 shakira


35 robyn

34 nicki minaj

33 lana del rey

Her public pop activity over the last year has been minimal, but anticipation alone keeps Miley on the radar.

Accountable for about 85% of all Number Ones over the last year, Calvin is still the world’s most in demand hitmaker.

The thinking pop fan’s popstar of choice, Robyn did a spot of Coldplay stadium supporting last year and clearly was a wise choice.

Her tenure on American Idol wasn’t as all-conquering as some perhaps expected, but Mariah’s ‘lambs’ remain as faithful as ever.

She hasn’t really released much over the last year, but a stint on the US version of The Voice has kept Shakira’s popularity afloat.

New music videos every five minutes and a divisive stint on American Idol keep the polarising Minaj at the forefront of the ‘biz’.

Biebs has kept the hits coming over the last year, but scandal after scandal after scandal prevents him from finishing higher than 39.

Will’s recent solo output has been the kind of shite you just love to hear in a club, and he’s great value on The Voice UK, so... fair do’s.

Her movements once the curtain falls on her Born To Die era will be interesting but, for now, Del Rey is a force to be reckoned with.



32 robbie williams

Whether Radio 1 will playlist him or not, Robbie has regained his ability to dominate the charts and sell out giant venues.

31 marina and the diamonds

Electra Heart was perhaps the finest album of 2012, so it’s a shame if anything that Marina doesn’t poll higher on this list.

30 ellie goulding

The Difficult Second Album was no problem for Goulding, whose Halcyon LP was even more beautifully crafted than 2010’s Lights.

29 christina aguilera

Lotus wasn’t the Earth-straddling phenomenon supporters were hoping for, but Xtina’s fanbase remains commendably large.

27 olly murs 28 liam payne

All five One Direction members make the list, but Liam’s at the bottom.. probably because he cut his hair off :(


People seem to be slowly coming around to the idea of Olly Murs being a good popstar. Compare the reaction of recent album Right Place Right Time to, say, 2010’s ‘Thinking Of Me’, and there’s been a definite shift. ‘Troublemaker’, for example, may be pop at its most basic (you could set your watch to the chorus’ chord sequence) but it’s also an irresistably catchy hit with a not-awful appearance from Flo Rida.



She released the very mature Abbey Road Sessions and then signed to Roc Nation. Kylie knows how to keep the world guessing.

24 CHERYL COLE With thanks to Calvin Harris, Flo has finally scored her first UK No1 - and her brief dance-y makeover won her a new influx of fans.

‘Call My Name’ spent most of 2012 as that year’s fastest-seller, LP A Million Lights hit No2 and she even embarked on a solo arena tour. Even with constant criticism and reports of miming/not selling enough tickets/generally being bad, Chezza remains one of the country’s most in-demand popstars. How long she can keep that up now that Girls Aloud have officially disbanded will be fascinating to watch.

23 louis tomlinson

22 harry styles


His voice is probably the weakest in One Direction but hey... he dresses nice and isn’t altogether nasty to look at.

He may seem the most notorious member of One Direction but The Styles is 3rd most popular of the band with our voters.



21 avril lavigne

20 niall horan

19 jedward

18 zayn malik

17 ke$ha

16 jessie j

She may be finding it harder these days to score a smash hit, but Avs is still a valued pop asset with tunes to spare.

A surprising choice for Most Popular 1D Dude, Zayn’s personal life allegations haven’t stopped him securing a huge number of votes.

the ones that got away

After just making up the numbers back on The X Factor, ‘Nialler’ as emerged as a Properly Good Popstar over the last year or so.

The lack of huge success for Ke$ha’s great second album Warrior is a mystery - but clearly enough people still rate her.


A surprise entry, yes - but Jedward still boast one of the most dedicated fanbases in the buisness, and as a result they sail into

One of the UK’s most divisive exports, Jessie is still adored by a huge number of Heartbeats and general pop watchers.

inside the Top 60. For shame, voters. FOR SHAME.

Not an obvious name to have just missed out on the list, but for whatever reason Girls Aloud’s big-lunged 63 LILY ALLEN beaut missed out on the Top 50 by Even with nothing more than a few just ONE vote. lines on a Pink song, Lily Allen still manages to trump several other popstars-du-jour and garner enough 59 nicole votes to place 63rd. How high will she scherzinger go if/when she actually releases propNicole 100 acts from our longlist WUT? er new stuff? failed to make the Top 50. ‘The ScherzinaHere are some notable place- tor’ Scherzinger is more than deserving of a place in the 68 delta goodrem ments from the rear end. Top 50, and yet she barely scraped Sure she’s a lovely woman, but... eh?



15 lady gaga

Gaga hasn’t done a great deal in public besides touring over the last year, but even the anticipation for her third record ARTPOP sends her sky-high in this poll. It’d better not be terrible...

70 rita ora

This was a surprising result. Three giant-selling No1s and a seemingly massive fanbase, but Rita Ora goes no further than the edge of the Top 70 on this poll.

80 mollie king

14 katy perry

The thousand-year Teenage Dream campaign finally over, Katy is wisely taking a brief break from putting out singles every 10 minutes. But it’s hard to convincingly argue she’s been a bit over-exposed when 90% of her output has been excellent. The concert movie may have been a little ill-advised, but musically Katy continues to prove herself as an incredibly savvy pop artiste, and her next album will hopefully be a thing to behold.

was close behind at No89, Una and Vanessa took Nos 93 and 94 respectively, and Frankie was No146.

92 tulisa

The Female Boss’s unfortunate struggle for success didn’t stop her sneaking into the Top 100, as she crept in at No92.

Even the highest-placed Saturday 150 chris brown can only make it as far as No80. Mol- The only person on our given longlist lie is the most popular, but even she to receive absolutely no votes. struggled to secure votes. Rochelle



13 justin timberlake

12 rihanna

11 bruno mars

10 adam levine

The 20/20 Experience has split opinion, but just the general notion of JT being back in the world of hitmaking is clearly exciting enough.

New album Unorthodox Jukebox has replenished Mars’ popularity. His showmanship and knack for penning a great hook easily convert to sales.

Her personal life continues to provoke fierce debate, but as a popstar Rihanna still has the very best writers and producers queueing up for her.

Maroon 5’s enduring popularity off the back of ‘Moves Like Jagger’ and The Voice US continues apace, with Levine at the forefront of it all.

09 ed sheeran

Some people adore him. Some people can’t stand him. But the former group is clearly strong enough to outweigh the latter, as Ed nudges his way into the public-voted Top 10. Whether you think his music is the stuff credibility wet dreams are made of or just loose cast-offs from adverts, you’ll have to put up with him for a good while yet.



08 britney spears

07 beyonce

06 adele

05 adam lambert

Her stint on The X Factor USA was a GIF-maker’s dream, and the promise of an upcoming 8th LP is unbearably exciting. Excellentney.

A Bond theme is all Adele has really done over the last year, but the after-taste of 21 is still enough to keep her this high in peoples’ good books.

A new album is allegedly en route before 2049; but in the meantime Beyonce is keeping everyone satisfied with a casual world tour.

A surprisingly high finish for Adam considering his criminally modest UK success, but it’s a testament to his fans that his talents don’t go unnoticed.



04 demi lovato

Slyly stealing the show from under Britney’s nose on The X Factor and upping her game musically has boosted Demi’s stock massively. LOVATIC 4 LYF.

03 taylor swift

This time last year, Taylor was a relatively niche country-pop act as far as the UK was concerned. Some amazing singles later, and here she is.

02 pink

It’s easy to forget Pink when listing the world’s greatest artists, especially when she’s not in the midst of an album campaign. Stars like Beyonce, Britney, Katy, Gaga etc may fill more column inches, but Pink is every bit as phenomenal a popstar - she can always be relied on for an amazing single or two, she puts on some of the most acclaimed tours in the business and she manages to marry giant radio-friendly pop hooks with widespread critical acclaim. She is one of the best in the world.


to vote for up to 15 acts from a given shortlist of 150. Kelly Clarkson beat 8,713 people voted in this poll - Pink by a margin of just 15 votes, more than 1,500 more than the last and Pink in turn trumped Taylor two Big Vote Things (Best Girlband Swift by 13. The Top 5 generally was and Boyband singles of the last 15 very close, basically. The closest finyears) - and each voter was allowed ish in the Top 50 - unless you count


Cher Lloyd at 50 and Nadine Coyle at 51 - was between Cheryl Cole at 24 and Louis Tomlinson at 23, who were only 1 vote apart. There were no ties inside the Top 50, but several occured further down the list.



01 kelly clarkson Kelly Clarkson is amazing. This is indisputable. Nobody sticks around for ten years after shooting to fame on a TV talent show without being some kind of brilliant. But still, her finish at the very top of this poll - out of a given longlist of 150 - is pleasantly surprising. After all, she’s never really in the tabloids, her singles don’t always set the charts on fire (‘Catch My Breath’ peaking outside the UK Top 40? Was that a

sick joke?) and there isn’t the kind of general hysteria around her that you find with so many of her peers. And yet here she is.

like her. She has fans, but hardly any ‘haters’. At some point in time most modern music fans have warmed to one Kelly empowerment anthem or another, and because of the relative The theory is that, while others lack of fanfare and gimmicks around may be so high-profile that they her she’s been able to come and provoke passionate hatred as much go as she pleases; easily lasting 10 as they provoke passionate adora- years on the strength of a likeable tion, everyone seems to quite like a personality and a fucking brilliant bit of Clarko. If you don’t love her, repertoire of pop music. Long may chances are you at least don’t dis- she continue.


AND THE WINNER ISN’T... As Leanne Mitchell’s album sadly fails to register on the UK chart, why do so many talent show winners struggle to convert votes into record sales? SHAUN KITCHENER has a wonder. There was a time in the not-toodistant past when a talent show winner was a rare specialty; a new arrival into the world of popular song with legions of record-buying fans behind them, ready to snap up whatever tour tickets, hastily-recorded albums or cheaply-produced merchandise popped up on the market. Now, in 2013, these kinds of televisual assaults are on so many times in a year that it’s hard to keep track of those who only had a brief period of commercial success, but what happened to those who didn’t take off at all.

we sadly have another unsuccessful victor’s launch to add to an ever-growing heap. She wasn’t the first public-voted champion to fail at converting votes to sales, and she certainly won’t be the last. But what is it that goes wrong? Why is there often so big a difference between how much adoration an artist gets when they come up trumps on telly and how many copies of their album are bought?

It varies from winner to winner, but in the case of Leanne, there seem to be a couple of distinct explanations. For a start, the reaction most people had when readAs Leanne Mitchell’s horrendous- ing about her LP missing the Top ly-promoted debut album sinks 100 was “wait… she has an album without a trace like some sort of out?”. You’d never have that issue self-fulfilling prophecy (she was with an X Factor winner; adverts branded a flop within days of her would be scattered all over the victory on The Voice UK last year), shop and the artist would be get-


ting dragged from magazine to TV show to radio station to newspaper to magazine to newspaper to website to radio station to etc etc like their lives depended on it. Where’s Leanne been? She popped up on BBC Breakfast, the odd quote has emerged here and there, but that’s just about it. Sources quoted by a couple of websites claim that she wasn’t a fan of the promotion circuit and just wanted to focus on the singing… which is all well and good, but nobody will listen to the singing if they don’t know there is singing to be listened to. Whether those sources were accurate or not is of course anyone’s guess, but if they’re false, then the label themselves have a lot to answer for. Were they just not really trying because they knew people were expecting a flop anyway? Or did they have a go at pushing her but

media outlets just weren’t inter- wanted to massively cut down on ested? the amount they, er, produced. But even last year’s live rounds felt The press coverage also didn’t rushed, and as a result it became help. When her winner’s single tricky for the public to really get ‘Run To You’ stalled at No45 last behind anybody – let alone someyear that was basically that. Her one like Leanne. She didn’t really career had already been declared break through as a solid contenddead in various news stories and er, but by the time she wowed it’s almost as if it would have been everyone with her cover of ‘Run To a massive shocker if the album You’ on her third live show, it was had gone anywhere within sniffing already the semi-final – perhaps a distance of the Top 20. As it is, it little too late for a long-lasting loyhasn’t even achieved the Top 100 al fanbase to be formed and main– at least not in its opening week, tained. anyway. So for Leanne, a number of facIt would also be fair to suggest tors are evident. For others, soluthat perhaps Leanne fell victim tions are harder to come across. to the whole format of the show Why, for example, did Matt Cardle from whence she came. With rat- find himself dubbed a flop winner ings dropping lower and lower when he didn’t really flop? He inwith every live show, it was under- sists that he parted ways mutualstandable this year that producers ly with his record label and wasn’t

dropped, but that won’t stop the media – or James Arthur, it would seem - referring to him as an unsuccessful champion. His first proper single may have struggled to find longevity in the charts, but his album didn’t. And, overshadowed by the more higher-profile successes of Rebecca Ferguson, Cher Lloyd and some band called One Direction, he simply looked poor in comparison. Now signed to an indie label, he’s continued to sell a steady amount of tour tickets and nabbed himself a second Top 10 record; more than can be said for poor Alexandra Burke, whose last album limped into the Top 20 before making a very, very hasty retreat. Yet still, he will not go down in The X Factor’s history as one of their all-time favourite winners, as ludicrously popular as he was when he actually compet-


ed. No other act ever came close to him in the betting markets, and the public voting results tell a similar story. Weird. Joe McElderry’s in a similar boat. After he left SyCo after one lukewarm album, he got a second wind courtesy of Popstar To Operastar, and saw his sophomore set Classic outsell his post-X Factor debut Wide Awake within a matter of weeks. To date he has now released four albums and is only now, several years after apparently “flopping”, set to grace the dreaded world of seasonal pantomime. But even though people didn’t really seem to notice his surprising longevity, the funny thing was that, actually, ‘proper pop’ album Wide Awake was actually pretty strong. Why didn’t more people buy it? Was it because ‘Ambitions’, its lead single, wasn’t accessible enough? Was it because


of the humiliation surrounding that whole Rage Against The Machine thing? Why didn’t his votes convert to sales, when Olly Murs’ lack of votes has? Going back further to when these shows weren’t just simply televised A&R festivals, it’s a lot easier to identify why winners didn’t stick. Within weeks of winning, Steve Brookstein already had a shoddy covers album on the shelves and it was pretty apparent that nobody was really banking on him as a viable pop product once the curtain fell on The X Factor’s first ever series. Similarly, Hear’Say were milked to death in such a short space of time (two albums in one year is never a good sign of quality control) that their Best Before date may as well have been stamped to their foreheads. But even Pop Idol, which introduced us to the incredibly “cred-

ible” Will Young, served up a dud with poor Michelle McManus. She was an easy winner on the shortlived show’s second and final season, so why couldn’t she sustain the record sales? Perhaps the shows themselves have a lot to answer for. If people are watching and voting just because they’re swept up in the excitement of presenters’ hyperbole and melodramatic VTs, then a few months further down the line they’re probably not going to give a damn anymore. You may be distraught, for example, when someone you love gets voted off of a reality TV show, but a couple of weeks down the line do you still give anywhere near as much of a shit? Probably not. And so it is with winners... the person you wanted to win may be victorious, but there’s often a good chance that once the novelty of the pyrotech-

nic finale has faded, your passion for him/her/them will have faded with it. But if the show does feel like a genuinely big event, then maybe the momentum can be sustained for a little longer than you thought it would. This certainly could explain why Cardle and McElderry have, despite falling under the radar a little, managed to keep hold of loyal fanbases for so long. The X Factor series’ that they featured on were the two most-watched in its history - the show by then was a massive, massive deal and, even if the winners didn’t necessarily re-write the record books, they had such an undeniably collossal platform that at least some hint of success was inevitable.

gled. Sneddon may have carved out a nice career for himself with songwriting, but it’s certainly not the career he thought he was getting when he triumphed over Lemar and Sinead Quinn in the show’s glittering finale. Even though both he and Parks had adequate artistic input and relatively decent reviews, people perhaps didn’t really care about Fame Academy as a show enough to really get behind its victors in the long run.

But despite their OK-ish music, in a lot of cases the lack of longevity can quite easily be put down to simply the quality of the output. The X Factor USA’s first winner, Melanie Amaro, STILL hasn’t reWith that in mind, if you look at leased her debut album because Alex Parks and David Sneddon - none of the teaser singles have the two champions of the BBC’s caught fire. And while ‘Don’t Fail short-lived Fame Academy - you Me Now’ is pretty solid, the rest can probably see why they strug- are admittedly far, far poorer than

you’d expect someone of Amaro’s vocal calibre to be given. Leon Jackson, similarly, was slated for his shoddy release Right Now back in 2008 and, when you pair that with his impossible task of having to follow Leona Lewis’s Spirit campaign, the poor chap was pretty doomed from the outset. While promotional strategy and quality of TV show are often undeniable factors, ultimately it’s surely just gotta come down to the music and the star quality. Girls Aloud came from a naff competition, and look how they fared. Their songs were the dog’s bollocks and their general attitudes made for great popstars. A great platform helps and a terrible platform is a hinderance, but ultimately if there’s no star quality and no decent tuneage, the only way is down. @ShaunKitchener



Remember Fergie’s solo album? Good times. But packed as it was with absolute tunes (and busy as she is making babies) it’s about time for a follow-up. The return of The Dutchess (her spelling, not ours) can’t come soon enough, writes KEIRAN FIELD. 30

Ask anyone who their favourite Black Eyed Pea is, and I’d say 8 Firstly, It’s easy to forget how times out of 10 they will name good Fergie’s vocals can be. Yes, Fergie. And can you blame them? her voice is often disguised by big beats but songs like ‘FiThe addition of Fergie to the group nally’ and Nine’s ‘Be Italian’ make marked the beginning of the Peas’ it pretty clear that Fergie wasn’t quest for global domination and just chosen to be the Peas’ pretty basically led to them becoming frontwoman; she has an excepone of the biggest-selling groups tionally unique voice that would in music history. OK, their success be welcome back in the charts. may not be wholly down to Ms Ferguson, but can you imagine tracks And aside from her voice, there like ‘Meet Me Halfway’, ‘Shut Up’ are plenty of other reasons. For or even the beast that is ‘I Gotta one, Fergie never scrimps on proFeeling’ without Fergie Ferg? duction and if we do get a second album, expect some big name Her inevitable solo career kicked producers to be working on it. off in 2006, which only added to Although she has been accused her popularity. With tracks like of taking a ‘style over substance’ ‘Glamorous’, ‘Clumsy’ and ‘Big approach, this isn’t always a bad Girls Don’t Cry’, it’s no surprise thing. You may or may not be surreally. True, it’s not to everyone’s prised to hear that some reviewers taste, but her album The Dutchess slammed Fergie for her meaningis, undeniably, a fantastic pop al- less lyrics, but us pop freaks can bum. Now it’s been almost seven enjoy songs like ‘London Bridge’ years since its release and the mu- and ‘Fergalicious’ for what they sic industry has been noticeably are. With lines like “such a lady but less Fergalicious in the interim. I’m dancing like a ho”, how could we not? The Dutchess also gives Although the Peas have still been a new meaning to London Bridge going strong, it’s about time that and gives listeners a few lessons in Fergie (alone) returned with a fol- how to spell (G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S) low up album. Here are just a few and how not to spell (T to the A to reasons why the world needs a the S-T-E-Y). This is fun, unadulterDutchess 2.0. ated pop...and I love it.

It would be great to hear some of the silly Fergie we know and love again, but, with a second album, there is also a chance that we could see a completely new Fergie. Seven years is a long time and she will have inevitably grown as an artist. She has also been pregnant and gotten married since her last album so a new one could be just the opportunity for Fergie to put these experiences into her music, hit back at critics and make a different, more mature record. There is also the money to factor in. Not that she’s short on the dough, but Fergie could rake it in if she makes a record that sells even half as well as The Dutchess did. In that respect, it is quite surprising that she has left it this long to put out another LP, but she has promised her fans another one. Let’s hope that this means it is finally in the works; I have no doubt it will be worth the wait. Why? See above. @KieranJField




Released: April 4 2000 Chart Peak: No13 Label: LaFace, Arista Producers: Kevin Briggs, Babyface, Steve Clarke, Kandi Burruss, Terence Abney, Daryl Simmons, Tricky Stewart, Daron Jones Singles: ‘There You Go’, ‘Most Girls’, ‘You Make Me Sick’




op moves quickly, doesn’t it? In a genre where artists like Pixie Lott can go from label’s finest to In Desperate Need Of A Hit mode in one swift album and Jessie J can be offered a judging role on a big-budget talent show after four singles, it’s easy to forget the classics-to-be that pass us by. But that’s what the AMAZEPOP

Modern Classics Collection is for. The mid-00s may not seem like that long ago, for example, but it’s four albums’ worth of time in JLS terms. Heck, Conor Maynard was probably only about 5 years old in 2007, right? So we’ve picked out a trio of masterpieces from bygone years for you to wipe the scratches off and play in a tatty old CD player. Or, y’know, look up on Spotify.

received well both in and out of the United States. It peaked at When a girl chooses her No6 here in the UK and No2 in stage name after a col- Australia, meaning P!nk’s solo our, especially a girly col- career was off to a good start. our at that, you sort of expect sequins and stilettos, With her second single, the repop-princess-come-tween- ception was even better. ‘Most queen, or something similar Girls’ was another feminist mesright? WRONG. sage with a killer bass-line, but this time it had a great video. Still When P!nk arrived into the rocking the fuscia flat-top, she ainstream pop arena in 2000, was in a boxing gym; and with a whether kickboxing or snarling, torso for females everywhere to she was far from girly. As ff the envy P!nk was leading the way in buzz cut and the scowl weren’t strong, androgynous icons. ‘Most enough her debut album was Girls’ increased her commercial bluntly named Can’t Take Me success stateside, peaking at #4 Home and her hair was died a on the Billboard Hot 100 and shocking cerise - the verdict was opening up her horizons further. clearly that this P!nk chick is as Surely proving that she was more hard as nails. pop than R&B, she was booked to open for NSync on their huge Born Alecia Beth Moore in Penn- No Strings Attached tour in mid sylvania, 1979, P!nk was orig- 2000. inally part of girl group Choice (yeah - I hadn’t heard of them either). Despite the band’s failure they disbanded after just 3 years in 1998 - these influences seem to be what perpetuated the genre of her first album. Looking back, it’s hard to see the transition from Can’t Take Me A far cry from the ballads or pop/ Home to her later albums; howrock tracks she has released more ever the answers seem to come recently, Can’t Take Me Home from Ms Moore herself. She was marketed as an R&B album. openly admits that this album Spouting lyrics of independence is full of music she didn’t really and decidedly anti-male, her want to make. Lead more by profirst single ‘There You Go’ was ducers and profit that anything By BETH DAVISON

else, in her early days P!nk does look a little uncomfortable. Her third single ‘You Make Me Sick’ seems aggressive and yet with a hint of satire as it opens with a fictional phone conversation between P!nk and a female friend. It marked the least successful release from the album and perhaps proved that whilst her image made an impact, it wasn’t enough to sustain a whole career. Whilst received fairly well in most countries, Can’t Take Me Home is not a genre of music which Moore has particularly returned to, and perhaps it’s this which lead to the title of her second studio album, Missundaztood, the following year. Labelled by Entertainment Weekly as “just another brick in the R&B wall”, P!nk could easily have been a one-album-wonder. However, CTMO sold over 2 million copies in the US alone and the three singles she chose to release are still well known. The singer herself has gone from strength to strength and, now free to make the music she loves, is a genuine talent among todays A-Listers. Can’t Take Me Home is a pivotal album; less an iconic classic and more a stepping stone to glory, this album seems to act as her gateway to greatness. @BethBecomesHer_




Released: June 12 2000 Chart peak: No1 Label: Polydor Producers: Cathy Dennis, StarGate, Simon Ellis, Absolute, more Singles: ‘Reach’, ‘Natural’, ‘Never Had A Dream Come True’


It’s hard to believe now but there was a time when pop acts with a near 50/50 ratio of girls and boys could fly to the top end of the charts. And that time was at the start of the new millennium, when S Club 7 were at the top of their game.


7 S Club 7 2000 saw them win their first BRIT award and their hit BBC TV series screen to just over 110 countries. And before the cannabis scandals and Paul’s departure that ultimately led to their demise 10 years ago, they were quietly capable of being a brilliant, multi dimensional jukebox of sounds in a pop landscape dominated by bland solo

Spice material and stool sitting boybands. 7 opens on the song that is by and large the group’s anthem even to this day. Despite being unable to dislodge Sonique’s mighty dance anthem ‘It Feels so Good’ from the top, the self affirming, preHigh School Musical candy rush of ‘Reach’ stayed in the charts

To suggest an album for the Modern Classics Collection, or if you want to write about one yourself, tweet us @AMAZEPOP

for the whole summer and went on to become one of the biggest selling singles of the year, as well as a quintessential staple of wedding discos ever since. The hugely underrated re-written Norma Ray cover ‘Natural’, situating a R&B groove around the oboe riff from ‘Pavane’ by classical composer Gabriel Faure is a true work of genius, and illustrated Rachel Stevens’ star quality long before she was to release the two brilliant solo albums pop connoisseurs know and love her for now. In fact, the R&B vibe is omnipresent throughout much of the album but it’s done in a stylish manner whilst still being good pop - particularly on the Jo/Bradley-led ‘All in Love is Fair’ and ‘Cross My Heart’, and the laidback, almost trip-hoppy re-interpretation of Urban Species’ ‘Spiritual Love’. The anthemic, four to the floor single that never was ‘Bring the House Down’ is another highlight, as are the two solo numbers from Tina towards the end of the album in ‘I’ll Be There’ and ‘Stand by You’. Though they were to diverge off towards the disco for their last two albums, 7 is arguably the strongest album that S Club made whilst they were still a septet. It embraced their fun and serious sides in equal measure and that’s what makes it such a good pop record. @ThePensmith10

FREE ME Emma Released: February 9 2004 Chart peak: No7 Label: Polydor Producers: Cathy Dennis, Boo Dan Productions, Ray Hedges, more Singles: ‘Free Me’, ‘Maybe’, ‘I’ll Be There’, ‘Crickets Sing For Anamaria’ By SHAUN KITCHENER I’m gonna go out on a spiced limb and say that Emma Bunton’s Free Me was the best solo Spice era. Better than Geri Haliwell’s No1-spouting Schizophonic, better than any of Melanie C’s 398 albums, better than Victoria Beckham’s retrospectively hilarious VB... The best. Drenched in 60s style production, Free Me oozed fluffy class. Emma dropped the Bunton from her name for this campaign (making her very hard to track down on iTunes and Spotify) and turned into a sophisticated retro chick. The title track sounds like it could have been a Bond theme, if Bond was ever a chick flick, and ‘Maybe’ is arguably the best solo

Spice single ever released. Except for maybe that one Sporty did with Brian Adams. I digress. For 12 tracks Bunters struts, purs and chants her way through a string of orchestra-backed pop gems, including the frankly bizarre ‘Crickets Sing For Anamaria’, the relatively contemporary-sounding ‘Who The Hell Are You?’ (sounds like a good fit for the first Girls Aloud album, as it goes) and sweeping almost-ballad ‘Tomorrow’. Released today, it would probably flop in an instant (it barely struck gold 9 years ago), but Free Me isn’t a billion miles away from actual Spice Girls stuff, and it remains Baby’s defining moment as a soloist. @ShaunKitchener



LAWSON Taking one tween-friendly pop act at a time and explaining why they’re basically brilliant

Any all-male pop act that insists on not being called a boyband is bound to be looked down on by many - but with a great brand of guitar-pop at their disposal, Shaun Kitchener reckons Lawson deserve some recognition. The thing about bands like Lawson is that they can harp on as much as they like about how they’re Not A Boyband and how they like to Just Rock Out when performing live, but at the end of the day their core fanbase will pretty much be comprised of younger teen girls who, were they a decade or so younger, would probably have aligned themselves similarly with the short-lived Rooster or a freshfaced McFly. I’m not gonna argue why Lawson shouldn’t be counted as a boyband – they are, after all, a band of boys – but I do think they deserve a bit of credit for being very good at sticking out some cracking poprock tuneage that sets them com-


fortably apart from acts that they would otherwise be far too easily compared to. They’re not the young Coldplay they seem to want to be, but what they are is a great act with a great repertoire.

together and, with the additional recruitments of bass player Ryan Fletcher and his old pal Joel Peat, a guitarist, Lawson was born. When the quartet began making music in early 2010, it didn’t take long to attract the attention of record label execs and consumers alike. Their YouTube work was brilliant, and quickly established them a loyal fanbase – covers of The Saturdays’ ‘Missing You’, Bruno Mars’ ‘Grenade’ and Lady GaGa’s ‘Marry The Night’, among others, all sounded brilliant and easily notched up tens of thousands of views.

The band’s beginnings are modest. Lead singer Andy Brown had previously been drafted in to make up the numbers in short-lived boyband Avenue, who had already tried and failed to impact The X Factor. That, incidentally, is where he struck up a friendship with The Wanted’s Max George that still seems pretty strong today. But when drummer Adam Pitts contacted him through his acoustic MySpace page and suggested they The group bagged a two-album meet up for a drink, the beginnings deal with Polydor in 2011 and were of the band were already coming quickly ushered off to support acts

like The Wanted and The Saturdays on their huge arena tours. As buzz around them began to grow, in 2012 they finally lifted the veil on their proper debut single – ‘When She Was Mine’, a summer-friendly mid-tempo guitar-pop track that sailed into the Top 5 upon its release and laid the groundwork for stronger things to come. The first stronger thing was the exceptional second single ‘Taking Over Me’, which went one better in the charts (No3) and ensured that the group would be more than a one-hit wonder. It was this track that began turning the heads of serious pop critics and really began broadening the group’s horizons beyond the young tween female demographic. Old fan favourite ‘Standing In The Dark’ ushered in the boys’ debut album Chapman Square last autumn, with extra media attraction coming from the fact that Brown

wrote it Mollie King of The Saturdays, whom he had previously dated. The song fell just short of the Top 5 but still finished its chart run as the band’s biggest-selling single to date, and the LP comfortable settled at No4 upon its release. In my opinion, the fourth and final single from the record was the strongest. January’s ‘Learn To Love Again’ was a stadium-sized pop-rock anthem that perfectly united Lawson’s brand of tuneage with the kind of big, radio-friendly work producers Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub are renowned for. It didn’t quite manage to infiltrate the Top 10, but as the fourth cut from a successful album, it certainly can’t be considered a flop. The group’s live performances are a treat, and its a shame that only their most dedicated fans get to see them. While I haven’t caught

them on any of their 4885 headline tours, I did see them recently at the Allstarz Summer Party in Reading, and - much as I scowl at any act who declares in the most arrogant way possible that they play their own instruments - the band-ness of Lawson really did give their set a bit more of an edge. Their particular ‘sound’ really suited that live effect, and several of their songs sounded far better live than on record. In the largely electronic, studio-enhanced world of pop music, that’s quite something. They’ve enlisted B.o.B. for their next single ‘Brokenhearted’, and as they prepare to enter a new campaign I suggest you embrace the lad-pop and board the Lawson train. @ShaunKitchener




You’ is a really strong debut from a boyband who desperately needed Kodaline - ‘Love Like This’: A uke- to set themselves apart from their lele, some whistling and an accor- obvious rivals. A lovely start. 85% dion make this folky toe-tapper a real treat. 76% Vince Kidd feat Vanessa White‘The Zoo’: His affected vocal stylTitles marked with a * were reviewed in a previous Phillip Phillips - ‘Home’: The victor ings will annoy as many people issue but had their release dates moved. of American Idol’s eleventh season as they impress, but Kidd is much sounds marvellous on this debut more accessible here than on last JUNE 2 single; finally seeing the light of year’s ‘Sick Love’, and The SaturAfrojack ft Chris Brown - ‘As day on this side of the Atlantic. A day’s Vanessa seems to relish doing Your Friend’*: At times club-pop really surprising choice of corona- something a little different. 68% by numbers, at others like the tion single for a talent show winner, JUNE 9 soundtrack to a Sonic The Hedge- and a very, very good one too. 80% hog game, Afrojack goes for allout bonkers with his latest project. The Script - ‘Millionaires’: This is Alicia Keys - ‘New Day’: One of the It treads the line between brilliant more like it. After a triple-wham- world’s most low-key superstars is and terrible very precariously. 70% my of crud, The Script are back all sass in this irresistable, classy to their ‘Breakeven’/’For The First cut from the excellent Girl On Fire Bastille - ‘Laura Palmer’*: The Time’/’Man Who Can’t Be Moved’ LP. 86% next single from arguably the year’s best in this hugely likeable rock balBridgit Mendler - ‘Hurricane’: best album so far, ‘Laura Palmer’ is lad. 82% ‘Ready Or Not’ may not have been a euphoric hands-in-the-air stroke of genius, helmed by a chorus that Union J - ‘Carry You’: It doesn’t particularly original, but it was unsettles for nothing less than top make the Earth move, but ‘Carry deniably catchy. Sadly the same can’t be said for ‘Hurricane’, which - likeable as it is - puts Mendler at precarious risk of being a one hit wonder. 59%


volume. 92%

Mark Owen - ‘Stars’: Don’t let Take That’s ‘Shine’ put you off - Mark Owen heads down a slightly different route on his first proper solo single for a good few years, and it’s a strong offering. Thoughtful and mature, with a great “adult” chorus. 71% Tegan & Sara - ‘I Was A Fool’: Among the most radio-friendly cuts from one of the best albums of



It’s been a rocky road, but the trio’s debut album is finally out. Was it worth the wait? [Page 41]

the year so far, ‘I Was A Fool’ is a beautiful, melancholic midtempo heartbreaker with a cracking chorus and super piano riffing. 89% Wiley feat Angel & Tinchy Stryder - ‘Lights On’: The single choice that prompted Wiley to quit his record deal, ‘Lights On’ is certainly a lot ‘deeper’ than his more club-ready bangers, but it’s hard to see it achieving the same success. 63% JUNE 16 Avril Lavigne - ‘Here’s To Never Growing Up’: Avril can always be relied on to deliver an amazing hit single, and that’s exactly what she does yet again with ‘HTNGU’ - a brilliant summer anthem with the right amount of wistfulness and all-out celebration. 94%


Baz Luhrmann is known for his extravagant approach to film-making - how well does that suit this classic tale? [Page 46]

in-the-air euphoria. 81% Dizzee Rascal feat Robbie Williams - ‘Goin’ Crazy’: Odd. But weirdly good. 78% Jason Derulo - ‘The Other Side’: Jayyyyson Der-ooooolo has been a lot more irritating than he is here - ‘The Other Side’ is still far from a masterpiece but line it up next to some of his previous hits and it’s a bloody Grammy -winner. 73%

Bruno Mars - ‘Treasure’: Bruno comes over a little Jackson-ish on the third single from the Unorthodox Jukebox album, and it’s another surefire hit. Decent. 75% Cahill feat Kimberley Locke - ‘Feel The Love’: Cahill is a name most often affiliated with amazing club remixes of other people’s pop songs, but this is a banger in its own right. Locke sounds like a mix between Alexandra Burke and Agnes, and the production is as polished and rave-ready as you’d expect. Great hands-


REVIEWS: SINGLES John Newman - ‘Love Me Again’: Chap from Rudimental smash hit goes it alone with massive tune; not exactly lacking in the chorus department. 87%

Leanne Mitchell - ‘Pride’: What should have been the big lead-in single for this bafflingly horrendous album campaign, ‘Pride’ has a whiff of Emeli Sande’s ‘Next To Me’ about it, but is a very strong track in its own right, too. 84% Nervo - ‘Hold On’: An EDM-bynumbers banger, disappointingly. You’ll either think it’s alright or tire of it immediately depending on your tolerance levels for This Kind Of Thing. 55% Ruth Lorenzo - ‘The Night’: JLS have released four albums and announced their split since The X Factor 2008, but it seems Ruth Lorenzo is only just warming up. ‘The Night’ is a commendable 90s-style rocker but is easily forgettable. 58% Tom Odell - ‘Another Love’: Odell hasn’t really taken off yet in the same way that his Brit Critics’ Choice predecessors did, but sadly it doesn’t seem like ‘Another Love’ has enough ball-grabbing shine to it to get the job done. 57%

Lucy Spraggan - ‘Lighthouse’: Spraggers kicks off her major-label career with exactly the kind of thing she does best: simple, guitar-led indie-pop with oodles of sentiment on ‘Alive’; a Danny O’Donoghue co- and heartfelt lyrics. 89% write with an exceptional chorus. 88% The Saturdays - ‘Gentleman’: At times, The Sats can be accused of Kamaliya - ‘I’m Alive’: Euroqueen being the country’s safest, least Kamaliya is still unlikely to break exciting girlband - but this is not the UK if this bland flamboyopop is one of those times. ‘Gentleman’ is anything to go by. Chorus is alright. a brave choice of single and - after though. 49% many, many listens - it just about starts to make sense. 71% Kelly Clarkson - ‘People Like Us’: Kelly’s knack for turning angst into Taylor Swift feat Ed Sheeran empowerment is rife on this fitting ‘Everything Has Changed’: It may final release from her Chapter One not be as much of a riot as ‘We Are collection. Like ‘Stronger’, it’s as Never...’, ‘...Trouble’ or ‘22’, but this gay as a maypole and thoroughly is a lovely moment of quiet from amazing. 93% Swift’s brilliant Red LP and Sheeran is a natural fit for a guest vocal. The Wanted - ‘Walks Like Rihan- 77% na’: Once you see past the bizarre and needless gimmick of the RiAll dates are subject to change. hanna namecheck, ‘WLR’ is an annoyingly catchy Dr Luke production with just enough going for it to counter the boys’ blatant desperation for a ‘Glad You Came’sized smash hit. 62% JUNE 30

Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX - ‘I Love It’*: Bolstered in popularity thanks to HBO’s Girls, this phenomenal Bo Bruce - ‘Alive’: The only con- enormorave - first released in the testant from The Voice UK so far to US last year - is sheer perfection. score a Top 10 album, Bo is brilliant Play it loud, jump around. 95% JUNE 23



STOOSHE - LONDON WITH THE LIGHTS ON The StooShe launch hasn’t been the smoothest of rides. In the year since their last Top 10 single, the enormously successful ‘Black Heart’, they’ve released and abandoned a cover of TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’ and tellingly delayed this debut LP two times. But here it finally is, and it’s actually a very good collection of tunes. The girls’ ballsy attitude schtick isn’t as unbearable as their mainstream debut ‘Love Me’ sug-

gested, and the general platter over the shop on the album - flit of motown-flavoured pop hits far between entertaining and unnecmore than it misses. essary, and occasionally some of the lyrical content is a little too Next single ‘My Man Music’ in par- over-wrought when it comes to ticular is an irresistable treat, and self-image, self-confidence, etc. It - even if the lyrics are a bit Daily also would have been nice to have Mail stereotype - the melody on some of their more provocative ‘Hoochie Mama’ is hard not to material from before their mainlove. Latest single ‘Slip’ remains stream breakthrough make the an under-appreciated highlight, final cut. and the piano-only ballad ‘Fly Again’ drops the pace to magnif- But generally, London With The icent effect. Lights On is an unexpected treat. There’s a lot to like about the vast In the con column, the girls’ ad- majority of the tracklisting, and libs - which were evident on hopefully it performs well enough ‘Love Me’ and are scattered all to warrant a follow-up. 86%



DEMI LOVATO - DEMI With a well-received role on The X Factor USA and more tabloid prominence than ever before, Demi Lovato’s star is continuing to ascend - no mean feat considering she’s been in the public eye since 2002. So it’s no massive shocker that fourth LP Demi is rammed with the kind of big, brash pop songs usually reserved for only the biggest of names.

of the collection’s 13 tracks, and with co-writers and producers like Ryan Tedder, Savan Kotecha, Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub on board, there are radio-ready hits peppered left, right and centre. And truthfully at least 9 of the tracks here would make sensible single choices - ‘Made In The USA’, ‘Fire Starter’ and Cher Lloyd collab ‘Really Don’t Care’ are big stereo-hogging pop masterstrokes, while ‘Without The Love’, ‘Nightingale’ and piano-only ‘In Case’ put Demi’s sizeable vocals to good use in a more down-tempo context.

Lovato takes a writing credit on 10 While there isn’t anything particu-


larly boundary-breaking about the set (‘Heart Attack’, one of the best singles of 2013, aside), its strength is just its sheer pop force. The standard only drops on a couple of occasions (‘Never Been Hurt’ could easily have been excluded), and other than that it’s just great song after great song. Demi’s voice is maturing with age, her songwriting is evidently in as good a shape as ever, and - perhaps most importantly - she’s never anything less than hugely likeable. She admits that she hopes to go global with this LP, and it’d be tricky to bet against her. 90%

REVIEWS: ALBUMS LEANNE MITCHELL - LEANNE MITCHELL Credit where credit’s due to Leanne Mitchell - she reportedly rejected the idea of releasing a hastily-assembled covers album after winning The Voice UK last year; opting instead to put some solid hours into a record of (mostly) original material.

standard cynic might expect - uptempo opener ‘Pride’, for example, is a brilliant, ‘Next To Me’-esque toe-tapper, and the beautifully stripped-back ‘Walk You Home’, dedicated to a lost loved one, is exquisite. Yes, exquisite. ‘No Man’s Land’ is well worth checking out as well.

What’s lacking is a real stamp of identity, originality and exciteThere’s a lot to like about her epon- ment. It’s a cliche, but she’s missymous album. It’s as original as ing an X factor. The barrage of bala jam sandwich, but some of the lads in the second half is tiresome, tracks are more likeable than the and even the full studio cut of teas-

er single ‘If I Knew Then’ is as beige as they come in its fully-produced form (it was just an acoustic piano recording before). Some songs, like ‘To Love Someone Like You’ are so grand and packed with cheese that the sentiment is totally lost, while others are just outright dull. So it’s a mixed start for Mitchell. While there is more to like than its sales figures will suggest, there’s also - disappointingly - not quite enough to silence any of the more stubborn critics. 59%

GABRIELLE APLIN - ENGLISH RAIN She may be a knee-high 20-year-old but Gappers has worked hard to get where she is; rising through the independent circuit until she eventually bagged herself a major label deal and the chance to release a fully-fledged debut album.

comfortably setting the pace for much of what follows.

haunting effect, and the result is quite affecting.

Her quiet ditties are much more successful than those that opt for a bigger sound, which is probably just down to the size of her own pipes. ‘How Do You Feel Today?’, for example, with just a guitar and a few strings to accompany it, comes across far better than the much grander, more bombasEnglish Rain isn’t particularly tic ‘Keep On Walking’. Along those boundary-breaking but it is incred- lines, mid-album ballad ‘Salvation’ ibly likeable. Aplin’s songwriting is brilliant - backed by a piano riff is likeable and touching through- similar to the one that accompaout, with singles ‘Panic Cord’ and nies OneRepublic’s ‘Apologize’, it ‘Please Don’t Say You Love Me’ sees Aplin’s voice used to its full

English Rain is generally a very pleasant record. It won’t change the world and it’s unlikely to do for Aplin what, say, + did for Ed Sheeran. But it’s a lovely listen, one with plenty of radio-friendly hooks and remarkably accomplished for an artist of such a young age. 71%


REVIEWS: LIVE Apparently Reading’s Madejski Stadium hasn’t played host to a music event for six years, but the all-new Allstarz Summer Party didn’t seem to have too much trouble booking big names for the bill. Headliner Jessie J stormed the stage with a 90-minute set, following successful stage stints from Lawson, Union J, Amelia Lily, JLS and newcomers such as The Vamps and Charlie Brown. Jessie was of course the star of the day; the stage decked out in her own special set while others with brief 20-minute spots had to make do with a straightforward set-up. The Voice UK judge opened with a blinding remix of ‘Price Tag’ before belting her way through her repertoire of fan favourites. It’s no secret that her voice is astounding, and actually her banter was pretty good between tunes as well. Her aside though, it was Lawson who turned in the best performance. Playing their own instruments gave them a massive advantage as they made the stadium shake with enormotunes ‘Learn To Love Again’, ‘Standing In The Dark’ and Swedish House Mafia’s ‘Don’t You Worry Child’. Union J put in some great vocals but singing to a dodgy backing track did them no favours, and Amelia Lily did a good job with her trio of singles, a Paramore cover and stripped-back album track ‘Blue’. The atmosphere was family-friendly, the music was of a decent standard and hopefully Allstarz will be back again in 2014. 80%





Cries that The Apprentice has lost its touch and become nothing more than a tired old format are becoming more and more frequent. As the show launches into what must by now be its 73rd season, those cries are louder than ever. It’s true - the format has barely changed one iota. But the Beeb are clearly fans of the old “If it ain’t broke..” saying and know that, if you strike the right balance between loud morons and loud viable candidates, you’re still going to have a good TV show on your

hands. And this year’s mix is a good one - there don’t seem (yet) to be any characters to sit up there with the show’s legends, but the mix is just about good enough to keep the quality relatively high.

arrogant quotes spouted by the show’s more loathsome characters are still fun to watch and there’s still plenty of tension to be enjoyed as Lord Alan Sugar decides which hopeless loser to send packing.

The 2013 season isn’t a classic one, though. In spite of the casting; the tasks, the blunders and the boardroom confrontations have been seen countless times before, and naysayers perhaps have a point this year more than ever before. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a good watch - Karren Brady and Nick Hewer remain in fine form,

There are whispers that next year’s series will be the last one and, as it stands, that’s probably a wise move. For now, the show is still worth tuning in for and is a welcome mid-year treat, but it is beginning to show its age and could perhaps do with being retired before it gets too predictable. 74%




American novels. Arguably it’s less well known here in the UK so let me paraphrase. Nick Carraway is a war veteran who, for the entirety of the film, is recounting a summer spent in the company of his millionaire neighbour J Gatsby. What unfolds is a tale of love, lust, drama and darkness as mysteries are unveiled and marriages crumble all amidst the New England heat of the summer of 1922.

So: If you didn’t know that the powers that be were remaking the film of the iconic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby then you must having been living under a rock somewhere. Teaser trailers have emblazoned cinema screens, billboards and dark crevices of cyber space for the last 6 months and with Baz Luhrman confirmed as director right from the off it’s safe to say One of the best things about this that I was excited. adaptation is Luhrman’s talent in capturing the glitz of the Roaring The story is remarkably famous Twenties. As we would expect havacross the pond, cropping up in ing seen Moulin Rouge, everything practically every high school sylla- is turned up to the max with the bus and labelled one of the great sweeping cinematography Luhr-


man is famous for littering this narrative as well. The similarities stop there though; in all honesty I hated Moulin Rouge and for me it was an irritating love story smothered with cheesy melodrama. Thankfully Gatsby doesn’t have the gaudiness of the Parisian musical and the source material is substantially better. Since he was executive producer on this project, the best way to describe it is a two hour Jay-Z video. Fireworks dazzle, champaign sparkles and diamonds glisten all to the background of a powerhouse soundtrack - and the cast are as star-studded as the set pieces. With one of the most perfect



castings in recent years Leonardo Dicaprio was born to be Gatsby. Perfectly conveying the power of wealth along with the sadness of regret and anguish of obsession, Dicaprio adds yet another flawless performance to his glowing repertoire. Similarly Carey Mulligan delivers a standout performance as the breathtakingly beautiful but frustratingly vacuous Daisy. Even the support cast excel, again, and it’s great to see Joel Edgerton becoming a more familiar face in Hollywood. Arguably the only weak link would be Tobey Maguire. Whilst Nick Carraway may not be the most thrilling character, Maguire brings nothing new to the performance. He does polite

confusion very well (almost like an American Hugh Grant) but we’ve seen it before; as his character descends into the darker side of the twenties his “drunk acting” leaves much to be desired. As is becoming more and more frequent in cinema these days, the central problem for The Great Gatsby is the 3D release. Almost certainly a financial decision rather than stylistic, the 3D effects add nothing to the feel or look of the film - quite the opposite in fact as the light loss means that all the glitter becomes dull and lifeless.

tistic license - over-doing the lavish to the point of grotesque and bastardizing the true history of the 1920’s. But honestly, that’s sort of the point. Originality is becoming so rare in today’s film releases that I think Luhrman must be commended. Everything about Fitzgerald’s original text screams over the top and with a wonderful cast and fantastic style The Great Gatsby has become one of the more intelligent and enjoyable romps of this summer’s cinematic calendar. 83% @BethBecomesHer_

One other criticism has been that Luhrman has taken too much ar-


s e o r e H g n u s n U Pop's


Oh Jordin Sparks, where art thou? There was a time, not so long ago - actually, fucking ages ago - when it seemed like this American Idol champion was destined for big things. Huge things. But somehow something didn’t quite click, and now she’s in some odd unappreciated no man’s land.

song spent what felt like a millennium skirting around the edges of the UK Top 10 at glacial speeds, but follow-up ‘S.O.S. (Let The Music Play)’ only achieved moderate success. Granted, there were better single choices on the album (‘Walking On Show’ = megatune), but ‘S.O.S.’ certainly deserved to fare better in the US than peaking outside of the Billboard Hot 100. The thing is, J-Sparx’s hit collec- The album sold only 177,000 coption is absolutely brilliant. The ies domestically, according to the then-fresh-faced teen may have oracle that is Wikipedia - a long launched with one of the worst coronation singles in the history of talent shows (look up ‘This Is My Now’), but what followed - the gorgeous mid-tempo pop/R’n’B semi-ballad ‘Tattoo’ - was excellent, and her subsequent release ‘No Air’, featuring Chris Brown, was outstanding. The song recently rose back to prominence courtesy of The Voice UK’s Battle Rounds, and served as a timely reminder to the few of us waiting for her third album that it is long, long overdue. The problem was that for some obscure reason her second album just Didn’t Really Happen. Battlefield’s lead single, its title track, was arguably the best pop song of 2009; packed as it was with Ryan Tedder’s stadium-sized percussion and massive fuck-off choruses. The


way off the 1 million achieved by her eponymous debut. When the third LP was supposedly signalled in by the bizarre ‘I Am Woman’ in 2011 and mustered only a No82 peak Stateside, everything suddenly shuddered to a halt. She’s now promising some progress later this year, but has too much time gone by now? Has she been wasted? I hope not. She’s got a brilliant voice, a likeable personality and a superb ear for a great pop song.





AMAZEPOP - Issue 03  

Union J discuss everything under the sun in an exclusive interview, plus the results of a Top 50 Popstars In The World poll are notched up,...