Joe McElderry's Ambitions - A Five Minute Chat
Did anyone else spot the huge conceptual joke going on at the heart of Joe McElderry's comeback single? To have an X Factor winner releasing his first song outside of the safe glow of his victory, and for that song to have a chorus which goes "ambitions are already starting to fade"? Amazing.
If you thought the song was written on Joe's behalf, you'd have to conclude that someone is trying to warn him to enjoy his time in the limelight while it lasts. Someone like STEVE BROOKSTEIN!
Actually, it wasn't written for him, and in fact, if you're from Norway, you'll already be more than familiar with the song, as performed by Donkeyboy. It was at No.1 in your charts last year. No.1 for THIRTEEN WEEKS. Can you imagine? In terms of obvious song choice, that's like the winner of the Norwegian X Factor doing a 'We No Speak Americano', if that song had stayed at No.1 for twelve more weeks than it did.
Of course, the McElderry version is slightly faster than the original, all the better to hurry the listener towards that lovely chorus. They've made a special feature of it, as Syco acts often do, by making it so much louder than the verses. That's the production equivalent of putting big neon arrows on either side, with a sign saying "Astonishing Chorus Here!".
(Here's the video. You don't often see columns with socks on, do you?)
Anyway, the song's being released now because the X Factor is back on the telly. So here's a brief chat I had with Joe earlier this week. Watch out, he gets fiery!
ChartBlog: Hi Joe!
Joe: Hi how's it going?
ChartBlog: Very well thank you. Is it nice to be promoting a single just because it's out, rather than to try and beat another single in a chart race?
Joe: [laughing] Yeah it's a bit of an easier ride this time.
ChartBlog: And is 'Ambitions' closer to the sort of music that you yourself would like to make? 'The Climb' was very much an X Factor winner's song...
Joe: Yeah, definitely. DEFINITELY. That was why we made the conscious decision of choosing it, cos it's a closer...well it IS the style I wanted to do. I've always wanted to have a song where I can move around on stage, have lots of dancers, things like that. So the fact that I've been able to do that, like a big performance aspect song, has been fantastic.
ChartBlog: And it's a massive song in Scandanavia already, isn't it? Donkeyboy's original version was No.1 for thirteen weeks. THIRTEEN!
Joe: Yeah! Crazy isn't it?
ChartBlog: You're doing pretty well though. Didn't your fans manage to crash the iTunes server?
Joe: Yeah it did! We'll have to see what happens. I mean it's a big week with big, big songs, so we'll see. Fingers crossed. I'm not gonna get my hopes up for anything yet though.
ChartBlog: And the b-side 'If You Love Me' is heading up the charts too, isn't it? That's quite rare too.
Joe: Yeah! I heard about that! That's climbing up really fast as well, isn't it? That's great!
ChartBlog: OK, so for every rockbore who claims they ended your career...what HAVE you been doing since Christmas?
Joe: Well I've basically been putting all my concentration and time into the album. Y'know, to make sure that it's a strong album, and something that resented...resented?...REPRESENTED me, and something that I was proud of. I didn't want to just rush something out and neither did the label. So I made the conscious decision of waiting like every other winner has in the past couple of years, and hopefully it'll pay off.
ChartBlog: It makes a lot of sense for you to release your album now that the show is back on the TV and people are thinking about it again. Mind you, the media coverage of the show isn't really about music at the moment...
Joe: Yes, and that's getting on my nerves a bit, actually. Because I just think let them bloody sing the songs! Let them sing the songs and then once you get to know them as people, in a couple of week's time, then people can have their opinions. But everybody's being so horrible about them. I feel a bit sorry for them, y'know this Katie girl... and obviously Cher had it last week. Y'know give them a chance, they're not used to any of this kind of stuff. I do feel a bit sorry for them, y'know. The press interest has gone a bit out of control this year.
ChartBlog: And if you do one really startling performance, like Cher did, there's an expectation that they'll do well, and then it becomes a story about pressure and...
Joe: ...and then they start to try and knock her down.
ChartBlog: And really this is a TV show about singing. I know people's emotions are very high, but it's not life or death, and it shouldn't feel like life or death, should it?
Joe: No, but also it means a lot to these contestants. And I think it's hard enough getting up there in front of 14 million people and singing for the public - which is obviously what they want to do, and I loved doing that last year, I didn't find that a chore. But to wake up the next day and have the newspapers slating you for every single move you made the night before, on the show. And they're picking out, like you said, things that haven't really got anything to do with the singing. And at the end of the day it is a singing competition. It's supposed to be a fun, lighthearted entertainment show that gives people the opportunity of a lifetime. It should be fun. It should be all happy and positive.
ChartBlog: Is that what your album is like?
Joe: Well, it's very similar to the single. A lot of uptempo...there's a few ballads, not much. And it's just fun, it's fresh. I think it represents me as a person. I like to have fun on stage and I think that's what it's about really.
ChartBlog: Just like the hokey-cokey. OK, thanks Joe. Best of luck for Sunday!
Joe: Thank you! Bye! Bye! Bye! Bye!
NOTE: He really did say "Bye!" four times.