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Joe McElderry - 'The Climb'

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Fraser McAlpine | 12:06 UK time, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Joe McElderry

Here's ChartBlog's resident X Factor expert - Steve Perkins - on the song of the show of the controversy of the moment.

Well, this is a bit of a novelty - it's not often I review the same song twice in the space of a year, unless I'm having a particularly forgetful spell. And interestingly, when I reviewed the Miley Cyrus original (and wow, I really didn't think I'd be using the phrase "the Miley Cyrus original" for at least another five years), I mentioned that it sounded rather like the sort of song they give the American Idol winner to perform.

Okay, so I said American Idol rather than X Factor, but hey, that's too close to be a coincidence, right? Mr Cowell, if you're reading this, I expect either payment for my services or to be credited as 'creative consultant' on series seven. (Or even better, let me replace Louis Walsh on the judging panel. G'wan. Please?)

(Here's a video from some TV show or other. You might have seen it already.)

Anyway, after the general public horror last year that the X Factor winner would get to cover a song so apparently sacred as Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah', it seems sensible that Simon would opt for a song this year that, while doubtless liked by many people, is unlikely to be quite so fiercely protected by its fans (now watch me get proved wrong when the Miley Massive stage a revolt, or something).

What I said about the song when I reviewed Miley's version still absolutely stands - it's one of those conveniently non-specific metaphors about going on a bit of a journey that someone can sing after winning a talent show and make a lot of people who watched the whole series go "aww, he did, y'know". It's not massively deep, but then it doesn't have to be.

As for the performance of Joe himself, it's pretty decent: he sings with a lovely clarity and is still young and green enough to be able to sing something like this with a level of sincerity that, say, Olly Murs probably would've struggled to pull off at the massively advanced age of 25 (which is practically pensionable for someone just starting out as a popstar).

The production on the whole thing does feel a bit rushed, though - just listen to the bit about one minute in where he sings "it's not about what's waiting on the other si-i-i-i-ide" and see if you don't think someone's been both a bit snip-happy with the editing scissors and unnecessarily heavy on the autotune - which is a shame, because his performances on the show never suggested to me he was going to need that much help sounding good on a recording. It sounds a little bit thin, as well - especially if you compare it to Alexandra's effort from last year, though you might argue she had a more epic song to begin with.

Beyond that, it's all business as usual - key change, choir, probably some kind of firework curtain going off every time he sings it, blah blah blah. There are few surprises here, but I doubt anyone was really expecting any. It delivers exactly what it promises, no more, no less: a bit of shiny, slightly hollow, feelgood pop to cap off another successful series of The X Factor. The big test's going to be what his first proper single sounds like in about nine months...

Three starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: December 16th
BBC Music page

(Steve Perkins)


  • Comment number 1.

    TBH, anything's better than the cover of Hallelujah.

  • Comment number 2.

    X-Factor have really shot themselves in the foot with this one, not only is it a song that isn't that good to start off with most of the people who will buy it probably already have 'the Miley Cyrus original'. Also the production is really bad - it sounded better live on X-Factor - and Joe seems to be struggling to hold the notes without doing that thing where he puts on the vibrato effect, which is strange because he actually sounded like a good singer on the show.

    Rage Against The Machine for No. 1 personally, not that I would have brought the X-Factor song anyway.

  • Comment number 3.

    Olly should have won! full stop.

  • Comment number 4.

    Two words: Leon Jackson.

    I'm off to buy Killing In The Name again.

  • Comment number 5.

    Curtains you have already bought it twice already !

  • Comment number 6.

    Regarding the next judge for next years X Factor , it is reported that Simon has a wish list of 3 possible candidates..

    1) Robbie Williams
    2) Mel B
    3) Kelly Rowland


  • Comment number 7.

    just boring really... i am entranced by telephone by lady gaga right now... its awesome, shes done it again

  • Comment number 8.

    am sick to death of people the knocking the 'system' while actively participating in it. In addition, the RGTM fans have shown themselves on many forums including facebook to be mean spirited and often offensive. However, my 22 daughter and my 19 year daughter (both massive Joe fans having seen him perform several times across the North East over the last few years) have told me to relax about them as RGTM fans have been angry for longer than Joe has been alive. Sensible advice. Joe's unique and passionate voice gives pleasure to many, and he seems far more mature than the many RGTM 'fans' who have nothing new to offer either in opinions or values. I wish Joe all the very best of luck. If you let the RGTM win then it is setting a preceident for every year - Go Joe - I will buy as many downloads as we in the recession hit North East can afford. We look after our own and don't bow to pressure from mindless morans telling us how to spend our hard earnt money. If I like something and can afford it, I will buy it. Simon Cowell doesn't dictate my spending. Go Joe - all the way to Number One!

  • Comment number 9.

    Personally I have nothing against Joe he seems like a nice lad and is actually one of the better people to come out of X Factor. My problem is that someone shouldn't just get a number one straight off the back of some talent show by doing an average cover of an average song, if Joe released this as his debut single having never gone on X Factor he wouldn't get anywhere.

    The campaign shouldn't be about spoiling Joe chances of success it should be about people showing that they're sick of the way the system is being manipulated by Simon Cowell and other business executives who actually don't know that much more about music than you or me. Also it's partly because it would be fun hearing Rage Against The Machine as christmas number 1.

    P.S - If Joe doesn't get number 1 who cares? Many artists would kill for thier debut single to reach number 2 at christmas.

  • Comment number 10.

    Mrs Miller - *shakes head in mixture of laughter and disbelief*

  • Comment number 11.


  • Comment number 12.

    Aha , the return of the Cat !

    The Muse , Radiohead , Jamie et al , loving guy from Devon .

    How was Muse at the DEN ?

    And more importantly , how goes the studies , and how are you ?

  • Comment number 13.

    And here we are , on the X Factor winners review ! Ha ha !

    "What's a nice guy like you , doing in a place like this ? "


  • Comment number 14.

    This song sounds like a 5 year old has produced it.

    Big fan of his though. He has a bright future ahead no matter what.

  • Comment number 15.

    Yeah , agreed , and extra marks for ending your post with Boyzone's biggest selling single !

  • Comment number 16.

    He can hit the notes but he lacks an interesting voice, or maybe has no interest in a cliched song.
    Do we think he's been fatally wounded by the No.2 & unlucky in the timing of the RATM campaign?
    I see his album under-performing & him being quietly dropped in time for the next big thing to be announced.
    Shame, as I have an ideal song written for him.

  • Comment number 17.

    Does it involve getting out of a preverbial closet?

  • Comment number 18.

    Hasn't I'm Coming Out already been done by the glorious Diana Ross ?

  • Comment number 19.

    Part of me , wanted the gorgeous Joe , to release his version of Journey's Don't stop believing as the winners song .

    He sang and performed this extremely well , and it connected with a lot of people , as he performrd it twice on the show , and it is an extremely popular song, with a great melody and tons of hooks .

    Would Joe be number 1 at this moment if that was his first single instead of The Climb ?

    We will never know...

    One thing is for sure , however . Too much syrup , treacle , key changes and predictability gives a lot of the record buying public Irritable Cowell Syndrome !

  • Comment number 20.

    What's going on? Spirit, Thranjax, Catman and Dannyboy all come back to the fold within two days of each other. Have you guys all been on holiday together or something? And where were the invites for me and Liam?


    Welcome back Cat - those two posts made it all worth it. A rare case of lol for me.

    I know nothing about this kid at all, and certainly have nothing against the kid or his aspirations to be a pop star. However, I nearly fell over laughing when I read what he said in The Sun, quoted on NME.com. Check this out - and remember, he's EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD:

    '"They can't be serious!" he said. "I had no idea what it sounded like. It's dreadful and I hate it. How could anyone enjoy this? Can you imagine the grandmas hearing this over Christmas lunch?

    "I wouldn't buy it. It's a nought out of ten from me. Simon Cowell wouldn't like it. They wouldn't get through to boot camp on The X Factor - they're just shouting."'


  • Comment number 21.

    Oh God he's not doing himself any favours there is he!?! I thought he was rising above it all and just wishing them luck. But for him to come out with such stupidity annoys me!! I mean, does he listen to Disney all his life?

    At 18 I dont expect him to appreciate Rage and all their brilliance, he was too young when they came out. However, so was I, yet I still know enough about them (and do listen on the odd occasion!) to not insult them like that.

    Where was the holiday guys!? I guess somebody had to stay behind and deal with the tide of Mika fan bois.

  • Comment number 22.

    Classic Curtains ! lol

    We left Liam to hold the fort , and you had the nerve to go to EGYPT , without telling anyone.

    I had to read about sordid extracts of your wild holiday in the tabloids !

    Wounded I WAS ! Wounded !

  • Comment number 23.

    I love the idea that everytime Curtains is annoyed about something he goes off to buy Killing in the Name Of again. I can just see him putting a load of washing in, starting the machine then realising he has left one sock out, a thunderous look coming over his face and then him stomping off to the computer to download it once more.

    I am sorry Curtains we did not take you on holiday with us, there was only room for four of us in the suitcase.

  • Comment number 24.

    Ha ha ! The return of comedy genius Jax !

    I remember the time Curtains meant to wash all his white underwear , but at the end of the hot wash , realised that he had put one solitary bright red sock in with his smalls..

    At the end of the wash , he took them out , and realised he had ten pairs of PINK underwear !!!!!

    He downloaded the Rage track 10 times after that !

  • Comment number 25.

    Haha I'm good, the den was amazing, wembley '10 will be better :)

    As for RGTM, I don't have a problem with all X factor fans, just ignorant ones

    RATM's epic victory signifies a revolution in my eyes - what with copenhagen, amongst other things, I reckon the teenies (oh I despise that phrase) could be as important and revolutionary for music as the 60s

    The times they are a changing

  • Comment number 26.

    Bunch of people buying Rage does not hail a music revolution.

    This year has been a virtual turn around/revolution for pop music. I expect this to continue well into next year. By pop music I mean good, artist driven and written, pop music. Not manufactured like Girls Aloud. I'm thinking more Lady Gaga, Mika, Little Boots and the like. Pop has dominated the charts this year and I expect it to dominate them next year.

    Yet I'm pretty sure Joe McElderry will have a number one album and single next year. The revolution may have to wait untill X Factor is off our screens..

  • Comment number 27.

    Part of the reason X Factor has such influence is it's the only big music prog on the telly.
    I don't see the rise of X-Fact coinciding with the death of TOTP as a coincidence.
    Where once people would have watched TOTP, and bought what they liked off it, now they do off X-Factor.
    So this whole rise of Cowell is the fault of Fearne, Reggie & Andi Peters for killing the last pop window on TV.
    That Reggie can't be trusted with big chart shows is maybe a sign BBC management believe this too.

  • Comment number 28.

    Some brilliant points from your discussions..

    a) The Rage factor encouraging more artist driven and written music .There is no doubt in my mind , that this one song and it's resultant effect , will cause ripples ! You watch.... ripples !

    b) Simon Cowell will up his game for the next X Factor song . and his admission that he took the number 1 for granted. All this battling , has given X factor even more publicity , and the main man is absolutely loving it too .He is a very clever man , and he will engineer this publicity in an advantageous way . Very , very shrewd our Simon , anyone read his interview in the NME last week ? Shrewd !

    c) The dearth of excellent music shows on the main channels , and the emergence and high viewing figures for X Factor. Surely NOT a coincidence , the country needs a prime time live music programme , where bands play and there is chat and interviews etc
    There is a huge window for this.

    All you guys are making great points ...

  • Comment number 29.

    RATM to make a new album for 2010. That would be great.

    Audioslave were poor, I thought. I was really looking forward to them when it all happened, but they were a major letdown. The tracks were ok, but Chris was no Zack.

  • Comment number 30.

    JOE MCELDERRY fans may want to borrow some of SANTAS sherry ! I predict JOE will have the NUMBER 1 single on sunday .


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