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Union J interviewed by students of Ullswater Community College in 2016
|Also known as|
|Past members||Casey Johnson|
Union J (originally Triple J) are an English boy band consisting of members JJ Hamblett and Jaymi Hensley. The band previously also included George Shelley, who left in 2016 and was replaced by Casey Johnson, who left several months later, and Josh Cuthbert, who left in 2018. The band formed in 2011, originally as a trio known as Triple J, consisting of Cuthbert, Hamblett and Hensley. They auditioned for the ninth series of the British television music competition The X Factor where they met Shelley who joined the band at the judges' request. They finished fourth and were subsequently signed to Sony Music subsidiary RCA Records. Their debut single "Carry You" was released in June 2013. Their self-titled debut studio album followed in October 2013 and peaked at number 6 on the UK Albums Chart.
Union J left RCA Records in April 2014 and signed with Epic Records. In the lead-up to the release of their second album You Got It All – The Album, the band released two singles: "Tonight (We Live Forever)" and "You Got It All". A new EP Who Would've Thought was released on 22 March 2019.
Formation and The X Factor (2011–12)
In 2007, Blair Dreelan of Alpha Dog Management met 14-year-old Josh Cuthbert, who was auditioning for the fourth series of The X Factor in front of judges Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne and Dannii Minogue. Cuthbert failed to progress to the bootcamp stage, but Dreelan believed that he looked like a pop star and was impressed by his voice: "I began to sort of work with him on various little projects like just sort of recording stuff because I've got a recording studio in Swindon." In 2011, Cuthbert and Jaymi Hensley met whilst studying performing arts at the Sylvia Young Theatre School in Westminster and later decided to put a band together. Former jockey Jamie "JJ" Hamblett was later added to the group by Dreelan, and they named themselves Triple J (due to each member sharing the same initial).
In May 2012, after eight months together, Triple J and soloist George Shelley both auditioned in London for the ninth series of The X Factor in front of judges Walsh, Gary Barlow, Tulisa and Nicole Scherzinger. Triple J performed Rihanna's international hit "We Found Love", whilst George covered an acoustic version of Britney Spears' "Toxic" – in which he also incorporated his guitar. Both acts progressed to the next stage of the competition, receiving positive critique from all judges present. Bootcamp saw Shelley perform Labrinth's "Earthquake", competing against female contestants; Charlie Cammish and Meg O'Neill. Triple J first sang Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger", before contending for the final place at judges' houses with GMD3 (later District3). They covered Chris Brown's "Yeah 3x", but were sent home after GMD3 were eventually chosen for judges' houses. However, following Rough Copy's forced withdrawal from the show, Dreelan was contacted by The X Factor producers with an offer for the group to return, on the basis that Shelley was added to the three-piece. All parties accepted the offer and the band – now a four-piece – became Union J and advanced to judges' houses alongside fellow recalled Times Red in the groups category, mentored by Walsh. The band's first performance as a four-piece was an acoustic cover of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe". Walsh put them through to the live shows alongside District3 and MK1, and they instantly proved popular with social media users.
In week 1 of the live shows, Union J performed Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now". Despite negative feedback from the other judges, they progressed through to the next week after placing fourth in voting statistics behind Christopher Maloney, Jahméne Douglas and Ella Henderson, respectively. In week 4, the group received the fewest public votes with Jade Ellis, but were saved by Barlow, Scherzinger and Walsh. They found themselves in the bottom two again in week 6, against District3, but were saved for a second time by Barlow and Scherzinger, with Walsh refusing to vote between his acts. Union J were in the bottom two for a third time in the quarter-final, where they were saved by Walsh, Barlow and Tulisa over Rylan Clark. They were eliminated in the semi-final on 2 December, finishing in fourth place. It was later reported that their winning single would have been a cover of Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper", which is featured on their debut album.
|Performances on The X Factor|
|Triple J||George Shelley|
|Auditions||"We Found Love"||"Toxic"||Free choice||Progressed to Bootcamp|
|Bootcamp (1)||"Moves Like Jagger"||"Earthquake"||Bootcamp challenge||Rebranded/progressed to judges' houses|
|Bootcamp (2)||"Sweet Child o' Mine"||N/A||Free choice|
|Judges' houses||"Call Me Maybe"||Progressed to live shows|
|Live show 1||"Don't Stop Me Now"||Heroes (songs inspired by the Olympic Games)||Safe (4th)|
|Live show 2||"Bleeding Love" / "Broken Strings"||Love and heartbreak||Safe (7th)|
|Live show 3||"When Love Takes Over"||Club classics||Safe (8th)|
|Live show 4||"Sweet Dreams"||Halloween||Bottom two (8th)|
|Live show 4 results||"Perfect"||Free choice||Safe (3/4 majority vote)|
|Live show 5||"Love Story"||Number-ones||Safe (4th)|
|Live show 6||"Fix You"||Best of British||Bottom two (6th)|
|Live show 6 results||"Set Fire to the Rain"||Free choice||Safe (2/3 majority vote)|
|Live show 7||"Call Me Maybe"||Guilty pleasures||Safe (4th)|
|Quarter-Final||"The Winner Takes It All"||ABBA||Bottom two (4th)|
|"I'll Be There"||Motown|
|Quarter-Final Results||"Run"||Free choice||Safe (3/4 majority vote)|
|Semi-Final||"Beneath Your Beautiful"||Free choice/someone special||Eliminated by public vote (4th)|
|"I'm Already There"||Free choice/songs to get you to the final|
Union J and Magazines + TV Screens Tour (2013)
Union J first announced that they had signed a record deal with Sony Music Entertainment at a performance in Cardiff, Wales on 15 December 2012. Their debut single "Carry You" was recorded in London in January 2013 and was released in June 2013, charting at number six in the United Kingdom. On 28 January, it was confirmed that the subsidiary label that Union J had signed with was RCA Records. In June 2013, it was announced that the band would embark on their first UK headline tour, the Magazines + TV Screens Tour, which consisted of 18 dates in December 2013 and January 2014. They also revealed that their debut album would be released on 28 October 2013.
Union J announced that their second single, "Beautiful Life", would be released on 21 October 2013, a week before their self-titled debut album, Union J. On 2 October 2013, the band revealed that they are partnering up with Pokémon for the UK release of X and Y. On 5 November 2013, they announced that their third single would be "Loving You Is Easy".
You Got It All – The Album (2014)
On 2 January 2014, while guest editing the Daily Star's Playlist column, Union J announced that they would release their second album in 2014. Jaymi said, "Very exciting, we're about to start recording our second studio album, which is massive. And then I think we're going to write on the album as well, work with some new producers." Josh also said that they hope to "find that lane that [they] want to go down." They also revealed that they felt there was pressure on them to match the huge success of One Direction, as Louis Walsh had expected them to have a number-one single. The band also revealed that they did write songs for their debut album which ultimately failed to make the final cut, but hoped to have more self-penned tracks on their second album. Hensley told Digital Spy, "We did write for [their first] album and we'd done about 14 songs but they didn't go on the album, maybe because they weren't right. The thing about writing is it's personal but also the more practice you get, the better you get."
On 5 April, Cuthbert announced via Twitter that Union J had left RCA and signed a new deal with Epic Records. The first single to be taken from the band's second album is "Tonight (We Live Forever)", which was released on 17 August 2014. Following its premiere on Capital FM on 18 June 2014, the single entered the iTunes Top 100 Chart through pre-order sales alone. Union J performed "Tonight (We Live Forever)" live for the first time at Capital FM's Summertime Ball. On 24 August, "Tonight" debuted at number 9 in the UK.
On 14 October, it was announced that the second single from their second album is entitled "You Got It All". Its first play was on 15 October on Capital FM. On 30 October, Union J that announced that their second album will be called You Got It All – The Album and was released on 8 December 2014. Despite promoting the album on The X Factor and The Xtra Factor, it entered at number 28 on the UK Albums Chart, selling 15,000 copies on its first week.
The Vamps Arena Tour, An Audience with Union J, Shelley's departure and third album (2015–2019)
Union J were the main support act on The Vamps' arena tour in the UK and Ireland in April and May 2015. They announced that they were doing An Audience with Union J in October and November, and also revealed that they are working on their third album.
Shelley left the group in March 2016; speaking exclusively to The Sun's Dan Wootton, Cuthbert blamed Shelley's departure on the latter's changing manner following his stint on I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!. Cuthbert said, "I would much rather have someone who wants to do it and is committed to do it. I’m not going to lose any sleep over him not being in the band." Hensley revealed that Shelley's departure was a mutual agreement between all four members and that there were no bad feelings or jealousy which led to it.
Union J recorded their third album in Los Angeles in May 2016. It was also announced that theywould be touring Butlins throughout the summer of 2016. In April 2017, Johnson left the band and the remaining members announced that they would continue as a trio.
In July 2018, Union J announced that they will be releasing their new single on the same month. In the same month, it was announced that the single is called "Alive" and will be released on 13 July 2018. They released a second single off their third album Dancing on 25 August. Cuthbert then quit the band in October, leaving Hamblett and Hensley as a duo. Cuthbert said told The Sun: "The music industry is really difficult. It plays with your emotions, it’s ups and downs and you go through different managers. Over the last few years we’ve had different managers and we’ve been promised the world and been let down. We've got a label now which are great and I respect them lots and have nothing but good words to say about them, but it is difficult when you change members. George obviously left, which was hard for us, but everyone has different reasons and has different things going on. Now that I’m making this decision myself I understand why George made that decision two years ago. At the time you don’t really get it, until you have the same feelings as him, which I now have. I spoke to them on the phone and I just hope that they support me, I want to stay friends with the boys, I love them."
Union J released their first single as a two-piece, "Paralysed", on 14 December 2018.
Products and endorsements
On 2 April 2013, it was announced that they had signed a bookdeal to publish an autobiography through Penguin Books and Michael Joseph, prior to the release of their album on 26 September 2013. The band commented, "We are very excited to be working with Penguin on our first book and are looking forward to the chance to tell our stories, of how we came together and where we came from, as well as the journey we've taken since X Factor." The autobiography, titled Our Story: Union J 100% Official, was released on 21 October 2013. They also released The Official Union J 2014 Annual.
Jamie Paul "JJ" Hamblett, born  is from Newmarket, Suffolk. He is the oldest member of the group and was one of the three original members of Triple J. He was a jockey until he was 21, riding in 270 races and winning 24 times. He has ridden for the Queen and met her. On 18 September 2013, Hamblett announced that he and his then girlfriend were expecting a child together, making both of them first-time parents. Hamblett's son was born shortly thereafter during November 2013.25 May 1988 ,
In August 2015, Hamblett announced the start of a new reality television project with his former girlfriend and mother of his child, by posting a sneak peek video on Facebook but the venture did not progress beyond initial promotions. Also at this time, Hamblett announced that he signed a contract with ThinkersPR Talent but this business relationship was discontinued.
James William "Jaymi" Hensley, born  is from Luton, Bedfordshire. He was one of the three original members of Triple J. Hensley has been in a relationship with Olly Marmon since 2009 and proposed to him in 2010. He went to a theatre school with Cuthbert. He has 17 tattoos. Before The X Factor, he did both ballet and gymnastics, but his career as a gymnast was cut off by a broken wrist, and he struggled with his weight when he was no longer exercising so much. In 2015, Hensley appeared with singer Sinitta on Pointless Celebrities, a celebrity edition of the BBC game show Pointless. Having made his panto debut in the lead role in Peter Pan at the White Rock Theatre (Hastings) in December 2016. Hensley was set to play the lead role in the Aladdin panto at the Derngate Theatre (Northampton) over December 2017. Hensley has been in a long-term relationship with Olly Marmon since 24 September 2009. They became engaged in 2014. Hensley and Marmon were originally due to get married in 2015, but postponed their wedding for a few years.24 February 1990 ,
In January 2019, Hensley appeared on the fourth series of Celebrity Coach Trip alongside JJ Hamblett. Hensley is now starring in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat as Joseph, Directed by Bill Kenwright at Theatre Royal Windsor
George Paul Shelley, born  in Clevedon, North Somerset was the youngest member of the group. His parents Dominic Shelley and Toni Harris are divorced, Dominic remarried. He has two brothers Tom, who lives in Australia, and Will, who did three tours with the marines in Afghanistan; a younger sister Harriet who died in April 2016 after being hit by a car, and two step-sisters Anabelle and Louisa along with four half-brothers Leo, Archie, Spencer and Roman. He attended Weston College in Weston-super-Mare from 2010 until 2011, where he completed a BTEC Extended Diploma in Graphic Design.27 July 1993 ,
Shelley auditioned for The X Factor as a solo artist singing "Toxic" in 2012 while he worked as a Barista in Costa Coffee and was eliminated during bootcamp, but they later called him back to join Triple J and form Union J.
In 2015, Shelley appeared as one of the thirteen contestants on the fifteenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! On 4 March 2016, it was announced Shelley left Union J to pursue other career endeavours.
Casey Johnson, born Stereo Kicks. The band released one single, "Love Me So", and a month later they split as they could not afford to continue without a record deal.1 May 1995 , was the most recent member of Union J. Johnson auditioned for the X Factor in 2014 and became a member of eight-piece band
Joshua Thomas John "Josh" Lloyd-Cuthbert, born  is from Ascot, Berkshire. He attended Charters School in Berkshire and The Sixth Form College Farnborough. He was one of the three original members of Triple J. Before The X Factor, he worked in an office and starred in the West End musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when he was 14. In 2009, he was invited to join The Wanted, but was unable to do so because of a two-year contract with another band, Replay.28 July 1992 ,
Cuthbert also used to be a footballer, playing as a goalkeeper, but had to quit after damaging his thumb in a shooting accident. Cuthbert said, "I played football from a young age. Playing in goal meant I broke every single finger but one day I was shooting an air rifle with my grandad and the gun was faulty. My thumb got trapped and I ended up losing half of it. And obviously being a goalie your thumb is an integral part."
Cuthbert was in a relationship with model Chloe Lloyd since November 2014 On 14 November 2015, Cuthbert proposed to Lloyd on a gondola ride in Venice. On 9 August 2018, Cuthbert married Lloyd at a private wedding at Aynhoe Park.
On 7 February 2015, Cuthbert signed a modelling contract with modeling agency Two Management. On 11 May 2015, it was announced that he had signed a modelling contract with modeling agency Storm Model Management in London. On 16 June 2015, Josh announced that he signed a contract with Red Model Management. In 2016, he signed a contract with Select Model Management in London.
The group also performed at multiple festivals in UK and Ireland and on OMG Spring Break Portugal.
Awards and nominations
|2013||Popdust||Union J||Next Pop Superstar of 2013||Third|
|BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards||Best British Breakthrough||Won|
|2014||Best of 2013 Awards||Best Boyband of 2013||Fourth|
|Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards||UK Favourite Band||Nominated|
|World Music Awards||World's Best Group||Nominated|
|World's Best Live Act|
|"Beautiful Life"||World's Best Song|
|World's Best Video|
- The Official Union J 2014 Annual ISBN 978-0141349497
- Our Story: Union J 100% Official ISBN 978-0718178666
- "Union J A-Z'" https://www.amazon.co.uk/Union-J-A-Z-Sophie-H-ebook/dp/B00EBUWEF4
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