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JLS in Chicago, April 2010.
Background information
GenresR&B, pop, dance-pop
Years active2006–present
LabelsEpic (2009–present)
Oritsé Williams
Marvin Humes
J.B. Gill
Aston Merrygold
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JLS in Chicago, April 2010.
Background information
GenresR&B, pop, dance-pop
Years active2006–present
LabelsEpic (2009–present)
Oritsé Williams
Marvin Humes
J.B. Gill
Aston Merrygold

JLS (an initialism of Jack the Lad Swing) are an English boy band consisting of members Aston Merrygold, Oritsé Williams, J.B. Gill and Marvin Humes. They originally signed to Tracklacers production company New Track City and then went on to become runners-up of the fifth series of ITV reality talent show The X Factor in 2008, coming second to Alexandra Burke.

Following their appearance on The X Factor, JLS signed to Epic Records.[1] Their first two singles "Beat Again" and "Everybody in Love" both went to number one on the UK Singles Chart.[2][3] The band's self-titled debut album was released on 9 November 2009,[4] and has since sold over one million copies in the UK. JLS won the awards for British Breakthrough and British Single ("Beat Again") at the 2010 BRIT Awards. They also won several awards at the Mobo awards for Best song for "Beat Again" in 2009 and also Best Newcomer in the same year. In 2010 they won the MOBO Awards for Best UK act and Best Album.

In 2010, JLS signed an American record deal with Jive Records, and released "Everybody in Love" as their debut U.S. single, but it failed to chart.[5] "The Club Is Alive", the lead single from their second studio album, was released in the UK in July 2010,[6] and earned the band their third number-one on the UK Singles Chart.[7] Their single "Love You More", the official single for Children in Need in 2010, was the group's fourth UK number-one. Their single "She Makes Me Wanna" featuring Dev was their fifth UK number one. JLS have sold more than 3 million records worldwide.[8]


Music career

2006–2008: Formation as UFO

Oritsé Williams decided to get into the music business mainly because his mother has Multiple sclerosis and he wants to raise money to help find a cure. He was originally scouted for a number of boybands but Williams did not feel they were right and believed that a group should have a "real" connection with each other, like his heroes Boyz II Men. He decided to form his own boyband and, through friends, met Marvin Humes who had experience in R&B and pop music, being a part of VS in 2004. Next to join was Aston Merrygold, who was once cast in the ITV programme Fun Song Factory, because of his athletic ability.[9] Last to join the group was J.B. Gill, for his "musical ear" and harmonies. They bonded, became friends and together they were called UFO (Unique Famous Outrageous). While working their way into the music business UFO instantly signed to production/songwriting duo Tracklacers via their production company New Track City. In late 2007, UFO won their first award at the Urban Music Awards for Best Unsigned Act thanks to their mash-up of "Stand by Me" by Ben E. King and "Beautiful Girls" by Sean Kingston. Shortly thereafter, they released their second single, "Slap Ya Elbow".[10] UFO and Tracklacers embarked on a journey ultimately leading to the next chapter. The group give credit to 'DJ Triz' who produced one of UFO's first songs and helped them write it.

2008: The X Factor and new name

UFO auditioned for the fifth series of The X Factor in 2008, but they had to change their name because it was already being used. They decided to go with the name JLS (Jack the Lad Swing), a style created with Tracklacers some months back, combining the phrase "Jack the lad" and the urban music of New Jack Swing. Following the elimination of vocal groups Bad Lashes and Girlband in weeks one and two respectively, JLS were Louis Walsh's last remaining act in the competition, but throughout the live shows the judges called them the best band ever to come out of The X Factor. In week 7, JLS were in the bottom two along with Rachel Hylton. However, they survived thanks to votes from Walsh, Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell. Cowell stated when casting his deciding vote that JLS did not deserve to be in the bottom two.[11] In week 8, JLS performed "...Baby One More Time" and received negative comments from two of the four judges, with Cowell saying "at the moment you're out", but after their second performance, "You Light Up My Life", Cowell commented that they were "back in the race" and that they could "have a hit record" with the performance.[12]

In week 9, JLS performed "Umbrella" and "I'm Already There". Cowell then predicted they would win the competition.[13] They made it to the final and performed their own version of the winner's song, "Hallelujah", which the other finalist Alexandra Burke also performed. The public voted for the second time that night and Burke won the competition, JLS coming second. They were the fourth band to make the final. Following their success on The X Factor, Cowell's record company, Syco, announced that they were to sign JLS with an advance payment of £75,000.[14] The Sun later reported on 20 January 2009 that Cowell had revoked this offer, having instead decided to focus on Alexandra Burke.[15][16] JLS's manager thought the band would be well suited to Epic Records, with whom they signed a record contract in January 2009.[16]

2009–2010: JLS

As soon as the contract was signed, Epic A&Rs Nick Raphael and Jo Charrington began album preparation by contacting the pop songwriters and producers who they thought to be the best in the industry. These included Steve Mac, Wayne Hector, J.R. Rotem and DEEKAY.[16] When they went to see Mac he played them "Beat Again", a song he had written with Hector, and the pair enthusiastically agreed that it was perfect for JLS. Charrington said: "Once you've got that special song everything else seems to fall into place."[16] The song was released as the debut single in July, only six months after the band had signed with the label. It reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart on 19 July 2009.[2] On 9 November 2009 JLS released their eponymously titled debut album, JLS.[17] The album debuted at No. 1 on the UK Album Chart, selling over 1 million copies and named the sixth best selling album in the UK during 2009, only being released for 8 weeks before the list was compiled. Their second single "Everybody in Love", released on 2 November 2009,[17] also topped the UK Singles Chart.[3] Their third single One Shot, peaked at number six despite a physical release, however it did stay in the charts for a number of weeks despite the drop. Due to the success of their album, the group went on their first headline tour, with twenty-five dates around the UK and Ireland. The group also became the first The X Factor contestants to win a BRIT Award in 2010, winning the British Breakthrough and Best British Single for "Beat Again". Jay-Z has stated that they will become as big as N*SYNC.[18]

In the beginning of 2010, a bidding war was underway between (U.S.-based) Epic Records and Jive Records to sign JLS to an American deal.[19][20] The group settled with Jive Records, while continuing to remain with their native signing on Sony Music UK's Epic Records. As of August 2010 the album has sold over 1.2 million copies and has veeb certified 4x Platinum in the UK. The album was released as a six-track EP in the United States, featuring tracks "Beat Again", "Everybody in Love", "One Shot", "Only Tonight" and "Close to You" from the UK edition of the album, along with "The Club Is Alive" from the second UK album. It was released on 3 August 2010 and JLS also won two awards at the BT Digital Music Awards 2010 winning Best Group and Best Video for "Everybody in Love" .

2010–11: Outta This World

In an interview with HitQuarters recorded in March, producer-songwriter Steve Mac said he was currently at work writing for the second JLS album,[21] Another album contributor, Lucas Secon, said that the style of songs he worked on for the album were "a little more acoustic", prefiguring what he sees as a pop music trend shift from synthetic sounds to a more live approach.[22] Songwriter-producer Chris Braide confirmed in August that he had just written and produced two tracks for the album.[23] Braide said that he composed "skeleton" versions of the songs by himself, and then two members of JLS then came in to his London studio to help complete them.[23] One song was written and recorded within the space of a day.[23]

"The Club Is Alive" was announced as the lead single in April and released on 4 July 2010.[24] The group promoted the single on Britain's Got Talent and GMTV. The single debuted at number one, becoming the group's third UK number one single.[25] Then reports suggested that a second single, "Ay Mama", was to be released in United States on 14 September 2010 and was set to feature Barbadian singer-songwriter Shontelle.[26] However the group told Digital Spy that although a song had been recorded with Shontelle, it was never confirmed for the album.[27] On 16 September 2010 the group unveiled the second single, "Love You More" and was a BBC Children In Need single. It was their 4th UK number-one.[28][29] The group wrote the song with Toby Gad and Wayne Hector.[27] Outta This World was released on 22 November 2010[30] and debuted at number 2 on the UK Albums Chart selling 152,000 copies, being held off the number 1 spot by the second week sales of Take That's record breaking Progress album.[31] The album's third single "Eyes Wide Shut" was remixed to feature Tinie Tempah, and has so far reached number eight on the UK Singles Chart. Alongside promoting the single, the group confirmed to The Sun newspaper that they were already beginning the ground work for their third studio album.[32] Merrygold also revealed that the group had teamed up with Bruno Mars for songs on the album, and had spoken about the possibility of working with Usher or Rihanna.[33] JLS are also set to play a series of Summer shows with X Factor series 6 contestant Olly Murs.[32] On 7 January 2011 the album was certified double platinum by BPI, representing sales of over 600,000 in the UK.

2011–2012: Jukebox

JLS began working on their third album, Jukebox in March 2011.[34] In May 2011 it was confirmed that the first single will feature American singer-songwriter Dev, and is titled "She Makes Me Wanna".[35] The song was produced by BeatGeek, Jimmy Joker, Teddy Sky, who are part of RedOne's production company, after the group bid £30,000 for a recording session with the producer at Alicia Keys' Black Charity Ball in 2010.[35] It was serviced to radio stations on 25 May 2011, while it was released for digital download on 24 July 2011. The album was released on 14 November 2011,[36] and the band will embark on another UK arena tour in support of the album in March and April 2012. On 15 September, JLS announced that "Take a Chance on Me" would be their second single from their album Jukebox. It was released on 4 November 2011, and charted at number two on the UK Singles Chart. The song was written by Emile Ghantous, Frankie Bautista, Nasri Atweh, and Nick Turpin.[37] The band's third single "Do You Feel What I Feel?" was released on 1 January 2012 and became their lowest charting single to date, peaking at number sixteen. The album charted at number 2 on the UK Album Charts, making it the second consecutive album to miss the number 1 spot, and entered the Irish Album Charts at number 5.

In 2012, JLS recorded the official Sport Relief charity single, "Proud". It was released on 18 March 2012.[38] The song was co-written with Daniel Davidsen, Jason Gill, Cutfather and Ali Tennant, who also worked on the Jukebox album.[39]

JLS were among the performers at the Diamond Jubilee concert held outside Buckingham Palace on 4 June 2012. On 7 June 2012, they performed at the Royal Albert Hall for the Rays of Sunshine concert, which grants wishes for seriously ill youngsters in the UK aged 3–18 years old.[40] On 8 June 2012, they were announced to perform at the iTunes Festival 2012, along with The X Factor alumni Olly Murs, One Direction and Rebecca Ferguson.[41]

2012-present: Evolution

On 21 August 2012, JLS began filming a music video for "Hottest Girl in the World", which will serve as the lead single for their fourth album.[42][43] On 25 August, the band announced that their upcoming fourth album would be called Evolution. The album will be released on 5 November.[44] On the direction of the album Merrygold said; "We didn't go by any kind of guidelines or anything like that, we just made what felt right and we're really excited about it." The band also confirmed that a Deluxe version of the LP will be available that will feature bonus and unreleased tracks.[45] On 6 September, they premiered the lead single, "Hottest Girl in the World", on BBC Radio 1.[46] The single will be released on 21 October 2012.

Other ventures

Television appearances

As well as appearing on numerous TV programmes for promotion of their albums/singles, JLS have had two special TV shows of their own broadcast. The first was an hour long documentary for ITV2, titled JLS Revealed, which first aired on 7 November 2009. The documentary followed them in the year after they had finished second in The X Factor, capturing them as they toured with Lemar, released their singles and attended the MOBO Awards amongst other highlights. The second show was an hour long entertainment show for ITV1 titled This Is JLS, which first aired on 11 December 2010 before the first show of that year's X Factor final. Filmed before a live studio audience, the band performed all of their hits, tracks from the Outta This World album and a special duet with Kylie Minogue on her hit song "All the Lovers", as well as partaking in surprise hidden camera stunts for lucky fans who had been invited to be in the audience for the show.

The group have also released their own documentary film titled JLS: Eyes Wide Open 3D, making them the first British music act ever to release a 3D film. Filmed at London's O2 Arena during the tour for their second album Outta This World in December 2010/January 2011, and incorporated with documentary footage shot by Ben Winston and Andy Morahan, it was shown exclusively for three days only from 3 June 2011 in over 300 UK cinemas. Due to many cinemas selling out tickets for the initial weekend, additional screenings were made in cinemas for the following weekend from 10 June 2011, thus, more tickets were available to buy online or on the day of screening. It opened at No. 5 in the UK Box Office chart, raking in £463,914 from the 3 June weekend screenings alone. A UK DVD release of the film is scheduled for 5 December 2011.

Products and endorsements

They have also had two best-selling books published, with both featuring photography from the renowned fashion photographer Dean Freeman. The first, Our Story So Far, was published through HarperCollins in September 2009, and went on to become a Sunday Times best-seller. The second, entitled Just Between Us: Our Private Diary, was also published through HarperCollins in September 2010, and was again a best-seller in the run up to Christmas that year.

In addition to the usual merchandising of calendars, posters etc., JLS have also released branded condoms with Durex under the campaign line "Just Love Safe", as part of a charitable organisation they have established called the JLS Foundation, where they are working together with sexual health charities such as Brook to raise awareness of practising safe sex and family planning. The initiative was launched at a press conference in September 2010. Individually, the band have also become patrons for different charities, namely Beatbullying (Merrygold), Childline (Humes), Rays of Sunshine Children's Charity (Gill) and National MS Society (Williams). Williams was awarded by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain with the "Inspiration Award" in April 2010 for his work for the charity.

In January 2011 it was announced that they and Alexandra Burke have worked together to create brand new fashion line, 2KX. Burke and JLS stated, "We are eagerly waiting for the first stocks of the ultra-hyped mens' and womenswear range, due very soon."[47] To coincide with the launch of their 3rd album "Jukebox", they will feature in their very own edition of 'TheirMag', a newly formed sister publication to Rio Ferdinand's "#5" magazine.


Oritsé Williams

Pronounced "Oreeshay". Williams was born on 27 November 1986. He has two brothers and one sister. When we was 12, his mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.[citation needed] He had to care for his brothers and sister whilst attending schools and clubs. He attended the British International School Lagos Nigeria where he was head boy for two years and graduated in 2004. Here he befriended English/Nigerian singer L Marshall (who also attended the school in Lagos) and won his first talent show performing alongside L in his final year. He also attended Larmenier Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School and Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School.[citation needed] Williams dreamed of being a solo artist since a very young age. He was recruited for many boybands but believed that a good boyband had to have a good bond between the members. He decided to put together his own boy band, UFO (apparently there was a band already with that name), who later changed their name to JLS. He also wrote the song "Wow Oh Wow" for Jedward.

Marvin Humes

Marvin Richard James Humes was born 18 March 1985 in Greenwich, London. Humes was previously a member of another band called VS, created by Blue member Simon Webbe. Humes started his music career in a band called VS. but they split shortly after releasing an album. After meeting future fellow band member Aston Merrygold, Humes joined UFO. Humes appeared in Holby City on the BBC for three years from 2000 to 2003, playing Robbie Waring for 14 episodes.[48] At the age of 14 he starred in a children's programme called K-Club, which helped people with computers and how they work.

J.B. Gill

JB performing on tour.

Jonathan Benjamin "J.B." Gill (born 7 December 1986) to Cynthia and Keith. He has one brother called Neequaye. Gill spent the first five years of his life living in Antigua, discovering his musical talent at a very early age. After completing his exams at university, he decided to audition for The X Factor in 2007. It was at this point that he came into contact with the other members of JLS. Gill grew up, mostly, in Croydon and began making music at the age of seven when he played the recorder, piano, flute and guitar. At the age of nine, he joined the choir and went onto perform at the local church. Gill concentrated on his music and began studying at The Centre for Young Musicians (CYM).[49] After leaving the CYM, Gill stayed involved with the school music scene. He played Mercado in the play Mercado and was involved with the choir at school. He continued this until he was 15 but had to give it up due to the pressures from the school to concentrate on his rugby career; he was involved with London Irish rugby club until he was 18.[50] Gill eventually decided that he wanted to sing rather than play rugby and took up vocal coaching during a year out before attending university. During this period, Gill was contacted by Oritse to try out for the band because of his musical ear and attention to harmonies. He studied theology at Kings College in London, staying in their halls in Russell Square, before dropping out to pursue a music career.[50]

Aston Merrygold

Aston Merrygold (born 13 February 1988) was born to a Jamaican father and an Anglo-Irish mother. He is one of seven children; he has five brothers and one sister. He was born and raised in Peterborough, where he attended Jack Hunt School.[51] In 2002, he entered Stars in Their Eyes where he appeared as Michael Jackson, singing "Rockin' Robin" and finished in second place. He came in second yet again with JLS on The X Factor at age 20. Aston performed in school productions and, after leaving school in 2004, was cast in a new ITV programme, Fun Song Factory alongside children's TV presenter Laura Hamilton. In the show, Merrygold played the character "Cookie"[9] Whilst still attending secondary school, he played football on behalf of England in the European Youth Games.[citation needed] His initial aspiration was to play football professionally. However, after developing a nerve problem in his left foot, he tried singing and acting instead. Through acting, he met Marvin Humes. As a result, he received a call from Oritse Williams (an acquaintance of Humes) about joining a boy band.[citation needed]

Awards and nominations

YearCeremonyCategoryNominated workResultRef
2007Urban Music AwardsBest Unsigned ActWon[52]
20092009 BRIT AwardsBest British Single"Hero" (with The X Factor finalists)Nominated[53]
MOBO AwardsBest UK NewcomerWon[54]
Best Song"Beat Again"Won[55]
BBC Switch Live AwardsSwitch's Outstanding ArtistWon[56]
Prom KingAston MerrygoldNominated[56]
Virgin Media Music AwardsBest GroupNominated[57]
Best NewcomerNominated[58]
Best Track"Beat Again"Nominated[59]
Hottest MaleAston MerrygoldNominated
20102010 BRIT AwardsBritish GroupNominated
British BreakthroughWon[60]
British Single"Beat Again"Won
Shockwave NME AwardsWorst BandNominated[61]
BT Digital Music AwardsBest GroupWon[62]
Best Video"Everybody In Love"Won[62]
MOBO AwardsBest UK ActWon[63]
Best AlbumWon[64]
Urban Music AwardsBest R&B ActWon[65]
Best GroupWon[65]
2011BT Digital Music AwardsBest GroupWon[62]
Best Video"Eyes Wide Shut"Won[62]
Best Fansite"Eyes Wide Shut"Nominated[62]




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  47. ^ JLS & Alexandra Burke launch 2KX the exciting new range of Mens & Womens underwear coming soon to @ USC
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  50. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named sun; see the help page.
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  62. ^ a b c d e 2 DMA Awards! | News|JLS (United Kingdom)
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  64. ^ BEST ALBUM | MODO Awards
  65. ^ a b Urban Music Awards 2006

External links