Ever heard of Union J? If you are not a resident of the UK, the answer is probably ‘no’, but don’t worry, you will have soon. Since coming fourth in the 2012 UK version of The X Factor, the boyband, made up of Josh, JJ, Jaymi and George have been nurturing their fan-base and sound in the aim of emulating the international success of fellow British boyband, One Direction, who have enjoyed an almost stratospheric rise since their own turn on The X Factor back in 2010. Is there room for yet another boyband in the charts? With the band about to release their self-titled debut album, we are about to find out.
Union J hit the ground running with their debut single Carry You, a top notch pop song which hit number 6 in the UK charts, before following it up with their second single, Beautiful Life which, whilst not being as strong a single as its predecessor, builds into the expected big pop chorus. The album varies somewhat with the pop-rap chorus of Head In The Clouds, the group managing to sound more like ’90’s UK boyband 5ive than the dance-pop found in the rest of the album, however Union J are back on form with songs such as Save The Last Dance, taking stock from the music of The Wanted (of Glad You Came fame). Things take a more delicate path with the rousing ballad Amaze Me, with the group declaring their love to an unnamed, universal muse in a manner that will no doubt make many a young girl weep, as will their rendition of Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper which, whilst it does not replicate the aching, heartbroken vocals of Lovato herself, would have made a fitting winner’s single for the band, had they won The X Factor 2012.
Vocally, the group harmonise impressively, with lead singer Jaymi Hensley doing a great job at holding it all together, however there are times when singing individually that voices and notes may seem a little strained, especially in the falsetto of Loving You Is Easy, which is a shame as the song has potential to be a big club hit with its stomping beat and sugary synths. Some lyrics are also a bit questionable, namely the rather cringe inducing ‘I’ll play you like an instrument, let me be your Beethoven’ courtesy of Beethoven.
By the time Union J has finished you realise Union J are onto something special. With a more dance orientated sound similar to that of yet another Brit boyband The Wanted, but with the youthful accessibility of One Direction, Union J appear to have honed in on their own little niche in regards to sound, which is a testament to both the management and the group themselves in a tween market currently so over-saturated in boybands, girlbands, and pop-starlets. Whilst it is by no means perfect, it is a great start for the band with some strong singles in the batch that youngsters will no doubt love, and – despite going almost head to head with One Direction’s new album Midnight Memories – with Union J the band offer a slight alternate that will no doubt please their fans and win them new fans in the process.
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