Artist Spotlight: JLS
October 20, 2023
It’s been fifteen years since we first met Aston Merrygold, Oritsé Williams, Marvin Humes, and JB Gill auditioning for The X Factor. In the time since they’ve released five albums, won two Brit Awards, five MOBOs, disbanded and reunited again! This October they kick off a huge run of dates at arenas around the UK, so to celebrate, we’re shining our artist spotlight on JLS!
One of the UK’s most beloved boybands, JLS formed from a place of hope. When he was twelve, Oritsé’s mother was diagnosed with MS. At the time, one of his brothers was studying to be a scientist, determined to discover a cure for the disease. Wanting to help, Oritsé decided he would raise money in support, by establishing a career for himself in music.
After several rounds of auditions he finally found the right collaborators to partner with. Aston was a former child actor while Marvin had previously been part of RnB pop-group VS. JB was brought in for his sheer musical talent and together they formed UFO, an acronym for Unique Famous Outrageous. Together, the group worked hard to persevere, developing an idiosyncratic sound they called ‘jack the lad swing.’
In 2008 they auditioned for the fifth series of The X Factor, successfully landing themselves a place under Louis Walsh’s guidance. However, an English rock band from the 1960s had already taken the name UFO, so incorporating their own branded sound, the quartet renamed themselves JLS.
JLS came second to Alexandra Burke, but left the show as household names. Their instant debut single Beat Again, released in the summer of 2009, went straight to number one in the UK. Their follow up single, the anthemic Everybody in Love, was released later that year just a week before their debut self-titled album. Both releases debuted at number one on UK charts.
A few months later, JLS became the first contestants from The X Factor to win a Brit Award, taking home both British Breakthrough and Best British Single for Beat Again. Even Jay-Z was impressed, predicting the group would become as big as *NSYNC!
Hot on the heels of their success, JLS shared stadium banger The Club is Alive in the summer of 2010. Unsurprisingly, it went straight to number one on the Official Singles Chart. Their fourth number one followed in the autumn, Love You More, which was also the official song for that year’s Children in Need campaign. The group released their second album Outta This World shortly after.
Across their career, JLS have had a total of five UK number one singles. Reaching number one in the summer of 2011, She Makes Me Wanna was taken from the band’s third album Jukebox. JLS worked on the track with writers and producers from frequent Lady Gaga collaborator RedOne’s production company after successfully bidding £30,000 for the recording session at Alicia Keys’ Black Charity Ball the previous year. It also features the vocals of American artist Dev.
That same summer, JLS released the 3D concert film Eyes Wide Open into cinemas nationwide. Recorded on their Outta This World Tour at London’s O2 Arena, the cinematic release had to be extended twice due to demand, at the time making it the most popular concert movie in UK history.
In April 2013 JLS announced that they would be splitting up. They released Goodbye – The Greatest Hits that November to coincide with a farewell UK arena tour, playing their final show at London’s O2 Arena on 22 December 2013.
After disbanding, the group went their separate ways. Oritsé pursued a solo career and his first single in 2015 was a collaboration with Pusha T. Aston also continued to make music, pausing to compete on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017. Marvin turned to presenting, hosting shows like The Voice UK and The Hit List alongside his wife Rochelle, while JB bought some land in Scotland and began work as a farmer.
However, they couldn’t stay apart for long! In 2019 JLS surprised fans by announcing that they were reforming, working on a new record and hitting the road for their Beat Again Tour. They released their fifth album 2.0 in 2021.
JLS are triumphantly back playing shows this October and November and we can’t wait to relive all the hits, tricks and incredible dance moves as Aston, Oritsé, Marvin and JB guarantee the arena is alive!
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