Able to sway judges Simon Cowell, Dannii Minogue, and Cheryl Cole with his versions of Michael Jackson’s "You Are Not Alone" and Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb,” singer Joe McElderry launched his career as the sixth season winner of the British television singing competition The X-Factor. Born in South Shields, England in 1991, McElderry first auditioned in 2007 for the fourth season of the show, but left after qualifying for the early “boot camp round”. Feeling he had grown into a more experienced singer, he returned in 2009 with a moving version of Luther Vandross’ “Dance with My Father,” and once again landed a spot in the competition. After ten weeks of performing everything from Dean Martin’s “Sway” to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and taking lead on the show’s charity single “You Are Not Alone,” he beat out runner-up Olly Murs with his version of “The Climb.” The song would go on to be McElderry’s debut solo single and a contender for 2009's U.K. Christmas number one, a spot which had been held by an X-Factor finalist for the previous four years. It had less to do with McElderry himself, and more to do with the show’s seemingly unchallenged domination of the coveted sales achievement, but an Internet campaign to prevent the X-Factor winner from topping the charts would be fueled by social networking sites. In the end, “The Climb” placed second with Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 cut “Killing in the Name” coming out on top, foul language and all. With McElderry’s track topping the Irish charts on Christmas and becoming the British number one a week later, it was a loss the singer could easily take in stride.
Some ten months after his chart battle with Rage Against the Machine, McElderry released his debut album, 2010’s Wide Awake. Receiving mixed reviews from the press, the album however went on to reach the top ten of the UK album chart. In April 2011, McElderry’s contract with Simon Cowell’s Syco label ended and in the June of the same year he became a contestant on the ITV television show Popstar to Operastar, eventually going on to win the show. Signing to Decca, McElderry released his second album, Classic, in August 2011. A collection of easy listening and classical standards, the album’s success saw McElderry release a quick follow-up, Classic Christmas, just a few months later. His fourth album, Here’s What I Believe, came in September 2012, a collection of original material and covers, the album would see McElderry collaborating with Ludovico Einaudi and Marcella Detroit.~ David Jeffries & Richard Wilson