It’s official: JLS are – to use the Smash Hits term – BACK! BACK! BACK!
Following on – we would like to think – from our retrospective piece we did for the 10th anniversary of their debut album last November, Oritsé, Aston, Marvin and JB finally settled months of speculation last week, and announced details of their new arena tour in the UK and Ireland for the end of this year, via a stunning comeback performance on The One Show last Friday.
As we write this, the initial run of the tour has sold out in record time (we secured our London O2 ticket for December yesterday morning), meaning that more dates have been added to meet demand, proving that the love for The X Factor’s first ever boyband to win two Brit Awards and score five UK number ones has remained quite undiminished in the seven years they’ve been away.
So to celebrate, and as a nice little follow on from our previous blog, we thought we’d take a look back at all thirteen singles in their back catalogue to date, and give you our defintive ranking of them thus…
13. BILLION LIGHTS
Released: 17th November 2013 / Highest UK chart position: #19
Now don’t get us wrong. We’re all for pop bands going out as they came in – with a bang. Not everything has to be a blubathon like say, S Club 7’s ‘Say Goodbye’ was. But somehow ‘Billion Lights’ fell a bit flat when the lads released it as their last ever single before their 2013 split. The montage of all their career highlights in the video was a nice touch, but really when the video’s more to speak of than the song there’s an issue.
12. DO YOU FEEL WHAT I FEEL?
Released: 1st January 2012 / Highest UK chart position: #16
The third single off their ‘Jukebox’ album, ‘Do You Feel What I Feel?’ was – as the name implies – an electro R&B banger centred around a sample of Bing Crosby’s festive classic ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ Whilst this tactic served them well before – as we’ll discuss later – and came with a brilliant dance routine from their long time choreographer Leon Petit, the bizarre decision to release this after Christmas was probably what caused it to be their first single to miss the UK top 10. It did however win them their fifth MOBO award for ‘Best Video’ at the 2012 ceremony, so small mercies.
Released: 16th March 2012 / Highest UK chart position: #6
Released to raise money for the bi-annual Sport Relief telethon on the BBC, and unavailable on any of their four studio albums, rousing ballad ‘Proud’ (not a cover of the Heather Small song of the same name) peaked at #6, and was also briefly touted at one point to be an official song for that year’s Olympic games that were hosted in London – hence the appearance of Team GB athletes Louis Smith, Philip Idowu and Rebecca Adlington in the video shot at Wembley Stadium.
10. HOLD ME DOWN
Released: 24th December 2012 / Highest UK chart position: #112
Ask most hardcore JLS fans what their best album is, and their fourth, ‘Evolution’, will feature somewhere highly up there. Alas, a change in A&R at their record label and disputes surrounding this at the time of recording and release saw to it that it was poorly promoted and thus the least successful of their career – evidenced by the fact that this stunning fan favourite and second single, produced by the legendary Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins, failed to even make the top 40.
9. TAKE A CHANCE ON ME
Released: 6th November 2011 / Highest UK chart position: #2
Held off the top spot by Rihanna and Calvin Harris’ megahit ‘We Found Love’, ‘Take A Chance On Me’ is one of those songs that we always feel like listening to once the colder months arrive – probably helped in part by the suitably wintry video, as the guys sing against a London nighttime backdrop in a variety of sherpa fleece jackets and cable knit beanies that we still love today.
8. HOTTEST GIRL IN THE WORLD
Released: 21st October 2012 / Highest UK chart position: #6
A far better single than its chart position belies, ‘Hottest Girl In The World’ was the lead single from ‘Evolution’, and was a welcome diversion into a harder, more grown-up R&B sound. It’s stripped back, percussive style – worked on with hip-hop titan Bangladesh – had a raw energy to it, that even now makes this one of their most engaging singles.
7. THE CLUB IS ALIVE
Released: 4th July 2010 / Highest UK chart position: #1
In the decade since this became their third chart topper, ‘The Club Is Alive’ seems to have gained an unfair reputation as being the black sheep of the JLS singles family – Marvin and JB even went on record stating their retrospective dislike of it. A lot of the criticism seems to stem towards it’s sample of popular musical The Sound of Music and it’s heavy use of vocoder effects on this uptempo club pop banger.
But to dismiss it for these things is a bit like saying hummus tastes too much of chickpeas. It’s meant to be a fun, slightly bonkers banger because that’s what it is. And once you come to realise that, far from being the unlistenable blot on the copybook, you’ll find it’s a total ruddy hoot. We love the Entourage inspired video too.
6. SHE MAKES ME WANNA
Released: 25th July 2011 / Highest UK chart position: #1
The result of paying out £15,000 in a charity auction at Alicia Keys’ Black Tie Ball some 18 months previously, ‘She Makes Me Wanna’ was JLS’ first – and to date only – collaboration with super producer RedOne, as well as being a duet with Dev (of ‘Bass Down Low’ fame).
Notable for their pronunciation of the word ‘Africa’ on the chorus (cf Justin Timberlake’s way of saying ‘me’ on *NSYNC’s ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’), this suitably summery floorfiller, resplendent with its Miami beach party video, proved to be money well spent when it became their fifth number one single.
5. BEAT AGAIN
Released: 13th July 2009 / Highest UK chart position: #1
Even with our retrospective piece we did of their first album last year, it feels like this Brit and MOBO winning debut number one is still vastly underestimated in its importance as a defining moment in British pop at the turn of the last decade.
This essentially, did for boybands what Girls Aloud’s ‘Sound of the Underground’ did for girl groups some seven years previously. It dragged a previously thought dead pop concept – the boyband – kicking and screaming into the 21st century, re-injecting excitement into the lives of a certain generation of pop fan along the way.
4. LOVE YOU MORE
Released: 15th November 2010 / Highest UK chart position: #1
Voted as ‘The Nation’s Favourite Love Song’ in a 2011 poll of Magic radio listeners, ‘Love You More’ was JLS’ first proper ballad, a soulful and emotive effort, as well as being the 2010 single for BBC Children in Need, giving them their fourth UK chart topper to boot.
Produced by Toby Gad (who also worked on hits for Beyoncé and Fergie), Marvin’s now wife Rochelle (formerly of The Saturdays) said in a 2018 interview for BBC Radio 2’s Tracks of My Years show that he wrote his part of the song for her when they first started dating. Isn’t that so romantic?
3. ONE SHOT
Released: 22nd February 2010 / Highest UK chart position: #6
It’s not most bands that drop the best single from their album slap bang at the end of its promo campaign. But the lads hit gold with ‘One Shot’, a halfway house between a sensitive piano ballad and a glowsticks-and-WKD’s-aloft raver, complete with a thoroughly brilliant mic stand dance routine.
Even now it remains a firm favourite when performed on tour, so you can expect us to be singing along with the crowd full tilt once again come December. Altogether now: ‘You only get one shot, so make it count / You might never get this moment agaaiiinnnn…’
2. EYES WIDE SHUT
Released: 13th February 2011 / Highest UK chart position: #8
The last single to be lifted off the ‘Outta This World’ album, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ married a club heavy synth riff with a melancholic pop sensibility that means this is one of their singles that’s held up best to the passing of time.
For the single mix, it was also bolstered by a slick guest feature from Brit rapper Tinie Tempah, who they subsequently performed the song with together at the London dates of their tour for the album in the winter of 2010.
1. EVERYBODY IN LOVE
Released: 1st November 2009 / Highest UK chart position: #1
Speaking on their ITV documentary JLS Revealed back in 2009, Oritsé said ‘Everybody we know who’s heard this loves this song. And that’s what we want. We want it so ten, fifteen years from now, people look back and remember it as our anthem.’
Fast forward a decade, and that’s precisely what ”Everybody In Love’ has become; a crowd pleasing modern boyband classic to rank with ‘Back for Good’ and ‘I Want It That Way’ as an all-time great of the genre.
Are you a fan of JLS? Do you agree with our ranking? Will you be going to their tour in November? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or Tweet us using the hashtag #JLSareBack.