In just over two years, JLS have sold more than two million albums, topped the singles charts five times and created one of the most spectacular live shows in pop. Runners up on 2008’s X Factor, JLS are by far the series’ most successful band, with more No.1s than any of the winners. 2010/11’s Outta This World tour sold out 38 arena dates everywhere from Aberdeen to London’s 02 and astonished audiences with some of the best props in pop, including a flying car and a robot defeated in a dance-off.
Tabloid fixtures from the moment they left X Factor, JLS are the defining British boy band of their generation, with fans from across the entertainment spectrum, from Tinie Tempah (with whom they collaborated last year) to James Cordon and Rio Ferdinand. You’ll hear their hits on playlists from Radio 1 to Magic and 1Xtra and even see their faces of packets on condoms, since they famously teamed up with Durex for in a non-profit, safer-sex initiative aimed at teenagers over 16. Last year they launched the JLS Foundation which works with various charities in the UK.
JLS, however, are only just getting started. With the release in November 2011 of their third album, ‘Jukebox’, the screams are about to get louder. Already ‘Jukebox’ has spawned its first No.1 in ‘She Makes Me Wanna’, an addictive, summer disco smash featuring Californian electro star Dev. Written with RedOne in London in March, on the first day of recording sessions for Jukebox, ‘She Makes Me Wanna’ began the ball rolling on an album that will not only secure JLS’ position as Britain’s best-loved pop band, but bring their music to a wider audience. “We called the album ‘Jukebox’ because there are all sorts of songs on there,” says Aston. “We spent six months recording – in London, L.A. and Copenhagen – with only one rule: there would be no boundaries. There are songs on the album fans wouldn’t expect from us and songs that couldn’t be by anyone else. Vocally, we pushed ourselves more than ever before. You won’t have heard me sing higher, or Marvin lower, but there are also more complex harmonies. Production-wise, we weren’t scared to try anything out.”
‘Jukebox’ still boasts plenty of the teen-friendly tracks JLS fans expect, except they’re smarter and sharper than before. ‘So Many Girls’ relentlessly changes tempo, lays close harmonies over squally synths, sneaks in a Bieber-style, vocal interlude and has a helium-high chorus and a handful of false endings. ‘Teach Me How To Dance’, produced in London with RedOne and BeatGeek, is multi-tracked, dancefloor-friendly fun with rave synths, house beats and breakdowns. ‘Killed By Love’, written by the band with Chris Braide, is a show-stopping ballad featuring a full live band.
Meanwhile, midtempo love song ‘Go Harder’, produced by Cutfather in Copenhagen, plays up the boys’ individual voices and includes ‘Jukebox’s’ most obvious ‘lighters-aloft’ moment. “Put your hands in the air/And leave ‘em up there,” insists the chorus. Come JLS’s 2012 arena tour, crowds won’t require prompting.