Wow, Noddy Holder must really be quaking in his boots. The Slade frontman has more and more competition every year for the title of most-played Christmas song, with close to a dozen major artists taking a stab at the dying art this year. Leona Lewis isn’t going to trouble the ’70s legend with this substance-light ten-song collection of festive standards though, and you have to wonder why one of the most successful former X-Factor winners is lowering herself to make such a crappy record. Then you realise which record company she’s signed to, and the unmistakable whiff of Simon Cowell becomes as clear as day (Lewis is signed to the mogul’s Syco label); it’s easy to imagine him looking at the Christmas charts with glowing dollar signs in his eyes. Lewis has a strong and soulful voice, but listening to the cheesy schmaltz on this album made me want to tear down the tree, set fire to the tinsel, drop-kick the turkey off the balcony and cancel Christmas forever. Opener ‘One More Sleep’ is a dire start and probably the low point of the album, while ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘White Christmas’ are almost as painful but at least allow Lewis to flaunt her impressive vocal range. ‘O Holy Night’ makes a slight improvement, but then the horror of ‘Ave Maria’ drags the record back into the gutter. Perhaps Christmas albums shouldn’t be taken seriously, but this one is just another piece of evidence in the case against television talent shows. (Syco/RCA)
Irish pop twins Jedward are a seriously excitable pair of lads. They have so much energy that every one of these sentences should probably end with an exclamation mark, and their upbeat lust for life and desire to talk and talk and talk some more is simply infectious. I spoke to John (as Edward was “in the other room eating cereal”) about their upcoming Australian shows and the trick to fielding questions about their famous hairstyles. Warning: some of these answers have very little to do with the original questions.
You’ll be coming to Australia for three headline shows at the end of November. What can Australian fans expect from your shows?
It’s really exciting because these will be our very first shows ever in Australia. We’ve been to all the European countries doing concerts; I think we’ve done about four hundred concerts in total over the last three years or whatever, so we’re really excited. We’ll have over thirty songs; we’ll be doing pop songs, dance songs, pop-rock songs, we’ll play guitar on stage, we’ll do covers that people don’t even know, and some that people will know. Our songs are really really catchy anyway, so even by the end of the song people will be singing along and having a great time. We’re so excited about coming all the way from Ireland! It’s such a long trip; twenty-three hours to get Down Under to do concerts for our fans.
What covers will you be doing?
We haven’t decided yet. We’ve done ‘Little Things’ by Justin Timberlake, and some Ed Sheeran. We need to pick some slow songs, and then some kind of more ‘pop’. We only decide about a week before or whatever, so we haven’t really decided yet, but they’re going to be songs that everyone knows so we can get a proper vibe going. We kind of just bang through songs; we don’t drag the songs out for ages. You know when you go to a concert and they do, like, a six-minute version? We kind of just do it quickly, then it’s next song, next song, next song. We also have ten outfit changes, and that’s a lot of outfit changes. Most bands only have, like, three maximum, so it’s really really good. We just can’t wait to rock it when we come to Australia!
You’ll be playing some pretty big venues. Will your show be a big production with special effects and things like that?
Oh yeah, we’re going to have lots of stuff; lights, choreography, screens and crowd interaction. Nothing’s scripted or anything; I mean, we know our songs and what to do on-stage and everything, but talking to the crowd when everyone’s excited and we’re excited as well, is a really good vibe. We rock out to the max, so if anyone wants to have a good time, come to our show. Even in Ireland, when we’ve had thirty-seven shows over Christmas, doing two shows a day, we always have energy. We’re really fit, we’ve ran a marathon, and we’re ready to do the shows!
Did you actually run a marathon?
Yeah! We ran a marathon. We ran twenty-seven miles and we used to run five or six times a week, so we’re ready to go and do it. We ran it in three hours forty three minutes, but we were kind of just strolling it; we didn’t train for it. I play guitar on stage, and all our fans love when I play guitar on stage; they sing along with all their hands in the air. It’s a really really good vibe. I played guitar on the Internet, and I think it got a couple of million views on YouTube, so I decided to play guitar in all our shows. Our concerts aren’t all the same sound; we’ve got slow songs, dance, and pop stuff in there. It’s all different. We need to give people time to rest as we have loads of energy and we like to go crazy.
Where do you get all this energy? I feel like you could probably talk all day if I let you.
We’ve always been like that. We’ve always been runners and sports fans, and we always eat healthily. All this energy means we’re focussed and driven. You know sprinting when it’s like on your marks, set, BANG? We’re like that all the time; straight out there, but I think it’s the way we talk that makes people think that as well. We use a lot of actions words like ‘crazy’, ‘cool’ and ‘okay’; we use these words, like, a million times. That makes people think we have lots of energy, but we’re just like everyone else. For example, sometimes at airports, we’ll be talking to, like, a hundred girls all at once, when normally if you talk to girls it’ll be just you and the girl. Or if we do a C.D. signing and meet, like, a thousand people and have a thousand different conversations people might think we’re crazy.
Do you have any plans for new music?
We’ve done three albums. Our first album was just cover songs, our second album was more dance-y, and our last album was more of a live, pop-rock vibe. We wrote our next album all by ourselves, and we want it to have a more mainstream sound, not appealing to just one audience, and with a more solid, strong sound. We’re really excited about coming to Australia and doing TV shows and playing our new songs, and because we wrote them ourselves, we feel them one hundred percent. When we’re writing songs we really think outside the box; they’re all different and we never feel like “oh here we go again”. None of the songs have “I love you” or “love you” or anything like that in the titles; they’re really, like, solid and strong.
What else besides music would you like to get involved in?
I think the last four years have been such a learning experience, kind of like college. We want to do everything to a higher level and standard. We’re always going to have our hair and clothes and stay true to ourselves and stuff like that, but we just want to do everything on a bigger scale.
Don’t you ever get sick of people asking about your hair?
It’s okay; we don’t mind it. It’s like right in their face, it’s right there, so I think when people are lost for words ask “so how do you do your hair?” In twenty years time we still want to be performing concerts and doing ‘Under Pressure’ and ‘Lipstick’, so I think we have to accept and be appreciative of our fans and whatever they ask. It’s like Britney Spears; she still sings ‘…Baby One More Time’, like, fifteen years later because it’s for the fans.
If you could record a song with any singer alive today, who would you choose?
I’d like to do a song with John Williams. He’s a composer and did the soundtrack to Jurassic Park and loads of other great soundtracks. I’d like to write a song with him; he writes such ‘massive’ songs. He’s, like, eighty-four, so maybe before he dies we can do a song or something like that. I’d also like to do a song with Pharrell, Justin Timberlake or Timbaland; you know their sort of really cool, simple, uncomplicated melodies? I’d love that.
Do you ever have to tone down your accents or slow down when speaking to people around the world?
Yes! We were just in Singapore and everyone spoke English, but we really had to slow down a bit so they could understand what we were saying. I feel like in the future we’ll be going to a lot of different countries where they don’t even speak English, so we’ll have to talk really slowly and precisely. In Germany we had one of those translator things in our ears, and we had to talk really slowly.
What are you most looking forward to about coming to Australia?
I’m looking forward to actually being in Australia, and I want to go to New Zealand as well. We’d like to go to the reef; you have the barrier reef there, yeah? We’d like to do some scuba diving and meet a koala bear and a kangaroo and do everyday Australian things like surfing. We’re really excited.
JEDWARD PLAY THE REGAL THEATRE PERTH NOVEMBER 23, PALAIS THEATRE MELBOURNE NOVEMBER 30, AND ENMORE THEATRE SYDNEY DECEMBER 1.