This week, UK quartet Union J reportedly announced it's in the process of finalizing a contract with Sony Records, with plans to release a debut album in 2013. Though singers George Shelley, Josh Cuthbert, Jaymi Hensley and JJ Hamblett are all virtual unknowns in the States, they've already got an ardent following in Britain, where they competed on the 9th season of X Factor. The group finished fourth, but has garnered almost as much press as season winner James Arthur. Everyone's wondering if they've got what it takes to compete with today's reigning boy band, One Direction. Will Union J be the 'N Sync to One Direction's Backstreet Boys?
It's obviously too early to say, but there's certainly promise. Anyone who endured the last wave of boyband mania — or anyone who's seen the excellent MTV made-for-TV movie 2ge+her — knows there are certain archetypes present in each successful group: the "Heartthrob," the "Bad Boy," the "Cute One," and so on. Josh Cuthbert, who often simmers, open-mouthed, instead of smiling, is very clearly the pretty boy in Union J's equation, while the mop-haired George Shelley gives off squeaky clean innocent vibes. Former model JJ Hamblett has enough tattoos to pique any rebellious 11-year-old's curiosity, while Jaymi Hensley, who recently came out as gay, presents himself like a warm and welcoming best friend who also happens to sing like an angel.
They may not be as cuddly cute or endearingly rambunctious as the 1D crew, but they're relatively new to the game — there's time to polish them yet. Remember, friends, that when 'N Sync first entered the popscape in the late '90s, the group's Chris Kirkpatrick looked like this:
The Union J guys are already cool with the grizzled old One Direction dudes: There's no bad blood between these potential rivals. Union J's Josh Cuthbert (who has a miraculous head of hair, it should be noted) recently posed for a photo with One Direction's Liam Payne, later telling Heat magazine, "They're really nice lads. They're like friends, we're getting to know them. We've seen them a few times now. There's no rivalry there at all - we'd love to be as successful as them."
They've got one thing very wrong, it's this flawless prince that has 18 tattoos not JJ