So, there you are. It’s 2014 and you have just won the 11th series of X Factor in the UK. While the Bill Withers’ soul classic “Ain’t No Sunshine” got you in the competition, you took the winnings with One Republic’s ”Something I Need”, which then got to number one on Christmas! This is the story of Ben Haenow.
The soul in his voice probably comes from a life full of challenges. Ben started battling a depression and an alcohol addiction at the early age of 14, not being able to deal with his parents’ divorce and his mom having to work all the time (she was juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet).
Now, at the age of 30, and with last year’s Christmas number one in his pocket, life is looking a lot better. Still, it was clear to everyone, this was not the kind of singer to give a light hearted bubbly pop song too. He would need a different repertoire, so why not turn to the influence of music that has always been about the hardship of life? Country.
“Second Hand Heart” is a combination of pop, rock and the updated country sound that was actually introduced by Avicii’s last dance hits. Lyrically, it tells the story of someone who’s made mistakes, trying to improve and, basically, being really honest by asking to accept a second hand heart.
Kelly Clarkson, who got her start herself winning the first season of American Idol, joins him on this song from the second verse onwards. She actually repeats the same words from the first verse, but her voice, higher, makes sure the song is strong and really lifts this song to a higher level.
The combination of the two, make this a strong original debut for Ben Haenow, who has chosen this track to lead his upcoming album release on November 13th, but I don’t think another Christmas number one will be in the cards for him.
The album will feature harder pop rock songs and commercial pop, in an attempt to keep all the audiences his built up tied into his career. After all, before X Factor he was singing in rock bands and on TV he became the pop singer. Still, a song written by Ed Sheeran didn’t make it to the album.
Most songs that did make it to his debut album were co-written by Ben. He worked with JR Rotem (Rihanna), Jim Duiguid (Paolo Nutini) and Amy Wadge (who’s written for the previously mentioned Ed Sheeran).Based on that, we could expect anything.