Joe McElderry: ‘I’m using muscles I’ve never used’

Joe McElderry reveals how difficult he’s finding it to sing in a foreign language as he prepares to compete in ITV1’s Popstar to Operastar from this Sunday…

Have you been enjoying the Popstar To Operastar rehearsals?

“It’s good fun, but all very strange and different from what I’m used to. I’m completely out of my comfort zone as I’m learning a different way of singing and performing. I’ve definitely thrown myself in at the deep end!”

Is it difficult to learn so many new and specialist techniques?

“Singing comes naturally to me, but this is very technical. You have to think about how you stand, breath and then also try to remember the words! Afterwards I feel like I’ve been doing sit-ups in rehearsals as I’m using stomach muscles I’ve never used before to push out a note.”

A lot of operatic songs are in languages such as Spanish, Italian and French. How are you coping with learning new languages?

“Trying to speak another language is one thing – but trying to sing it is really another! I’m given English translations of the songs so I know what I’m singing about, but I only pretend to read them as I don’t want to complicate the process any more than necessary!”

The other competitors include Erasure’s Andy Bell, Cheryl Baker from Bucks Fizz, Steps star Claire Richards and Midge Ure – who do you anticipate being your biggest threat?

“The thing is no one knows how any of us are going to sound until the live show. Our singing voices sound completely different because it’s such a different style of singing. That’s one of the really exciting things about this show. I sound so different to myself and hope I can pull it off.”

Are you nervous about singing opera live and being criticised by the judges?

“I’m really looking forward to it, as I miss the thrill of performing on a live show every week. I know I can deal with pressure, but whether I’m going to enjoy singing opera on a live show is another thing! As for criticism from judges – I’m used to that too, so hopefully it should be OK! Our mentors Katherine Jenkins and Rolando Villazon are really understanding of the pressures we’re under.”

Are you still in touch with your X Factor mentor Cheryl Cole?

“Yes I am! I spoke to her about a week ago. I’m sure if she’s in the country she’s going to tune in!”

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