Liberty X were ‘doin it’ just a little bit, worked just a little bit, but did they think it over just a little bit more?
Like Hear’Say and all the others, five piece group Liberty, later Liberty X, came from a reality pop stars in the making TV show. Michelle Heaton (b.1979), Tony Lundon (b.1979), Kevin Simm (b.1980), Jessica Taylor (b.1980) and Kelli Young (b.1982) were all finalists in the 2001 series of Popstars who were not picked for the line up of the aforementioned group but were given a second chance and a second hope due to their own individual talents. Signed to Virgin subsidiary label V2, Liberty, as they were originally called, wasted no time in planting their seed in the soil, releasing their debut single, “Thinking It Over”, in September 2001.
The song went to No.5 in the UK, while the follow up, “Doin’ It”, could only make No.14, nevertheless, a chart hit. Just as things were getting off, trouble brewed, when a band also called Liberty took legal action against them and the fivesome decided after a newspaper headline branding them X (as in ex) Liberty, they would use this to their advantage and so became Liberty X forever more. It worked too as their third single, “Just A Little”, was the one that really put them on the music map when it topped the UK singles chart in May 2002, becoming one of the biggest sellers of that year. “Just A Little” was also a breakout hit for them across the rest of the world, making the top ten throughout much of Europe and a top five hit in Australia. Liberty X released their debut album, “Thinking It Over”, that same month and it too was a huge hit, gaining double Platinum status in the UK for sales of over 600,000 copies.
“Thinking It Over” would produce two further hits with a cover of Mantronix’s 1990 global smash “Got To Have Your Love”, which Kurtis Mantronik himself remixed for Liberty X, and “Holding On For You”, both of which reached the top five in the UK and charted top 40 in most other territories. Liberty X were now flying just as high as Hear’Say and with a sell-out arena tour to promote the album into 2003, the group began work on a follow up. Working with rising producer Richard X, Liberty X stormed back to the front line in March 2003 with “Being Nobody”, a multi-cover version song that brought together Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” and The Human League‘s “Being Boiled”. The song found radio and commercial interest and entered the UK singles chart at No.3. The group preceded their second album with the single “Jumpin'” in October that same year, which would peak at No.6 in the UK and chart all over Europe, including Finland, where Liberty X got their first hit single in that country.
The album, “Being Somebody”, followed in November 2003 and although won a Gold disc for sales of 100,000 copies in the UK, sales and chart positions did not match or better those of their first. Following a third single, “Everybody Cries” (UK No.13), in early 2004, Liberty X parted ways with V2 records and took a breather to work out what to do next. They signed with Unique Corp Records and in September 2005, released their ‘comeback’ single, “Song 4 Lovers”, which was co-written by Rev Run of Run DMC. Any fears that the magic or following had ‘run’ away were quickly dispelled as “Song 4 Lovers” took Liberty X back to the UK top ten and the top five. They released their third album, “X”, the following month, which also featured the next single, a cover of Shalamar‘s 1982 classic “A Night To Remember”, which Liberty X took to No.6 in the UK, the group’s eighth top ten hit. The song was released in support of that years Children In Need single.
“X”, however, was not a commercial success and gained no awards. Following the release of the title track in 2006 as a single and flopping, Liberty X went into the shadows for a while, while deciding on the next move. Still signed to Unique Corp Records, they made a number of live appearances during 2006 and 2007, but after a number of promised new songs and a fourth album, they announced in May 2007, that they were parting ways. That, however, lasted just five years! In 2012, Liberty X were back for the TV series The Big Reunion, reuniting groups from the last twenty years to see who was the audiences favourite. Liberty X were up against Blue, 911, the Honeyz and 5ive, among others. The group also took part in a live tour of the show into 2013 as well as one-off gigs in 2014 and 2016, but the group maintained they would not reform and record any more new music. Since 2016, Liberty X has been put to sleep. Michelle Heaton moved into television as a presenter, while Tony Lundon followed suit, appearing alongside Heaton in episodes of Bo Selecta. He has forged a more successful career as a film director and a producer since, however.
Kevin Simm made attempts to continue in the music industry as a solo artist, but without much success, releasing two studio albums and a handful of singles, which did nothing. In 2016, Simm auditioned and took part in that year’s series of The Voice. Simm made it to the final and won the contest with his performance of Rihanna’s “Stay”. Although this did nothing for his solo career, in 2018, he became the new Marti Pellow as he replaced the former front man of the band Wet Wet Wet. They recorded and released a new album, “The Journey”, in 2021. Apart from a few television appearances, Jessica Taylor largely dropped out of sight following Liberty X’s hiatus. She married cricketer Kevin Pietersen and has spent her time as a mother to their two children. Kelli Young has also been missing in action, save the odd TV appearance. She did, however, sing a version of Mariah Carey’s infernal Christmas strangler “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on the TV show Britain Sings Christmas in 2007. But in 2022, Liberty X, or at least three-fifths of the group, took to the road again…
Kelli, Jessica and Michelle at least are to perform their back catalogue as a trio at a number of Summer festivals and concerts across the UK. The boys are nowhere to be seen. Kevin is Wet, Wet Wet and Tony seems to have no interest whatsoever now. So if you want a little bit more…
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