Gary Barlow has announced that his first solo album since 1999 will be released in the U.K. on Nov. 25, 2013. The album's title and track listing are to be announced. Barlow tweeted on Sept. 17, 2013: "After 14 long years I'm proud to announce my new solo album out on November 25th! I'm excited for u to hear it! More info to follow #gbsolo"
Barlow is the co-founder, lead singer and chief songwriter of Take That. His previous solo albums were 1999's "Twelve Months, Eleven Days" and 1997's "Open Road."
Barlow and the Commonwealth Band featuring the Military Wives had a No. 1 single in the U.K. in 2012 with the official Diamond Jubilee song "Sing." Barlow also did a solo tour in the U.K. that year.
Barlow (who is 42) had previously told the media that the next Take That album would be released by the end of 2013, followed by a Take That tour in 2014. Those plans have obviously changed.
Now, the plan is for Take That to begin recording an album in January 2014. A Take That tour will also likely happen in 2014, according to the Irish Mirror.
In an interview published by the Irish Mirror on Sept. 13, 2013, Barlow says that he does know not at this point if Robbie Williams will be part of the next Take That album and tour. Williams reunited with Take That for the group's mega-successful 2010 "Progress" album and 2011 tour. However, Williams quit the group again in October 2011, after the tour ended, in order to resume his solo career. Williams' departure from Take That in 2011 was amicable, unlike his bitter split from the group in 1995.
Barlow commented about the possibility of Williams reuniting with Take That in 2014: "If Rob’s around he’ll be with us. If not, it’ll be a [group of] four. It can go either way. It keeps us guessing as well. I think it’ll probably be a four. It’ll be next year – definitely.”
Barlow became a judge on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2011, when he replaced Simon Cowell on the judging panel. (Cowell is still an executive producer of "The X Factor.") The show's auditions that year were rescheduled to accommodate Barlow's tour dates with Take That.
Cowell left "The X Factor" U.K. judging panel to become a judge on "The X Factor" U.S., which has had an alarming decrease in ratings every year since its premiere in September 2011. "The X Factor" U.S., whose third season began in September 2013, is likely to get cancelled after the season is over, since the show's costs do not justify its dismal ratings.
After "The X Factor" U.S. is cancelled, Cowell is likely to go back to being a judge on "The X Factor" U.K., where ratings have declined since he left the show's judging panel, but the show's ratings are still strong enough that ITV has signed to a deal to keep the show on the air for at least the next few years.
It's very possible that Cowell will return to "The X Factor" U.K. around the same time that Barlow will be busy with the next Take That album and tour.
Barlow is not saying either way if he will be a judge on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2014 or not. He commented to the Irish Mirror: “I have done the show and an album before – it did nearly kill me and I was three years younger. But it’s not impossible.”
Barlow has admitted to the media that in the past that he and Cowell have feuded with each other. However, Barlow appears to want to put the feud behind him and not talk about his past problems with Cowell, because he told the Irish Mirror: “I’ve always got on great with Simon. We have our meetings in February or March and he has never been anything but a gentleman to me. I’ve never had one of those calls where he has said, ‘Change that’ or ‘Do this.'”
In the interview, Barlow (who has two daughters and a son with his wife Dawn) also commented on Cowell becoming a father for the first time. Cowell and his lover Lauren Silverman are expecting a child in February 2014, when Cowell will be 54.
Barlow said, “I think it’s going to be great for Simon. I was 30 when I had my first, which is probably about right. My mum was 20 when she had my brother, which is so young. The one thing I’ve learned about kids is that they give you great perspective in this stupid world. You don’t get annoyed about stuff, you don’t take stuff too seriously and you realize how lucky you are not to be doing a real job.”
Although Barlow does not know yet if he will be back on "The X Factor" U.K. judging panel in 2014, he does know that he is a more relaxed judge in 2013. He admitted to the Irish Mirror that he won't be as upset if the type of off-key novelty acts that are preferred by fellow judge Louis Walsh are put through to the next round.
Barlow said, “I know Louis Walsh has a couple up his sleeve this year, of course he has. Last year I was worried, thinking if Rylan [Clark] wins the show it makes us look stupid. I thought, if this guy wins, it’s finished. As a format, it’s gone. Coming back this year I think I’ll probably be a bit more relaxed, knowing the public will make the right decision.”
Because singer/songwriter James Arthur won on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2012, Barlow said he is confident that the show's voters ultimately reward true talent. Barlow said of Arthur: “The first time I saw him audition he was my favorite but I thought he was too left of center for the audience. I did them a disservice thinking they’d not vote for him. When he won, it showed me that when it really counts people will make the right decision."
Barlow is mentoring the Groups category in 2013, and he is well aware that it has been very difficult for a group to win on "The X Factor." Since the show's debut in 2004, only one group (Little Mix, in 2011) has won on the show.
In his interview with the Irish Mirror, Barlow candidly admitted: "I’m not convinced I have a winner but I’ve got a great category. We all want to win but you look at what you’ve got and think, ‘I can make a difference.'”
As previously reported, Olly Murs is the guest mentor with Barlow in the "judges' houses" phase of the competition in 2013. Murs will join Barlow in New York City to help select the contestants in the Groups category that will perform in the live episodes.
In 2013 on "The X Factor" U.K., Walsh is mentoring the Boys category (male solo singers ages 16 to 27); Nicole Scherzinger is mentoring the Girls category (female solo singers ages 16 to 27); and Sharon Osbourne is mentoring the Overs category (solo singers ages 28 and over).
Sept. 23, 2103 update: According to the Daily Mirror, Barlow's third solo album will include a duet with Elton John. The title of the song is to be announced.