On Oct. 13, 2013, Union J began officially streaming sneak previews of tracks on Union J's self-titled first album. Syco Music/RCA Records will release the album in the U.K. and Ireland on Oct. 28, 2013. Sneak previews of the tracks released so far "Head in the Clouds," "Save the Last Dance," "Where You Are Now" and "Beethoven."
Union J came in fourth place on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2012.
"Carry You," the first single from the "Union J" album, was a No. 6 hit in the U.K. "Carry You" is also on the "Kick-Ass 2" soundtrack.
"Beautiful Life," the album's second single, is set for release on Oct. 20, 2013.
Meanwhile, on Oct. 12, 2013, Union J temporarily changed the group's name to Union XY (for that day only) to celebrate the launch of the Nintendo video game "Pokémon X and Pokémon Y," which was released exclusively on Nintendo 3DS that day. Union J held a press conference in London to promote the group's involvement with "Pokémon X and Pokémon Y."
According to a press release, "Union J's George Shelley, a lifelong Pokémon fan, had suggested the idea to the rest of the band. He was also instrumental in the design of the Union XY logo, which they created especially to mark the band's renaming today. During the filming of the last season of 'X Factor,' the Union J boys were noted for passing the time by playing Pokémon."
Union J's Jaymie Hensley commented in the press release: "We all love Pokémon and are so excited that the wait for 'Pokémon X and Pokémon Y' is finally over: we're going to spend a lot of time battling each other when we go on tour."
Shelley added, "We wanted to do something awesome to celebrate the game's launch today, and changing our name to Union XY for the day was the ultimate tribute."
The year 2013 is a busy one for Union J. The group started the year as one of the acts on "The X Factor" U.K. tour, which had the Top 7 "X Factor" U.K. contestant acts in 2012. Union J also completed work on the group's first album.
The group has an official book ("Union J: Our Story") that was released in September 2013. Union J is doing a book signing at WH Smith in Liverpool, England, on Oct. 21, 2013 at 12 p.m. BST.
Union J got a big publicity boost from the movie "Kick-Ass 2." Union J's music video for "Carry You" is prominently featured in a scene in "Kick-Ass 2" where Mindy Macready, also known as superhero Hit-Girl (played by Chloë Grace Moretz), is at a slumber party with three vapid teenage girls from her high school. The girls are trying to teach tomboy Mindy to be more "girly." One of the teen bimbos tells Mindy that being fans of "'Twilight,' Channing Tatum and Union J" are part of being a normal teenage girl. "You can't fight it," she adds.
The girls then show Union J's "Carry You" music video to Mindy. And to her surprise, Mindy starts to get aroused. One of the girls exclaims after seeing the video, "I'm soaked!"
Union J was the opening act for Selena Gomez's concert in Lisbon, Portugal, on Sept. 11, 2013.
In a group statement, Union J said about the tour: "The thing we love most about music is performing and we are so excited to get out on the road for our first ever tour. Playing our album to fans will be brilliant. We are so excited and promise to put on a really special show.”
In addition to headlining a tour, Union J has been performing at various music festivals in 2013.
On Sept. 18, 2013, Jamie "JJ" Hamblett of Union J and his model girlfriend Caterina Lopez announced on Twitter that they are expecting a child together. Lopez tweeted an ultrasound scan photo of the baby on Sept. 19, 2013. Hamblett and Lopez, who began dating earlier this year, have not yet announced when the child is due to be born and if the baby is a boy or a girl.
Union J was originally a trio called Triple J, consisting of Cuthbert, Hamblett and Hensley. When Triple J auditioned for "The X Factor" U.K. in 2012, the group was eliminated at boot camp. But after the group Rough Copy was disqualified due to visa problems, Triple J was asked back to the competition on the condition that the group add Shelley, who auditioned for "The X Factor" as a guitar-playing solo singer. Shelley was added to the group's lineup, and the group's name was changed to Union J.
"The X Factor" U.K. judge Louis Walsh (who used to manage Westlife and Boyzone) was Union J's mentor on "The X Factor." Although Walsh tried to sign Union J to his management company, Union J ultimately chose to sign with Crown Talent & Media Group, which also manages award-winning singer Jessie J.