The fertile waters of the U.K. reality TV show "X Factor" show have already given the Billboard charts Leona Lewis and, more recently, One Direction. Now the program has sent over 18-year-old Cher Lloyd, who finished fourth in the 2011 season of the talent competition (the same year One Direction came in third). Lloyd's single "Want U Back" (SYCO/Epic) is percolating under the Mainstream Top 40 chart, with early support from Sirius XM's Hits 1 channel.
"Shawn Mullins' storytelling got me interested in songwriting," British-born singer/songwriter Callaghan reveals. "His (1998) album Soul's Core was one of the very first albums that I bought. I still listen to it a lot now." Fourteen years later, Mullins, who sent his breakout hit "Lullabye" to No. 1 on Mainstream Top 40 for two weeks, serves as producer on Callaghan's debut full-length album, Life in Full Colour, released May 1 on the independent Green Town label. The origin of the collaboration? Mullins became a fan after the enterprising Callaghan sent him a MySpace message in 2009.
Leah LaBelle, who placed 12th on the 2004 season of "American Idol," is approaching her first Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart entry with "Sexify," at No. 5 this week on the chart's Bubbling Under survey. In 2011, LaBelle signed a deal with Epic, Jermaine Dupri's So So Def Recordings and Pharrell Williams' new imprint, I Am Other. The "Sexify" video premiered on mtv.com on May 9 and includes cameos by Dupri, Williams and LaBelle's pop singer/actress friend JoJo.
Singer/songwriter Andy Gibson continues his gradual ascent on Hot Country Songs with his debut single "Wanna Make You Love Me," which bullets at No. 27. Gibson was discovered by John Rich, who spotted him singing in a Mexican restaurant in Nashville and signed him to a publishing deal. Gibson co-wrote the 2011 Jason Aldean/Kelly Clarkson Hot Country Songs No. 1 "Don't You Wanna Stay." His indie deal with the R&J label was recently picked up by Curb, with his debut album expected this year.