Dumped by his record company, and still known for failing to top the charts with his debut single, the 2009 X Factor winner seemed finished.
Several months later he has had a No. 1 album, is gearing up for a tilt at the Christmas charts and will play the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, on Monday night.
And the enthusiastic Geordie reckons a positive attitude is what helped him bounce back.
"I don't really listen to anyone that is writing me off," he says.
"Even now, after such an amazing chart position [with his second album Classic], you still get people saying negative things about you and your career, so it makes no difference what happened. It tends to be people being really small-minded, so I ignore them."
Key to Joe's re-emergence into the spotlight was his triumph in this summer's Popstar To Operastar TV show, which saw him mentored by Rolando Villazon and Katherine Jenkins.
Joe obviously had prior experience winning TV shows, but he believes his dabbling in the opera world will provide a long-term boost.
"It was one of the hardest things I have done, singing wise," he says. "I have never had many singing lessons, so to go and have that kind of intense training was really stressful, but I came out at the end of it and felt like I had a new voice. I felt like I had found my own voice. It was a real boost to the confidence."
After winning the final in July, it was straight into the studio for the 20-year-old. New album Classic promptly topped the charts when it was released at the end of August, and has already gone gold.
Mixing the likes of I Dreamed A Dream with a handful of operatic numbers, it is a classy collection of songs, that Joe rattled through quickly when recording.
"I recorded it in six days," he says.
"It took a while to make the first album, which was one reason I wanted to go the other way and see the other side of working with a fast deadline.
"It was stressful, but in a good way because it is quite a hard test to sing two songs every day for six days, over and over again, just to get the best kind of sound."
His rapid recovery from the pop scrapheap seemed unlikely earlier this year, after his label Syco dropped him from his contract after just one album, Wide Awake.
While he enjoyed success with the record, the fact his debut single lost out to Rage Against The Machine's Killing In The Name Of in the Christmas charts seemed to carry over to the album, and after charting at No. 3 Wide Awake slid down the charts swiftly.
"I loved the first record, and I loved the style, it did really well, it was just the critics that wrote it off," says Joe.
"It's like any job, you make a few mistakes, you learn from them, you pick up tips and make sure you have a better experience learning the craft. I think you have to do that, or else you'll spend your time feeling sorry for yourself, and regretting things."
His new album Classic Christmas will be released on November 28 and it includes what will be his single tilt at the Christmas No.1, a cover of Wham's Last Christmas.
So it could be 2009 X Factor winner versus 2011 X Factor champ for the top single.
l Royal Concert Hall, November 21, £29.50/£27, 7:30pm.