Last night saw 24-year-old singer James Arthur crowned The King of the X Factor 2012. Winning the country over with his working class tattoos, a right good singing voice and a few sob stories chucked in for good measure, his victory was rejoiced amongst fellow contestants, judges and England alike. Now a contractually obliged member of the Syco production line, Arthur’s future lies in the hands of the big Simon Cowell himself.
Now this is all well and good if you are a Leona Lewis or One Direction but – and correct me if I’m wrong – Arthur is pretty rock and roll. Like Frank Turner rock and roll, not Frankie Cocozza ‘rock and roll’. He can play guitar, he has a nice gravelly voice and dresses like the fourth member of Blink 182. Basically, he’s pretty cool. And he’s already got himself a band and with them, written a load of good and original music.
Now if that band (pre X-Factor) had entered lots of battle of the bands and new music competitions (like BBC Introducing) after a lot of hard graft and knock-backs they’d be likely to get an indie deal. They’d probably get a Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record accolade, some big support slots, then after a few albums, when they’d had time to work on their craft, they’d have made a fair few sales and enlisted a fairly large following. Then – all going well – on their fourth(ish) album they’d have major labels knocking down their door to sign on the dotted line (a la Lost Prophets or Bring Me The Horizon).
And because they already have success, they would have had the power to tailor the contract to their needs (rather than be victims of a Syco straightjacket). Then they’d have the cash behind them to try and break the US and the rest of the world. And they’d probably earn enough to carry on doing what they loved for the majority of their careers.
But instead, that bands lead singer has opted for fast success. He’s now going to be marketed as a ‘dark and doomy’ (do you remember Aiden Grimshaw? No? Exactly.) solo singer. He’ll get a couple of charted singles probably. His first album might even do quite well – if they release it quickly and ride the wave of the X Factor hype – but ultimately, he won’t be enjoying a long and credible career, and he’ll fall fail of misplaced marketing because well…the X Factor isn’t exactly the brand we all associate with punk rock and all its ideals.
HOWEVER, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Said light is Charlie Simpson. Do you remember him? Bushy eyebrowed one out of pop ‘punk’ trio Busted. The band all the music kids in the playground HATED because they were so obviously like the STUPIDIST BAND EVER for stealing their guitars and skate-style while singing some (admittedly brilliant) pop songs, because of course, pop music isn’t ‘real’…man.
Well, Busted are no more and Simpson is now the front man of a proper, real rock and roll band – Fightstar. And guess what? All the music kids LOVE him because the band is pretty good and he’s obviously excellent. Despite the fact that he used to be that ABSOLUTE FOOL from BUSTED.
So basically, the James Arthur Band ideal isn’t doomed. He hasn’t sold his soul just yet. He can probably come back in another musical life – after his short lived fill of cars, girls and cash – as long as he does it right next time. It will be like the return of the prodigal son, WE’RE STILL HERE FOR YOU JAMES.
[UPDATE: Talking to me, bass player of the James Arthur Band Rich Doney has said: “We have no idea what the future holds at this point, I think James may well get sent in the right direction, so hopefully he’ll avoid the dreaded winners curse and all that, but we have of course spoke and we will certainly carry on, in what way and when we don’t know right now…crazy times” Interesting]