The past year has been a good one for contestants from the UK version of The X Factor here in the States.
Bratty pop starlet Cher Lloyd scored a Top 20 hit with “Want U Back,” and a little boy band called One Direction earned two straight number one albums and sold out a 2013 tour. But there’s one X Factor alum still waiting for his big break here in America: Olly Murs, a dapper showman with an upbeat repertoire that we think you should get to know.
Murs first caught our attention with his brassy and delightfully retro “Dance With Me Tonight” (seriously, give it a listen), which hasn’t been officially released in the U.S.. Instead, the cheeky bloke’s first U.S. single was a more pop radio-oriented jam called “My Heart Skips A Beat,” featuring buzzy rap duo Chiddy Bang. The song, which had gone No. 1 all over the world, was released here in June but failed to make an impact on the chart.
Not to worry, though. Murs is coming back with a new Flo Rida collaboration called “Troublemaker,” the first single off his upcoming Right Place Right Time, due in April 2013. The song and album have both already hit the top of the charts in the U.K., and with a little luck, “Troublemaker” could find a spot on the U.S. charts. We’ll see. The song heads to radio in January.
We recently sat down with Olly after a show in New York City to hear a bit about his style, trying to make it in America, and his take on his fellow British pop stars.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: For people that don’t know your music, how would you describe it?
OLLY MURS: It’s just fun music. My new music has got a more sentimental feeling toward it, but what I’ve done before has been a little bit more cheeky and a laugh.
You’re a total performer on stage. You dance, you make goofy faces… What artists inspired that sort of showmanship?
I look at Robbie Williams, Michael Buble, even Justin Timberlake. And James Brown, Michael Jackson — there are so many over the years that I’ve look at and admired, so I don’t know where I get my, sort of, swag — that’s the word now, isn’t it? — I don’t know where I get it from. I just enjoy performing, I enjoy entertaining crowds.
Were you a performer before you ended up on The X Factor, then?
Yeah, I used to go to pubs with my mates. We used to go to clubs. We used to just dance and perform and muck around. I never did anything as big as the X-Factor, of course. Only in front of small crowds, but it was always really fun.
Is it weird to come to come to the U.S. and answer that sort of question about your early beginnings? You just put out your third album at home, so I’m guessing you left those questions behind a few years ago.
No, not at all. I mean, when you come to the States, you’ve gotta start from scratch. It’s a new start for everyone. We’ve got to showcase my talent and try to win new fans.
So what’s next for you over here?
We’ve got some shows coming in January — three of them. So that’s a chance for the fans I’ve got in America to come and see me for the first time in a proper show. And then I’ve got my own arena tour [in the UK] next year, I’ve got my album coming out [in the US] in April, and I’ve got “Troublemaker” out right now. And then I’m doing a stadium tour [in the UK] with Robbie Williams, which is great.
Speaking of “Troublemaker,” have you actually met Flo Rida yet?
No, I haven’t actually. Things have changed so much in the past five years. Everyone just emails songs. But you know what? He loved it, recorded it, sent it back, I said yes, and he said, “Well would you want to do a song for me in the future?” I was like, “Yep!”
He’s not a bad ally to have on the chart.
What I love about Flo is he doesn’t just pick any old song to sing. He really wants a song that’s going to be a hit, and I think he knew straightaway that this was going to be a good hit, and it went number one in the U.K. and [Right Place Right Time] is number one on the album chart, so I can’t complain.
Alright, enough of that stuff. Now, onto the important questions. First up: puppies or kittens?
Oooh, I’d say puppies. I’m a big dog fan.
Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram?
Twitter. Twitter’s the most impressive, I think. It’s fun, and it’s an easier way of accessing people.
I’d probably say The Hobbit.
Let’s talk British pop music. Who deserves to have a comeback: Samantha Mumba, BBMak, or S Club 7?
BBMak would be good. They were good lads. I remember buying one of their songs, but I don’t remember what it was!
Alright, you toured with One Direction this year. Name the top three selling One Direction dolls of 2012 in order, as reported by The Sun.
I reckon Harry sold the most.
He didn’t? Wow.
It’s changed. Harry used to sell the most.
Then Niall. Niall sold the most.
I reckon Harry is second and Louis is third.
Close, but you switched Louis and Harry.
Wow, so it’s Niall, then Louis, then Harry? Wow.
Yeah, but Liam is still in last, and he lost one percent. Okay, when you’re in a down mood: Coldplay or Keane?
If you were in a spinoff group called the Spice Boys, what would your name be?
Clumsy. I’d be Clumsy Spice.
Adele, Florence Welch, or Emeli Sande?
Adele, of course. Who wouldn’t pick Adele? She’s amazing.
And there you have it, folks! Are you a fan of Olly? Do you think either he or “Troublemaker” will be able to make it in the States?