I loved James Arthur on the X Factor last year. I found him very credible musically, I enjoyed his work and I was happy to see him win. Predictably we’ve heard very little of him since, largely to do with the fact that X Factor winners routinely hibernate through the spring and summer, until the new series starts up and they reappear in a blaze of musical activity. So it has been with James.
There has been a new single, which I didn’t love. However, I accept that if you owe your career to the X Factor, it will loom over the first few years of your career like a great hunking troll, and you buckle down and put in the hours until you are able to emerge, blinking like a newborn Bambi in the sunlight. I know that many people consider that to be tantamount to signing your soul away to Satan and not a deal they are willing to make. I am now wondering if possibly James Arthur didn’t realise that was the deal he was making.
To clarify, as part of that deal, you don’t get into arguments with little known rappers. You certainly don’t make diss tracks that use homophobic language and then stoke the flames on Twitter. However, despite the fact that his actions over the last couple of weeks have certainly been questionable, and homophobic language is never acceptable, that’s not my real problem with this whole incident.
There is a whole team surrounding James Arthur. I couldn’t even begin to list all the people that will now be involved in his career, making a living off the back of his talent. Unfortunately, when he was penning and recording Hey Mickey, none of the them were to be found. Similarly, when it was posted on You Tube, he was working alone. Posting on Twitter? I guess he was locked in the bathroom. But surely, surely, someone must have been involved when he was adding it to the album that is widely available on iTunes?
The problems with Hey Mickey are myriad. There’s the homophobic references for a start. In addition, the rest of the language is not appropriate for the first album of an artist that made his career on a family show. The main thing, though, is that the song is really bloody awful. It’s fine for something shoved together to piss someone off, but it’s not something you can honestly expect people to pay money for. Surely someone in some part of his management team should be operating quality control. Even if there was no controversial element to it, it sounds deeply unprofessional.
So, when we are all slagging James Arthur off, I think it is reasonable to remember that, in fact, he didn’t do all this on his own. The management who are now running his Twitter account for him are the ones who should be protecting him and preventing this shit from going down. As a side point, I don’t imagine for one moment that he is really homophobic, merely that he used the sort of language rife on this sort of music without thinking about what it really means. He is still a young man and people are earning money to be aware of that and stop this kind of thing happening. Because of that, I feel deeply sorry for James Arthur. I really hope his career can make it out the other side.
If you’re interested though, and let’s face it, you must be, here’s where you can find Hey Mickey. Just don’t judge the poor lad too harshly.