James Arthur opens up after split from on/off girlfriend of seven years
WITH one of the youngest squads in the tournament, England’s Euro 2020 players still have a lot to learn on the big stage ahead of their opening game against Croatia this Sunday.
And as his latest single, September, is released today from his upcoming fourth album, few can relate more to the pitfalls of sudden superstardom than James Arthur.
After winning The X Factor in 2012, he battled to keep his life on track amid the fame and almost blew it all before clawing his way back to the top.
With a knowing laugh, he tells me: “I guess it was the same, 100 per cent. It really is.
“I suppose the difference is that as part of a football club you’ve got a big support network — psychologists and all that kind of stuff.
“I’m sure they’ll be fine, but it’s a big step.
“Look at it already — even before the first game Phil Foden dyes his hair and everyone goes mad.
“The whole country will watch their every move.”
He is a big fan of England boss and former Middlesborough star Gareth Southgate.
Middlesborough-born James, a passionate supporter of The Boro, says: “Gareth Southgate is great, a legend, and I’ve got faith in him.
“He speaks very well and he’s a Boro hero, so I’m a big fan.”
James’s new record, a love song, is a slight twist on his previous catalogue while maintaining some of his familiar, gravely vocal.
He says: “It’s a style I started playing when I was young. I’m passionate about rock and hip-hop.
“Once you have a hit which is an acoustic pop ballad, people put you in a box which is hard to get out of.
“I’ve been chipping away, trying to introduce guitars because the radio stations in all honesty don’t want to play rock or that kind of thing.
“If I could, I’d probably drop the whole solo pop thing and start a band.
“I was watching Noel Gallagher on Jonathan Ross and he said, ‘The reason bands aren’t happening any more is because it’s two guys a lot of the time.
“If Oasis were around today it would’ve been Noel and Liam, the other guys would’ve been f***ed off’.”
Perhaps awkwardly, James’s latest single tells the tale of a passionate romance and comes just weeks after The Sun revealed he had split with model girlfriend Jessica Grist, following an on-off seven-year relationship.
He says: “The challenge is, people like storytelling from me, the love stuff, but it’s trying to work out how I can dress it up in a cooler way.
“I put a lot of myself into the music, a lot of my story, but the hope is it will help other people too.
“I’ve never wanted to involve people in my personal life, even though I know it comes with the territory, but I’m fine about putting myself out there.
“I’m a big ambassador for mental health.
“Uncomfortable as it makes me feel to talk about my personal struggles, I’ve seen how helpful it can be so I’ll continue to do it, whether through music or interviews.”
He is also now more personally responsible for his output than ever – analysing every detail before its release and then watching intently to gauge reaction.
He tells me: “As I get older, I’m in my thirties now, I enjoy the ride a bit more. I’m a bit more in control of it.
“There are a lot of deliberations. This song September is one where I teased a bit of it on TikTok, which is a great tool just to get a sense of, ‘Is this as good as I think it is?’
“But I am making a bit of a transition stylistically. I’ve made an album that sonically is coherent — something you couldn’t say about a couple of my others, where there were a lot of different styles. I guess I’m finally confident enough to go my own way.”
As one of the nicest blokes in the game, here’s hoping fans find it worth the wait.
Maya all set for sun
Maya Jama had me as green as her outfit after revealing she is hoping to take two months off.
The telly host wore this floaty look while doing a job in central London – and she has got work planned for every day of June so she can take a break for the rest of the summer.
Maya, who will co-host Crouchy’s Year Late Euros: Live from 10.55pm with Peter Crouch on BBC1 on Friday, said on Instagram: “I did mention a little while ago that I wanted to have quite a lot of time off this summer.
“I want most of July and August off, so to do that, June is packed with everything.
“It basically starts today, every day work, which is going to be fantastic.
“I do actually love working as well though – don’t get it twisted. I enjoy it, my job is fun. I just need to let my hair down a bit.”
Don’t we all, dear.
Woo la la Kanye
No matter what you think of Kanye West, you’ve got to admit he’s got swagger.
The US rapper, who is not yet divorced from wife Kim Kardashian, already appears to have moved on with model Irina Shayk.
And the smooth mover is going through his usual romantic motions to make sure Irina, who dated Hollywood actor Bradley Cooper for four years, falls at his feet.
Kanye has got plenty of tricks up his sleeves when it comes to wooing potential partners, and I’ve noticed a pattern over the years.
Even as far back as his relationship with model Amber Rose, which ended in 2010, Kanye always goes all-out when he first falls in love.
The star tends to start off by chartering a private jet and taking his potential partners to France, known as the world’s most romantic country.
Not long after he started dating Kim he flew her to Paris to be with him, and this week he did the same for Victoria’s Secret model Irina, who was pictured with the Touch The Sky star in sunny Provence.
Naturally, if Kanye stays true to form, Russian beauty Irina can expect some pretty pricey gifts next – as the extravagant rapper is renowned for dishing out lavish presents, with Kim receiving millions of pounds worth of diamonds and thousands of roses during their relationship.
But while it’s all rosy now, Kanye by his own admission has a very large ego, and any woman who takes him on should be commended for their bravery, above anything else.
Speaking of what he looks for in a woman, Kanye once said: “I feel like the type of girl I would be with is a fellow superhero.
“So we get that ‘already flying and now we’re just flying together’ thing.”
Buckle up, Irina – it’s going to be a wild ride.
Rob’s footie feud
Commentator Robbie Savage has revealed he’s harbouring a secret feud with a fellow BBC pundit, after he took a pop at him during his playing days.
In an exclusive chat, Robbie said: “It’s amazing to see a few people have a go at me for my punditry.
“I remember one very good footballer I was friends with. We used to have dinner together. And one Saturday I had a go at him on TV and he never spoke to me again.
“And now he is a pundit and I’ve seen him analyse games in a negative way. It happens – you can’t be positive all the time.”
Speaking as part of his link-up with official Euro 2020 partner Heineken, the ex-Three Lions star added: “Being a pundit is the second-best job to playing football but you get so much abuse.”
Bono’s dad boring
Bringing Beyonce and Jay Z into your home is probably about as cool as it gets but even Bono couldn’t avoid the “embarrassing dad” label.
The U2 singer overheard his teenage daughter badmouthing him to a pal, saying he was “boring the ar*e off” the superstars, a new book by DJ Christian O’Connell says.
Writing in his memoir, No One Listens to Your Dad’s Show, Christian said of the time at Bono’s Dublin home: “Bono went to get some more wine, and on the way he happened to overhear his 15-year-old daughter on the phone.
“And word for word, this is what she was saying, ‘Yeah, Dad’s in there now, boring the ar*e off them about Third World debt.’
Then Bono told me, ‘The thing was, I was boring the ar*e off them about Third World debt.’”
There’s no hope for us dads.
Ed start for new track
Ed Sheeran has picked Radio 1 to premiere his first solo single in four years – in exactly two weeks’ time.
The superstar will appear on the station’s breakfast show with Greg James on June 25 to play his new music and give an interview.
He did the same thing with Nick Grimshaw in 2017 on the day he premiered hit singles Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill.
Ed will talk about his new track and play a game of Unpopular Opinion, where guests voice their most controversial views. Can’t imagine it will be too shocking.
Elton on Brexit
Sir Elton John swapped his piano for politics yesterday and took aim at the Brexit deal – claiming it could be “catastrophic” for the live music industry.
The music legend’s issue is with new travel rules which means there is no guarantee of visa-free travel for musicians in Europe.
Elton said the deal risked damaging the chances of up-and-coming musical talent in the UK and admitted his career would have been affected if these rules had been in place when he was starting out.
In a statement, read out in a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing, Sir Elton added: “Put bluntly, we are currently in grave danger of losing a generation of talent.”
JESSIE J is back today with her first new music in almost three years – a single called I Want Love.
It leads an array of new releases which includes Hull-born singer Calum Scott’s song Biblical.
And just in time for dancefloors to potentially reopen, Raye has released her floor-filler Call On Me while drag queen Jodie Harsh has put out the equally upbeat No Sleep.
Paris & Petras
Pop star Kim Petras says Paris Hilton will feature on her debut album – four years after appearing in her first music video, for I Don’t Want It At All.
Kim, who is currently completing the as-yet untitled record, said: “Paris is like my fairy godmother.
Piers helped Kate Garraway through Derek’s Covid battle with Churchill quotes
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“When I had no followers and no big video budget for my first single, and I had nothing out, she said she would be in my first video . . . she’s actually featuring on my album. She’ll be singing.”
The Malibu singer is Glamour UK’s cover star for its Pride issue and told the mag: “I’m proud to be a transgender woman. And I think that’s what Pride is all about.
“Just celebrating how far the LGBTQ+ community has come as a whole. And then also celebrating your personal journey.”