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James Arthur

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For other people named James Arthur, see James Arthur (disambiguation).
James Arthur
James Arthur NRJ 2014.jpg
Arthur at the NRJ Music Awards 2014
Background information
Born (1988-03-02) 2 March 1988 (age 28)
Middlesbrough, England, UK
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 2005–present
Labels Syco (2012–14), Columbia (2015–)

James Andrew Arthur (born 2 March 1988)[1] is a British singer-songwriter who won the ninth series of The X Factor in 2012. His debut single, "Impossible", was released through Syco Music after the final and debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart in its first week of release. It has since gone on to sell over 1,289,000 copies in the UK,[2] and 2.5 million copies worldwide.[3] He released his self-titled debut album in November 2013 and it debuted and peaked at number two on the UK Albums Chart.

Just weeks after the release of his debut album, Arthur used a homophobic slur to describe another musician. This led to iTunes offering refunds for the album.[4] After this, Arthur parted ways with Syco. In 2015, he signed a new deal with Columbia Records and will release his second album in 2016.

Early life[edit]

Arthur was born in Middlesbrough,[5] to an English mother, Shirley Ashworth, and a Scottish father, Neil Arthur.[6] Neil is a delivery driver, but also used to be a DJ and drummer for many years, whilst Shirley was a fashion model and later a sales and marketing professional.[7] Neil and Shirley split up when James was one year old and each settled with new partners a few years after their divorce. They hardly spoke with one another for more than 20 years, but they agreed to attend James's audition together in a family reunion to support him.[8]

Arthur first went to Ings Farm Primary School in Redcar, North Yorkshire. When he was nine, he moved with his mother Shirley and his stepfather Ronald Rafferty to Bahrain where he studied at the local British School of Bahrain for four years. When they split, James, then 14, moved back to the UK with his mother Shirley and his three sisters Sian, Jasmin and Neve to live on the Coast Road in Redcar.[9][10][11] Upon his return, he continued his studies at Ryehills School in Redcar.[12]

Arthur has four sisters and one brother.[12]


Early years[edit]

Arthur has been writing and recording songs since he was 15 as an unsigned artist both solo and in many bands[13][14] including:

  • Moonlight Drive[15] – a Cleveland-based progressive, experimental, rock five-piece band with Arthur in lead vocals. The band was active between 2005 and 2008. It had recordings such as "Said You'd Be There", "Hole in My Heart" and "Tear Me Apart".
  • Cue the Drama[16] – an alternative rock band based in Marske-by-the-Sea and active between 2005 and 2008. Recordings included "On the Radio 98KUPD", "It's Killing Me", "I'll Reach You" and "It Hurts".
  • Save Arcade[17] – a Middlesbrough alternative rock band made up of Arthur (vocals, guitar), Josh Brown (keyboards, vocals), Matthew Green (guitar), Alex Beer (bass, vocals), Travis Shaw (guitar, percussions, vocals) and Karl Dowson (drums). In 2009, the band released a three-track EP called Truth, carrying the title track "The Truth", as well as "Echoes" and "I Un-Proudly Present". In June 2010, the band released a five-track EP, Tonight We Dine in Hades, which in addition to the title track "Tonight We Dine in Hades" included "Superhero", "You Always Want a Fight", "Juliet Is Not Dead" and "She Aims to Please". Both releases were on the independent 57 Records UK.
  • Emerald Skye[18] – a four-piece indie pop/rock band formed in March 2011 based in Redcar / Saltburn-by-the-Sea and made up of Arthur (guitar, vocals), Dean Harrison (piano, violin), Paul Gill (bass) and Save Arcade bandmate Green (drums).

Arthur also uploaded many of his own songs to SoundCloud and YouTube, as well as an album entitled Sins by the Sea.[13][19][20] In 2011, he auditioned for The Voice UK and made it into the final 200 contestants but no further.[21]

In early 2012, he recorded songs and released two EPs as The James Arthur Band.[22][23][24] The band consisted of Arthur (vocals and guitar), Jez Taylor (guitar), Chris Smalls (keyboards), Jordan Swain (drums) and Rich Doney (bass). In 2012, the band released The EP Collection CD with nine tracks with R&B, soul and hip hop influences, a compilation of tracks on both EPs. Arthur also released an EP named Hold On under the name The James Arthur Project in August 2012 in collaboration with John McGough.[25][26][27] The tracks were written and arranged by McGough, and mixed by Matt Wanstall with all vocals by Arthur.

2012: The X Factor[edit]

In 2012, Arthur auditioned for The X Factor in Newcastle. He performed an acoustic rendition of judge Tulisa Contostavlos's "Young", before explaining his past, including a short spell in respite foster care and time spent in flats and bedsits after break-ups within his family. He also revealed his father and mother had hardly spoken to each other for over 20 years, and this was a reunion of sorts for them to attend his audition. He sang "A Million Love Songs" at bootcamp and was chosen as one of six contestants in the "Boys" category to advance to judges' houses. From this point onward, Arthur was mentored by Nicole Scherzinger. After his judges' houses performance of "I Can't Make You Love Me", he was picked as one of 12 contestants to advance to the live shows, and one of three in the "Boys" category.

After his second live performance, Arthur suffered from an anxiety attack backstage. Whilst being treated at the studio, paramedics determined he did not need to go to hospital, and he was ordered back to his hotel to rest. He later returned for the results show the following night.[28] After his performance of LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" on the third live show on 20 October, Arthur was accused of plagiarism. His rendition was very similar to the rendition by YouTube star only1Noah,[29] which was uploaded on 9 May 2012 and had over 13 million views at the time.[30] However, Arthur later tweeted: "Btw doesn't everyone know I was putting a spin on Noah's version? It had 13.something million hits! Was I supposed to state the obvious?"[31][32] In week 7, after performing "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", Arthur was controversially in the bottom two. He sang "Fallin'" for survival against fellow favourite Ella Henderson, with the judges going to deadlock after their vote was evenly split 2–2 (mentor Scherzinger and Gary Barlow voting to keep him, while Contostavlos and Louis Walsh voted in favour of Henderson). Arthur was then saved by the public vote. On 8 December, he made it through to the second night of the live finals.

Arthur won The X Factor on 9 December 2012, with 53.7% of the final vote, against Jahméne Douglas who received 38.9%.[33][34][35] This made him the first and only winner of the show to have been in the bottom two.

2013–14: James Arthur[edit]

James Arthur at a book signing session at WHSmith in Middlesbrough on the 9 January 2013.

Following his victory, Arthur's winner's song, a cover of Shontelle's "Impossible", was released as a charity single for Together for Short Lives.[36] It became the fastest-selling The X Factor winner's single so far, reaching 255,000 downloads within 48 hours and over 490,000 by the end of the week.[37] The single topped the UK Singles Chart in its first week of release.[38][39][40] After 11 days, it was the seventh biggest-selling debut single from any contestant from The X Factor, with sales of 622,000.[41] In its second week the single dropped to number two,[42] but reclaimed the number one spot in its third week, and stayed at the top for a further week.[43] After three weeks, it was the fifth best-selling single of 2012 with 897,000 copies sold.[44] After four weeks it had sold 971,000 copies.[45] As of 11 January 2013, the single has sold more than 1 million copies.[46] The song also peaked at number one in Ireland, two in Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland, and eight in Slovakia.[47][48][49][50] As of August 2013, the single has sold 1.2 million copies, 30,000 fewer than Alexandra Burke's version of "Hallelujah".[51]

On 7 August 2013, Arthur announced via Twitter that his next single would be called "You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You",[52] which was released to UK radio stations on 9 September 2013. The song was officially released worldwide on 20 October 2013 and debuted at number two in the UK, falling just behind Lorde's "Royals". Arthur's self-titled debut studio album, James Arthur, was released on 4 November 2013. The album charted in at number two behind Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2.[53]

Arthur at the NRJ Music Awards 2014

In November 2013, Arthur generated much controversy over the use of homophobic lyrics in a song. Directed at rapper Micky Worthless, the lyrics included several slurs including the term "you fucking queer". This sparked outrage among the LGBT community and led to Twitter spats with comedians Frankie Boyle and Matt Lucas, and singer Lucy Spraggan.[54] Arthur immediately apologised for his comments and claimed that he was not homophobic. Following this he announced that he would not be posting on Twitter anymore, with his management taking up control of his page.[55] The backlash continued, however, with a Facebook campaign to see his upcoming appearance on The X Factor be cancelled. iTunes offered refunds for his album due to complaints from customers.[56]

After Arthur switched on the Christmas lights in Manchester on 8 November, Manchester City Council said that he would have been replaced if the controversy had happened earlier.[57] On 22 November, Arthur's management announced that the singer would be cancelling all public engagements for the next seven days due to exhaustion.[58] Singer Olly Murs came to Arthur's defence,[59] but said later that he was not defending the choice of lyrics.[55]

"Recovery" was released as the album's third single on 15 December[60] and debuted at number 19 on the UK Singles Chart. On 14 January 2014, Arthur confirmed on Twitter that "Get Down" will be the fourth single released from his debut album.[61] On 5 January 2014, Arthur began embarking on his debut headlining tour, the James Arthur Tour, a 37-date tour around Europe.

2014–present: Leaving Syco and second album[edit]

On 5 April 2014, several media outlets began to report that Arthur had been dropped from Syco, following a dispute regarding a song entitled, "Follow the Leader".[62][63] He took to Twitter to deny the claims,[64] however on 11 June 2014, Arthur announced via Twitter that he and Syco had parted ways by mutual agreement. Arthur released a mixtape called All the World's a Stage on 16 May 2014.[65]

During the summer of 2014, Arthur stated that he was working on his second album and was close to signing a new record deal. He is set to perform at V Festival.[66] On 19 October, Arthur released a collaboration with UK producer Rymez entitled "Kryptonite"; the song entered the iTunes top 150 on pre-orders alone.[67] On 22 April 2015, Arthur unveiled a demo track titled "Promise" on YouTube that is thought to be on his second album.[68] He embarked on "The Story So Far Tour" in May 2015.[69] On 6 September, he announced that he had signed with Columbia Records and that a new album was on the way.[70]

On 8 January 2016, Arthur released a new song called "The Truth" on iTunes in the United States.[71] Following the song's release, he took to Twitter and clarified that it will serve as the official theme song of Dr. Jenn Mann's new reality series, Family Therapy, a spinoff of the VH1 reality series, Couples Therapy that will premiere in March,[72] and that it was not the first single from his upcoming second album.[73]

Personal life[edit]

Arthur supports his local football team Middlesbrough F.C. as well as Rangers F.C..[74][75][76] After winning The X Factor, he was invited to return to Bahrain to formally open the British School of Bahrain's music and drama rehearsal studios and the school's 400-seat auditorium, both part of the expansion of the facilities in the school in which he studied for four years. The new studios were completed in 2014.[10]


Concert tours[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organisation Award Work Result
2013 BRIT Awards British Single of the Year[77] "Impossible" Nominated[78]
Los Premios 40 Principales Best International Song Won
NRJ Music Awards International Breakthrough of the Year Won[79]


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  66. ^ "James Arthur on Twitter: ""@babeyjay: @JamesArthur23 what's coming up for you this year? #askjamesarthur" I'll be making the new album, signing new deal.. New start"". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  67. ^ Mieka Smiles (17 October 2014). "Listen: James Arthur's new direction as he teams up with Rymez for latest single". gazettelive. 
  68. ^ James Arthur - Promise (Teaser Demo). YouTube. 22 April 2015. 
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  71. ^ "The Truth - Single by James Arthur on iTunes". iTunes. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  72. ^ "Dina and Michael Lohan Come to Blows Over Lindsay Lohan in 'Family Therapy' Trailer". YouTube, Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  73. ^ Arthur, James (14 January 2016). "Just to be clear this is not the official 1st single from my the album it's only available on US iTunes for now". Twitter. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  74. ^ "Middlesbrough FC manager Tony Mowbray has given his backing to X Factor finalist". Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  75. ^ "Boro's Surprise For James". Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
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  78. ^ Robson, Dave (21 February 2013). "Saltburn singer James Arthur misses out on Brit award". Gazette Live. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Little Mix
Winner of The X Factor
Succeeded by
Sam Bailey