Olly Murs comes to Yorkshire next week

Five albums in, Olly Murs is among Britain's most successful solo stars. Ahead of his forthcoming visit to Yorkshire, he talks to Andy Welch.

Ever since Olly Murs first appeared on The X Factor, singing Stevie Wonder’s Superstition and dancing away, he’s become a sort of cheeky crown prince.

Even a gaff-prone stint presenting the show that made him a star couldn’t dent his career, and, from the outside at least, he’s barely changed since that fateful night in 2009, when he first took to the stage.

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He is much more successful, however, and while he didn’t win the talent show, his career has outshone those of victorious Joe McElderry and fellow runner-up Stacey Solomon.

“I’d like to think I am still like that,” says Murs. “I’d like to think people’s perception of me is accurate. I know I’m a pop star - and I hate that word but that’s what I am - but I am just a normal guy, down to earth. I still live in Essex with my family, go to watch football with my mates, go out on the weekend and do all those normal things.”

Murs split with his long-term girlfriend, Francesca Thomas, towards the end of 2015 and being single certainly informed the songs on his most-recent album, 24 Hrs, released late last year. While the songs are largely as upbeat and danceable as much of his back catalogue, there’s plenty of heartbreak if you delve below the top-line melody.

“We’d just broken up when I started writing 24 Hrs. I wasn’t up for talking about it, but I did want to write about that,” the 32-year-old admits. “I didn’t feel like I had happy, fun songs in me. I wanted people to hear my anger, sadness and loneliness. Eventually, that went, but I was still writing, so that’s when the fun songs started coming out again. I was single and I was going out.”

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Despite his bachelor status, it’s unlikely Murs will be doing much romancing while he’s on the road. HIs tour starts in Glasgow on Friday and he is playing two dates at Sheffield Arena and one at Leeds First Direct Arena next week.

“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned after touring for years is not to go out drinking after a show. I can’t do it. I’ve tried over the years, but no, it’s not for me. Now I’m single, that’ll be harder. This is the first tour where I’ve been single in a while, so it’ll be harder to stay professional, but I will.”

Given his success - he has album sales of more than 11 million - you might think Murs would have been a shoo-in for a Brit or two this year. Things looked good for him when he was scheduled to perform at the nominations event, but days before, he pulled out.

“Everyone else on the bill was nominated, and I wasn’t,” he says. “I don’t think I deserved a nomination, but everyone else performing had one, so it felt wrong and that’s why I didn’t do it. I hate it that people think I thought I deserved a nomination, or was demanding one or something,” he notes. “Don’t let me get up there and sing if I’m not nominated and everyone else is.

“There’s no doubt I was disappointed not to get the nomination.”