Like many an X Factor fan this year, I had really hoped Olly Murs would walk away with the winning prize. An effortlessly charming performer and utterly likeable he seemed to combine the best of both worlds while being neither overhyped (Danyl) or twee (Joe).
When he didn’t win I was disappointed. But as JLS have proven you don’t have to win a TV talent show to do big things after it. So should things go his way there is little to say Olly Murs can’t do the same.
But why are we talking about Olly you may ask? Well because I got to interview him! Vodafone brought Olly in yesterday to cheer us all up with some knitting. Yeah you heard me right. Vodafone have taken over 11 Grafton St for the next few days for a pop up boutique that will offer knitting lessons to encourage budding “ knitanistas”.
This ties rather neatly with the new Vodafone top up deal with extra credit being given to those who top up throughout January. With 20% extra for 20euro top up, 30% for 30, 40% for 40 (you get the idea) this is one of the better post Xmas deals I’ve spotted.
Anyway with all that in mind what about Mr Murs? In our brief chat we got to discss a variety of topics. We started by exchanging our Stacey impressions. Honestly. This got me wondering if Olly missed the house and what it was like. I don’t know about you but I always thought it seemed like where all the really fun stuff was happening on the show.
“The house was good fun” Olly admits, “It was huge. And as everyone started leaving it got even worse. It was really eerie. It was like “who’s downstairs?” No-one!” You walk down the stairs, you expect the Jedward twins to be in there performing but they weren’t”
Now that was a mental image I couldn’t get enough of (I as have previously noted, love the rather unhinged energy of the Jedward boys!) so we got chatting about how the Lucan lads rehearsed themselves silly…
“Jedward had the main living room” Olly notes “They’d clear all the sofas to one side and do all their routines, their Ghostbuster routines, their Whams and they used to sit there and just drill it.”
At this point Olly launches into a scarily good Jedward impression: “John was like “Edward come on, come on, its like seven o clock at night we’re going to rehearse until, like, one in the morning. We’re going to eat cereal with water all the time!” I know. I know. Cereal. With. Water. That is the source of their energy. Imagine.
Olly reckons it paid off for the lads though: “That’s why their performances were so good, they were the hardest working. Me and Jedward were the hardest working in terms of routines. We worked our arses off every week. It was a shame when they went because the house wasn’t the same. They were just great to be around and just really good kids.”
But enough about Jedward. Olly talks about fondly about coming over here, his second time in a crazy post show schedule that has seen him do
“20 gigs over 21 days”, sell out shows in Wales that saw him playing to 4,000 people and watching “girls faint at some of the gigs” ( “Its like Beatlemania, its ridiculous!” He exclaims).
You can’t help but think Olly’s distinct and sharp look of tailored suits, neat fits and spot on fashion choices has helped a little bit. During our chat I get a real sense of his fashion know how. He name checks a number of labels and knows what works for him.
“I’m very much a mod indie kind of person” he says “so I like wearing stuff that’s very modern at the moment and that’s my look”. Olly cites vintage fashion wonder Farah and high street darling All Saints as among his favourites. And Fred Perry unsurprisingly, given how he rocked it during the live shows, crops up as a favourite. In fact he rather excitedly mentions a visit to the Fred Perry showrooms when he leaves Dublin that he has clearly been looking forward to.
Olly may have kept his cool in the style stakes but I couldn’t help but wonder if the parade of big names that passed through the show this year (we’re talking Whitney, Mariah, Robbie Williams to name a few) phased him at all. It seems not even being the same room as Whitney Houston was enough to stop him in his tracks. “I just done it” he says “and got on with it. For me it was like “The X Factor is the The X Factor, you have to sing in front of all of these people, this is it.”
He does point out that “meeting Whitney Houston, she was different to other people, I didn’t feel the closeness there was with the other mentors but she was still nice, she still said hello, she still listened to what I had to sing. She respected me and I respected her.” And as for his new celeb bestie Robbie Williams, he says that he now has his phone number and that he “text him over Christmas to wish him a good new year and Christmas”. Talk about living the life.
But even Mr Cool couldn’t stop himself being impressed with bumping into Sir Paul McCartney. When he told Olly he was a fan of his performance of the Beatles classic “Come Together” Olly found himself saying “Paul, you’re talking to me?” It’s a moment like this that makes Olly even more likeable. Throughout the interview I’m taken aback by how slick Olly is. He brings up Vodafone with ease and no point feels like a guy who this time last month had never spent a day doing press. But his obvious delight at getting a compliment from such a big star is palpable and endearing.
Still there is the small matter of the forthcoming X Factor tour, a now traditional event for the finalists, that will see them all take to the stage at arenas across the UK and Ireland next month. Olly is clearly excited about this when it comes up “We do our rehearsals at the start of February” he says and is eager to include songs he did on the show, including his favourite “A Fool For Love” which he thinks is “a brilliant song” that “kick started my X Factor journey.”
He promises “lots of dancers” for the show which can only mean a return to the big numbers that saw him do so well during his run. His obvious excitement about getting to do a show which he “might not ever get the opportunity” to do again is written all over his face and you just know that when he takes to stage for each night that the fans will get what they came for.
You can never quite predict how a reality TV contestant will do after a show like this but you can’t help but hope for the best for Olly. After hanging out with him briefly his charm and drive are obvious and if ever there was a guy who could make it as a popstar post X-Factor on their own terms its this guy. Until then at least he can content himself with some Fred Perry swag and a crash course in knitting courtesy of Vodafone.