That, the singer-songwriter says now, was part of the problem.
“When I was firing away on Twitter no one was calling me up to say: ‘You’re wrecking your career’. Arthur was a heavy cannabis smoker from a young age.
“Maybe it was bad for her image to be seen with me.
I was a little bitter about that because she’d said she had a lot of feelings for me.” In a rap debuted on Radio 1Xtra he said: “‘Some people’s auras [ie, Ora’s] and demeanours can deceive us, what they really want is a piece of your penis’. “It was wordplay.” Then, more accusations — that he was glorifying terrorism in another rap track, Follow the Leader. “The song was written from the perspective of a deranged fan who was saying, ‘I’m gonna blow up your family like a terrorist’.” Whatever the intentions, the result was simple: Arthur became public enemy No 1, going from hero to zero in lightning-quick time.
There was a series of controversies and fights, many of them conducted via the warping prism of social media.
Somebody should have told him to shut up and just put the records out,” he said.And just moving on.” There’s a lot to move on from.Arthur’s music career imploded almost as soon as he released his debut album in November 2013.“He sent a really sincere, nice text — ‘Well done James. James Andrew Arthur (born 2 March 1988) is an English singer-songwriter, rapper and guitarist from Middlesborough who won Series 9 of The X Factor.But I was very drunk, stoned, it was all off the top of my head … I thought: ‘There’s no coming back from this’.” But just in case there was a way back, Arthur continued to self-sabotage.And I was so eager to get it out there that I just rhymed whatever I could think of and pressed send.” He winces and rubs his thick but neatly manicured beard. He was accused of kissing and telling after the end of a relationship with Rita Ora.His little sister and his girlfriend, who he met on the set of one of his videos, stood by him. He began writing the songs that would become his new album. Sony Germany had come on board early — Arthur did well in Europe, where maybe his social media beefs and tabloid spats didn’t translate — and, last month, they released his comeback single. So I thought, ‘Let’s do the full circle’.” Arthur is engaging and thoughtful, and clearly repentant. “He already thinks I’m odd.” When Cowell texted his No 1 congratulations two days later, Arthur sent a one-word reply: “Thanks.” He chuckles. I’m good at social media now,” he concludes with a rueful smile.By simple dint of it being a great song — there was no promotion and no airplay — Say You Won’t Let Go rapidly climbed the charts. He’s happy to own up to his missteps, and to speak about his troubles, and he’s now an ambassador for the mental-health charity Sane. I’m looking forward to helping with the campaigning.” He’s justifiably proud of being able to come back, and to do so in the right way: with music that’s resonating. And I thought: ‘Simon likes it when people are a bit cocky’. He said: ‘James, you’ve got to go away and out-Ed Sheeran Ed Sheeran’. Speaking exclusively to the Evening Standard in his management office in Great Portland Street two days before his top-secret performance, Arthur recalled in detail his meltdowns and the drug dependencies and mental-health issues that accompanied them.And he described his nerves on entering once again the nation’s prime-time living room.