will.i.am warns against too much “politeness”

The Voice UK coach will.i.am has blamed too much “politeness” for the lack of chart-topping stars to come out of television singing contests.

The rapper and producer said talented singers he mentors on the ITV show rarely take him up on his offers of career help and urged them to be more “aggressive”.

His comments came as he prepares to return to the panel and face a fresh bunch of budding musicians on The Voice UK’s 2018 series, kicking off this weekend.

He will be joined by returning coaches Sir Tom Jones and Jennifer Hudson, as well as newcomer Olly Mur – who told us he feels like a naughty school kid on the show – and regular presenter Emma Willis.

Speaking at a launch event for the show, the 42-year-old said: “I’ve tried to keep in contact with the people that were on my team, but they are really polite.

“They say ‘I don’t want to bug you, I know you’re busy’, but if I was them I wouldn’t be that polite.

“Part of the reason why there’s no star is because people are just really polite.

“Folks that have careers have been really aggressive and they make sure they fight for the right songs… to do that you have to be a predator, and predators aren’t polite.

“Imagine you go to the jungle and you see a lion going up to a gazelle and going, ‘Hey, do you mind if I just eat you?’. It doesn’t happen that way, you have to really hunt and be aggressive about getting your dream.

will.i.am, Jennifer Hudson, Sir Tom Jones and Olly Murs get ready for another series of The Voice UK (Ian West/PA)
will.i.am, Jennifer Hudson, Sir Tom Jones and Olly Murs get ready for another series of The Voice UK (Ian West/PA)

“I am comfortable giving them my (personal) number and my email, because when I tell them to call me, they don’t call. It’s the same everywhere.”

He cited his colleagues, the Academy Award, Grammy and Bafta-winning Jennifer, who rose to fame after coming 7th in the 2004 season of American Idol, and chart-topping Olly, who missed out on the X Factor victory in 2008, as examples of artists who prove “what a loser can look like”.

Sir Tom, whose award-winning career spans five decades, added that aggression in the music industry is becoming increasingly important.

“They have to want this more than anything else,” he said of contestants past and future.

“More so now than years ago because the competition is greater, and they have to be able to say ‘I’m going to make it and I’m going to do everything I possibly can to do it’.

“We’ve got to help instil that in them because this is not the only show in town. The Voice is a great showcase (but then) you’ve got to be confident within yourself if you want this to last for the rest of your life.”

The Voice UK returns to ITV at 8pm on Saturday.