The Voice UK returns this week and there's a new face on the coaching panel in the shape of singer and former X Factor star Olly Murs. Here, he reveals how the competition is already hotting up...
Sounds like new coach Olly Murs is going to be a Troublemaker as The Voice UK returns…
It’s safe to say that Olly Murs knows a thing or two about talent shows. The popular Essex boy shot to fame on the sixth series of The X Factor in 2009, coming runner up to Joe McElderry. Not winning didn’t harm Olly one bit, though. Since then he’s notched up four UK No.1 albums, four No.1 singles and has sold more than 17 million records worldwide. In 2015, he co-hosted The X Factor with Caroline Flack.
So the Troublemaker and Dance With Me Tonight singer has a fair idea of what it takes to be the next big singing star as he take his seat in that big, red spinning chair alongside fellow coaches Sir Tom Jones, Jennifer Hudson and will.i.am when The Voice UK returns this week.
As the stage is set for the blind auditions, Olly, 33, talks getting up to mischief and what he really thinks of The X Factor…
What’s it been like sitting in the big red chair?
“I’m really enjoying sitting in the chair – I feel like I’m in Game of Thrones. It’s a chair that comes with a lot of responsibility; knowing that I’ve got the contestants’ dreams in the palm of my hand and that I can potentially change someone’s life. It’s not a position I’ve ever been in before, so it’s little bit tough but, at the same time, it’s a new job, so I have to rise to the challenge.”
Olly’s loving the power that comes with sitting in that big, red spinning chair
You stood out on The X Factor because of your quirky dancing and cheeky personality as well as your voice. So has it been tricky at the blind auditions having to judge on vocals alone?
“It’s difficult. My career has been built on working the crowd and being an entertainer, dancing and having a unique voice and is probably why I’ve been successful. What I’m looking for is ‘character’ in the voice and I’m really feeding off the energy in the studio; sometimes there’s just a vibe. I’ve got a team full of different ‘characters’ and there are a few that are real entertainers; singers who made the crowd stand up and go ‘Wow!'”
How have you fitted in alongside your fellow coaches Sir Tom Jones, Jennifer Hudson and will.i.am?
“For me, it’s been seamless, I’ve settled in really well. You’ve got Will with his one-liners and his metaphors and his quirky, creative personality, you’ve got Jennifer and Tom with their big voices, then I’m like the naughty school kid on the end! With me, what you see is what you get – I’m just being myself, which is a little bit cheeky, a bit flirty and always trying to have fun. It’s a really good balance, everyone’s getting on well and I’m having a great time.”
They’re all smiles… but it sounds like things are really competitive between the coaches
So no arguments between the coaches yet?
“No, although I don’t completely know who I can trust because they’re all playing a great game. Will’s been psyching me out, getting me to turn sometimes when I was maybe 50/50 or 70/30 for turning. But he’d get in my head, so I’d turn, then I’d wonder: ‘Is he doing that just so I fill my slots?’ Where more than one of us has turned for a singer, I have won a lot of the pitches; I think the singers know I can empathise with them having been on that journey myself. But Will, Tom and Jennifer are so experienced on this show and they all want to win so badly.”
Olly Murs on The X Factor back in 2009
So do you think you have the winner on your team?
“I hope so. There are certainly a few on my team that I can coach to be winners but I definitely think I’m the underdog in this competition. The other coaches are more confident than I am; they’ve pitched hard when they’ve needed to and they’ve got some very good artists. But I’ve said to my team that, even if we are considered the underdogs, I’ve always been an underdog in my career and look how far I’ve come. I think we’ve got a good chance.”
We saw you Tweet about your mum meeting Tom Jones…
“Yeah… She enjoyed it a little bit more than I expected if I’m honest. She went for a kiss and Tom came in with his mouth open and went straight in there for a nice, big, sloppy kiss on the lips! So that was a little bit awkward. But it was great to see my mum so happy to meet Tom and all the coaches were lovely with her.”
According to the tabloids, X Factor boss Simon Cowell is apparently ‘annoyed’ that you’ve signed up to The Voice UK. Have you spoken to him?
“I haven’t, no, so I have no idea if he’s happy or not. I’m so proud of what I did on my X Factor journey from the early days up to now. For me, there’s no bitterness there at all. Deciding to be coach on The Voice was just about me making a selfish decision for my career. Simon knows me and he knows where I am if he wants to speak to me – there is a part of me that hopes he is pleased for me because he’s been a great part of my life and he’s still a great friend.”
ALL ABOUT OLLY MURS
How the other coaches rate Mr Murs…
Sir Tom on Olly…
“Although I’ve met Olly before, I’ve never actually worked with him but he’s fitted in great. There’s no airs and graces with Olly; Some people put up a front on TV but he doesn’t put on a mask at all, he’s a real natural. His mother came up and gave me a big kiss. Olly said: ‘Hey, you kissed her on the lips.’ I replied: ‘No, she kissed ME on the lips!'”
Jennifer on Olly…
“Olly is amazing! There’s a youthful freshness that he brings to the panel and I love his energy; I feel like it’s an energy only he can bring but it definitely lifts things. He’s so entertaining, without realising, and funny as hell. He’s so excited to be part of it, so a few times I’ve been like: ‘Olly, stop hitting that button!’ He’s a bit competitive, too, so I’ll have to look out for that.”
Will on Olly…
“Olly brings a lot of energy and transparency to the panel and doesn’t hold back. Like Jennifer, Olly comes from the position that he was a contestant on a show and, although he didn’t win, he’s still had a healthy career. Me psyching Olly out? I was just getting him to fill up his team quick! It worked but in reverse, in that it made him extra-critical, so he didn’t turn as much.”
The Voice UK returns on Saturday January 6 at 8pm on ITV.