Two months after denying he was dropped by Syco Music, "The X Factor" U.K. 2012 winner James Arthur has confirmed reports that he is no longer with Syco, the record company co-owned by Simon Cowell and Sony Music. Arthur won the record deal as part of "The X Factor" grand prize. On June 11, 2014, Arthur tweeted: "Just to clear things up - I am no longer with Syco. I would like to thank all at the label for making a great record with me."
An unnamed source at Syco told the Daily Mirror: "We have basically taken the decision not to take up the option of another album. James’ record sales were good but he has become a liability and he didn’t listen to anyone. He was told a few days ago and has now obviously made the news public himself. It is a shame this has happened but he hasn't helped himself."
According to The Sun, Syco objected to lyrics in a couple of songs that Arthur plans to put on his rap EP, which is titled "All The World’s a Stage." The EP (which was released on May 14, 2014) is a musical departure for Arthur, who usually performs pop/rock music.
The questionable lyrics in the song "Follow the Leader" are: “Look at what you do to me, I’m crying over stupid sh*t, you’re such a f*cking homophobe, wish I’d never let you in, to think that I was thinking maybe I should let you live, I’m gonna blow up your family like I’m a terrorist.”
In another song, Arthur reportedly has these lyrics: “I can smoke my weed, you can drink rosé, all day.”
It has been obvious that Arthur's relationship with Cowell and Syco has been rocky for quite some time. Cowell told Metro in a March 2014 interview: "I think James, unfortunately, has had so many issues with what he has done publicly – which is a real issue with me. Somebody should have told him to shut up and just put the records out."
Arthur then responded via Twitter: "@SimonCowell I should 'shut up and put out records' or else this? Cue more media bullying."
There were rumors that Arthur was parodied as the villainous hunchback character Trevor Modo in "The X Factor" stage musical "I Can't Sing!" However, Cowell tweeted a denial on March 31, 2014: "For the record no character in I Can't Sing is based on James Arthur. Have no idea where that came from." ("I Can't Sing!," which opened at the London Palladium in London on March 26, 2014 got great reviews but was a sale flop: The show closed early in May 2014, due to low ticket sales.)
Arthur parting ways with Syco is not that much of a surprise, considering the controversies that he's been embroiled in since he rose to fame in 2012.
As previously reported, Arthur gave an angry rant complaining about "The X Factor" and Syco Music.
According to a Daily Mirror report published on March 8, 2014, Arthur (who is 26) said in a March 2014 interview on the Polish TV show "Interia" that "The X Factor" and Syco Music make the male "X Factor" winners into karaoke puppets: “I have people telling me what I can and can’t do, what music I can and can’t make. People who aren’t artists don’t think about creativity and art, they think about money. When you find fame or you get signed to a record label, it’s not what you imagined, because you imagined they would have 100 percent trust or faith in you as an artist. Unfortunately, that’s not really the case. It’s what sells ...
“Having watched 'X Factor' over the years, they just haven’t got it right. The male winners haven’t been believable. They look like puppets, they sound like puppets. I happen to agree with a lot of people who say it’s like karaoke. I’ve done it myself watching the show over the years and saying, ‘I’ve seen better down my local pub.’ Unfortunately, there’s a f*ckload of karaoke singers in the world and all they can do is make them look like good karaoke singers.”
"The X Factor" U.K. 2010 winner Matt Cardle began speaking out against "The X Factor" around the time that Cardle's first album, "Letters," was released in October 2011. In May 2012, Syco Music/Sony Music dropped Cardle, who has since been releasing his music independently.
Before Arthur auditioned for "The X Factor," he also released music independently. His angry comments about "The X Factor" and Syco Music are among the many rants that Arthur has given since he found fame on "The X Factor."
Since 2012, he has been involved in several public feuds (mostly on Twitter), and he got an immense amount of backlash from the public for his rudeness and insulting behavior, including calling rapper Micky Worthless a homophobic name. Arthur has since made public apologies for his offensive behavior,
In November 2013, Arthur (who has admitted in interviews that he has a history of depression and suicide attempts) cancelled his public appearances for a few weeks, reportedly because he had a meltdown. His representatives said it was "exhaustion," but his sister Sian told the Sunday People that Arthur had a nervous breakdown, and he blamed his sudden fame for the nervous breakdown.
Arthur also announced in November 2013 that he was quitting Twitter and letting his management team tweet on his behalf. But as many people predicted, Arthur changed his mind, and he returned to Twitter in January 2014.
Arthur's first single, a cover version of Shontelle's "Impossible," was an international smash, by reaching the Top 5 in several countries. (It was No. 1 in the U.K., where Arthur's version of "Impossible" was the fastest-selling single of 2012.) Arthur's self-titled debut album, released in November 2013, debuted at No. 2 in the U.K., where it has gone gold. The album was a Top 40 hit in other countries, such as France, Australia, New Zealand and Germany.
Although Arthur launched a successful European tour in 2014, his music sales have been on a decline. After "Impossible," his other singles released so far in chronological order are "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You" (which was a No. 2 hit in the U.K.), "Recovery" (which reached No. 18 in the U.K.) and "Get Down," which flopped at No. 96 in the U.K.
Arthur certainly wasn't complaining about "The X Factor" and Syco Music when his music sales were at their peak. But now that his music sales are on a downward spiral, he's doing some very public "biting the hand that feeds him." And he's the one who signed up to audition for "The X Factor," knowing that he would have to do "karaoke" on TV. This "karaoke" format (which Arthur says he dislikes) has been part of "The X Factor" since the beginning, so Arthur, as a longtime "X Factor" viewer, knew what he was getting into when he signed up to be on the show. Is he going to give back the money that he's made from his "X Factor" fame? Of course not. That's what makes his rants hypocritical.
All of the previous male winners of "The X Factor" U.K. have been dropped from Sony Music, and now Arthur has now joined that list, which includes Cardle, Steve Brookstein (winner in 2004), Shayne Ward (winner in 2005), Leon Jackson (winner in 2007) and Joe McElderry (winner in 2009).
As for the female "X Factor" U.K. winners, some of them have also left Syco, but their departure seems to have been more of a mutual decision. Leona Lewis (winner in 2006) left Syco in 2014 and is now signed to Island Records. Alexandra Burke (winner in 2008) split from Syco in 2011, and later signed with Sony Music's RCA Records. She parted ways with RCA/Sony in 2013 and is seeking another record deal.
As of now, there are only two "X Factor" U.K. winners signed to Syco: the girl group Little Mix (winner in 2011) and female singer Sam Bailey (winner in 2013).
But maybe being dropped by Syco what Arthur wants since he seems to think it is hurting his "artistic credibility" to be an "X Factor" singer who won a recording contract. For every winner of "The X Factor" who complains about the show and how the winners are marketed, there are thousands more aspiring singers who would jump at the chance to be one of the show's winners and make the most of the resulting prizes and opportunities without looking like an ungrateful complainer.
In addition to having mental-health issues, Arthur has publicly confessed that he engages in illegal drug taking. Arthur has admitted that he smokes marijuana to help him cope with stress.
Several media outlets, including the Daily Mirror, have reported that an unknown but significant number of people who bought Arthur's self-titled album have requested refunds because they are offended by his combative behavior.
In April 2014, Arthur denied that he was dropped by Syco Music or Sony Music. In a Twitter message that has since been deleted, Arthur commented: "As far as I know I am still with syco but I am exclusively signed to Sony."
Arthur also took to Twitter to explain the "Follow the Leader" song lyrics. He tweeted on April 4, 2014: "For anybody who is confused by the lyrics in the 'follow the leader' teaser.. The song is from the point of view of demented fan hence the homophobe reference and the aggressive tone.. In the story the fan turns on me.. Can't wait for you to hear it in context!"
On April 5, 2014, Arthur tweeted: "The song 'follow the leader' from the mixtape is not promoting terrorism, it's a story, a reciting of a Stan Esc letter from a demented fan. Just for the record.'
As previously reported, Arthur's "All the World's a Stage" got mostly positive reviews from fans. Arthur has not yet announced his plans for his next album