James Arthur: ‘The last three years have felt like a prison sentence’

'X Factor' star discusses his chart-topping comeback in a new interview

Resurgent X Factor star James Arthur has likened the last three years of his life to a “prison sentence”.

The Middlesbrough-born singer won the ninth series of ITV’s long-running talent contest in 2012, then saw his debut single ‘Impossible’ reach Number One. Both follow-up single ‘You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You’ and Arthur’s self-titled debut album peaked at Number Two the following year.

However, Arthur later established a reputation as something of a loose cannon and was forced to apologise after using homophobic lyrics in a diss track aimed at a rapper called Micky Worthless. He was subsequently dropped from Simon Cowell‘s label Syco Records.


Now re-signed to Syco, Arthur’s comeback single ‘Say You Won’t Let It Go’ has spent two weeks at Number One and he has announced a new album, ‘Back From The Edge’, due on October 28, as well as UK tour dates.

“For the past three years, I’ve felt like I’ve been on a bit of a prison sentence,” the singer told FAULT. “Suffering from all kinds of mental health issues, wondering whether or not I’d come back and make any kind of a splash. I just wanted to make something honest. As long as I made something honest, hopefully it was going to connect and apparently it has.”

Recalling what drove him back into the recording studio, Arthur added: “I felt I had so much unfinished business. That actually made me go back into it. ‘Cause I felt like I couldn’t wallow in self-pity forever. I can’t beat myself up forever.”

“It got to a point where I was like ‘I can’t do this anymore; I need to create something in order to make myself feel better,”” he continued. “And that’s how it started; it was like ‘I have to prove to myself first and foremost that I’m able to create something honest.’ Once I did that, once I started to do it, it came easy to me and everything just felt so real.”

Arthur spoke candidly about his mental health issues in a previous interview with The Sun, saying: “My lowest moment was when I was going to bed, I’d take 15 pre-rolled joints and smoke one after the other, popping anti-depressants. My head was an absolute mess.”