“Right Place Right Time as a title sums up my career to this point. I’ve worked hard in everything I’ve done, doing what’s felt right, and everything has fit into place. It’s the sentiment for this album – a body of work of great pop songs. And I’ve gone in a different place again this time.” Olly Murs
Welcome back to Olly Murs, one of the most successful pop stars of the past decade. In just three years, he’s crafted three albums which have produced four No 1 singles (including the platinum-selling Dance With Me Tonight and latest no.1 smash hit Troublemaker ft. Flo Rida), and a further three Top 20 hits. First album Olly Murs (2010) has gone double-platinum and second album In Case You Didn’t Know (2011) is at almost triple-platinum sales. Along with Ed Sheeran and Example, Olly is the only recent male solo star with a sell-out headline arena tour to his name, as well as becoming a fixture on the main stage of many festivals. His new album Right Place Right Time shot to the top of the albums chart immediately on release – giving Olly the biggest week one sales by a male artist in 2012! Olly also managed the rare feat of being top of the albums and singles chart simultaneously when Troublemaker hit the top spot for a second week.
Olly has just been announced as special guest on Robbie Williams’ European Stadium tour – add that to Olly’s already huge UK arena tour and it’s easy to see that 2013 belongs to him.
You don’t get to be such a phenomenon without knowing how to constantly better yourself – and Olly’s third album Right Place Right Time is a set of 12 songs that improve on the remarkable standard he’s already set. The choruses are even more catchy, the lyrics even more heartfelt…and its classic feel is that of a master singer and songwriter who has the skill to create tunes for anyone of any age. Olly insists “I wanted it to be brilliant throughout, from track to track to track” and he’s achieved that – choosing potential hit singles will be a doddle.
If his previous album In Case You Didn’t Know saw Olly establish himself as a songwriter, Right Place Right Time sees him at the absolute top of his game for crafting songs, driving writing sessions with both regular co-writers and newcomers. “I’ve had much more of a say,” explains Olly. “Plus, I’ve got another year’s experience and I’m very excited for people to hear the input I’ve had. I hate saying the music is more ‘mature’, because I haven’t changed. But I feel my song writing is stronger and I knew where I wanted to go as an artist with this album. I’ve tried to make some of the songs anthemic, and I hope it will open me up to a wider audience”.
Writing sessions began in March, with Olly’s initial idea to bring more of a funk-based Jamiroquai & Maroon 5 feel to his music. “I don’t want to do the same style on every album,” he enthuses. “I’d always said I want to do a Motown album, but after a couple of songs I’ll go ‘Let’s change it up’.”
That restless spirit infuses this album too. The funk is certainly there, on incendiary first single Troublemaker, Hey You Beautiful and the fizzing What A Buzz. But there’s a tenderness to these songs too, with Sliding Doors and The One as passionate as it gets in evoking the search for love.
If it’s anthemics you want, one listen to the stunning Army Of Two will demonstrate how much Olly has stepped up on this album. In the class of Robbie Williams’ Millennium and George Michael’s Freedom, it’s magnificent at capturing the spirit of togetherness Olly and his fans feel. As Olly explains: “I wanted to write a song about my fans that have been amazing to me through the last three years, in the vein of Take That or Coldplay. It felt amazing writing this song, and I can’t wait to sing it live!”
Then there’s the haunting Dear Darlin’, one of three songs along with The One and What A Buzz co-written with Ed Drewett, co-creator of The Wanted’s Glad You Came and All Time Low. A fellow singer from Essex with mates in common, it was natural for the pair to get creative.
“Being friends helped, as we spoke for ages before writing Dear Darlin’” Olly recalls. “We sat there for hours, going over old relationships and recalling their scenarios.
“It’s about writing to someone to tell them how I feel about losing someone, and the flipside of that is The One, which is being in a relationship with someone pushing you away because they’re going through a bad time. They’re not the kind of songs you’d expect me and Ed to write, as we’re bubbly characters, but we were able to open up to each other”.
The gorgeous One Of These Days is the result of Olly’s first writing session in LA, with Andrew Frampton, Steve Kipner and Julian Bunetta, the trio behind hits for The Script, Cheryl and JLS. “Their studio was in a canyon in the middle of nowhere,” grins Olly. “I’m going to learn the piano so I can play that one on tour”.
But Olly’s lively cheek is in full effect too – check out Troublemaker, about “How there’s a girl in every man’s life who’s a bit of trouble.” It’s also the only song to feature a guest – and they don’t get bigger than Flo Rida.
“I’m not a big fan of having collaborations for the sake of it,” Olly emphasises. “But Flo gives Troublemaker that extra 10%, the same as Rizzle Kicks did on Heart Skips A Beat. His flavour – both his rapping and his persona – fit the song so well. I agreed to guest on Flo’s album in return.”
Yet to settle down, Troublemaker perfectly captures the fun side of Olly’s life. “It’s written from experience,” he smiles. “I’m sure lots of men have had girls in their life who’ve been trouble. You wouldn’t normally fancy them, but there’s something that fixates you – a look in their eyes that entices you in. She’s not marriage material, but you can’t help wanting to be around her”.
The swagger continues on Loud And Clear, a kiss-off to the girl Olly was heartbroken about on his first No 1 single Please Don’t Let Me Go and who reappeared in the title track of In Case You Didn’t Know. “She wasn’t there when I needed her and I was really cut up about it,” says Olly. “But I’m still here, and Loud And Clear is about how I’m over her.
“I’ve always liked conversational songs, and this album has some classic Olly idioms in there. It’s still just me.”
It’s a collection borne from the confidence of that first arena tour at the start of the year, where Olly’s natural showmanship meant he had no trouble making the often fraught transition from theatre venues. “Arenas are the best place to be as an entertainer and performer,” he smiles. “To have 20,000 people in the palm of your hand for an hour-and-a-half was incredible, for them to hang on your every word, dancing.
“It was a chance for me to win people over, whether it was girls dragged along by their mates, guys dragged along by their girlfriend or parents looking after their kids. It was a challenge to impress people who might not have liked me. Until someone sees you live, they can still be proved wrong about you.
“Supporting One Direction on their US tour helped too. They were brilliant guys to be around and it gave me some great foundations to make it over there, though it’s still early days.”
Back on our screens with Caroline Flack as The Xtra Factor’s formidable double act, Olly has turned down innumerable other TV presenting roles to focus on his third album. As its title implies, it was the right decision. Or, as Olly puts it: “These are 12 big, big songs. It’s a good place to be.” Right place, right time. Right singer, right songs.