James Arthur’s turnaround over the past year has been pretty impressive, hasn’t it? After seemingly being left to flounder in the sea of forgotten X Factor winners in 2013, he made a triumphant return to the top of the Official Singles Chart last September with Say You Won’t Let Go. Shortly after, he re-signed with Simon Cowell’s Syco label.
Since then, he’s scored Number 1 album and is quickly establishing himself worldwide, most recently with Rudimental collaboration Sun Comes Up. Now, he’s lining up to release what could easily become his biggest single yet.
It’s called Naked, and it’s the lead single from his third album, which will be out next year. Crucially, though, he co-wrote the track with pop maestro Max Martin (and his collaborators Savan Kotecha and Johan Carlsson), whose ridiculously mega hit rate speaks for itself.
The song itself a ballad of the stonkingly huge kind about taking a relationship up a notch. “Hey, you there – can we take it to the next level baby, do you dare?” James asks over a twinkling piano intro that steadily builds to a rousing, gospel-light, firework-blasting finale on which he proclaims: “I’m standing here naked”.
It’s the kind of song that feels familiar within its opening minute; the lyrics learned by the song’s first fade out. Here's a preview:
"The four chords that introduce the song are key, I think,” James said. “Then you get the crescendo, the middle eight, the huge final chorus, but there's no sense of overload; it stays true to the simplicity of those four chords. It's like a hymn, that devotional aspect. The minute you hear those chords, you want to sing over them.
"Gospel is something that's become really close to my heart,” he added of Naked’s hymnal quality. “I absolutely love it now. I'm not a particularly religious person but that music – man, it's so powerful. Watching the George Michael documentary, it was such a strong reminder of how he brought gospel influences into pop, and how beautiful the results can be."
Naked is out tomorrow (Friday, November 24).