Saturday, March 31, 2012

All I have are broken dreams and a house on Fail Avenue: Lament of last Year's BGT winner, who's just been dumped by his record label after album flop

By Simon Neville and Sara Nathan

Broken dreams: Jai, singing in last year's Britain's Got Talent final, has now been dumped by his record company

As he stood victorious on the Britain’s Got Talent stage, Jai McDowall thought he was on the road to stardom.

But just nine months after millions of viewers saw him win Simon Cowell’s ITV talent show, the singer has been dumped by his record label.

Now all he has to show for his brief moment in the spotlight is the three-bedroom home his prize money paid for – on a street called, rather unfortunately, Fail Avenue.

In January, Cowell admitted he was ‘disappointed’ by McDowall, adding: ‘He wasn’t one of our best.’ The singer told the Daily Mail that the pair met only once, after the final last June.

‘After that he emailed to say he thought my performance at the Royal Variety performance was absolutely brilliant, and once to tell me he thought my album was “quite good”,’ he said.

The 25-year-old disability support worker, from the Ayrshire village of Tarbolton, shocked bookmakers when he triumphed over the 12-year-old favourite, Ronan Parke.

After scooping the £100,000 prize and a deal with Sony CMG, as well as a slot at the Royal Variety Performance, McDowall recorded an album, Believe.
It peaked at number 54 in the charts, selling 11,336 copies.

McDowall blamed the album’s lack of success on Sony. ‘It came out around the same time as the X Factor was reaching its climax and you had big name stars like Michael Buble bringing out their Christmas albums,’ he said.

‘I didn’t really ask for more support from Sony and Simon Cowell, and I kind of feel like I should have said something.
‘I was just going along with it, because I didn’t really know what I was doing.

‘I did what I was told. I feel I could have pushed them a bit more, but I think they could have worked a bit harder with the promotion.’

Rocky road: Jai McDowall is congratulated by runner-up Ronan Parke in last year's final
He continued: ‘I’ll be honest: I don’t think I got as much support as I was hoping to get.

‘When you’re on a show like Britain’s Got Talent, it’s one of the biggest shows in the country at the time. But it got to the stage where I started thinking “what went wrong?”, especially when you see all these other stars coming out of reality shows.’

McDowall revealed that Sony did not even tell him directly that his one-album deal was not being extended.

‘They got in touch with my management to say they didn’t want to make a second album, and then I was told,’ he said.

Of the reality show, he said: ‘I watched Britain’s Got Talent last week and thought it was really good.

It was weird to watch though because you know what’s going on and it gave me more empathy because you know exactly what they’re going through.

‘My advice to anyone on the show is try and enjoy it, because I was a nervous wreck.

‘Take it in your stride, because at the end of the day the music business is ruthless. If it’s not what you expect, you should be grateful for whatever you do get.’

He admitted that things hadn’t panned out ‘how I thought they would’, but added: ‘Things were much better than they were if you’d asked me a year before BGT. You’ve got to be grateful for what you’ve got because sometimes life doesn’t always work out the way you expect.’

Winning the show has allowed McDowall to buy his £52,000 three-bedroom house outright. In stark contrast, BGT’s most successful contestant, Susan Boyle, earned an estimated £3million last year.

The winner of this year’s series will receive a larger prize of £500,000. Cowell returned to judge the auditions, having appeared only from the semi-finals onwards last year.

A Sony spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that we will not be making a second album with Jai. We wish him well in his future career.’

This year's Britain's Got Talent judges' line-up: (left to right) David Walliams, Alesha Dickson, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell



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