August 7 2012, Spindle Magazine

I don’t watch sports. The closest I have come is watching the ball sail pass me, followed by a stampede of roaring team mates urging me to kick/hit/catch it, while being forced to play some form of organised sport. The Olympics? They leave me cold. No, not even the sight of Tom Daley in his Speedos can spark a vestige of interest (much to my colleagues’ consternation). So news of two former reality television contestants set to battle it out in the charts with impending releases on the same day? Well this, to me, is sport.

That’s right: crowning heavyweight champ Lemar, of Fame Academy pedigree, is set to release new single,Invincible (off of upcoming sixth album) on the same day as golden boy, formerly of X Factor, Aiden Grimshaw, releases Curtain Call (of his debut, Misty Eye) on August 12thI mean honestly, it doesn’t get much more exciting than this, does it? If this doesn’t inspire some Olympic/sport spin off feature, I don’t know what does.

Both were kind enough to grant me ‘pre match’ interviews (I should probably point out at this point that any and all competition between the two is confined solely to these pages and my imagination).

The smack talk? Non existent. Lemar, with all the wisdom of his years as one of the reigning success stories in reality television, offered these sage, Yoda–like words: “He’s at a different stage in his journey to mine: he’s started off and I’m ten years in, so I think we’ve both got different challenges that we face musically and in the business and I wish him all the best.”

As for Mr Grimshaw? “Go on, Lemar!” Followed by much singing of Lemar songs (it was actually quite thrilling).

But, before you rush off to William Hill to place your bets, let’s take a look at the contestants shall we? In the blue corner, we have Lemar.

It’s been 10 years since Lemar came third in Fame Academy yet, against the odds that felled his fellow contestants and many other ex reality show contestants over the years (anyone know what David Sneddon, who deftly bested him, is up to these days? No? Me neither.) the R&B singer’s career has gone from strength to strength. Having been snapped up by Sony soon after his departure from the show, with whom he released five albums, he went on to rack up various nominations and awards (including Best UK Male and British Urban Act in 2006) not to mention the hearts of just oh so many women. His secret? “I don’t know man, I don’t know! I just try to write the best songs that I can… The public aren’t stupid so if they think something’s good enough for them to part with their money with, then they’ll go and get it.”

Latest single, Invincible, comes from his sixth album, which is to be released later this year. Described as a “natural progression,” Lemar tells me that fans can expect a distinctly edgier, rock vibe with this record. “Since the one before, I’ve experimented a little more with guitar, so there’s a slight, rocky kind of element to some of the songs, like Invincible… I just tried to really push myself.” Despite this, he insists that this release was born of a much more natural process: “I wasn’t really planning on releasing an album; I just wanted to take some time out and chill. I went and did a lot of travelling- went to LA, went to Europe with a mate- had some family time as well, just hung out with friends and during that process I was writing songs. So the album, it just kind of evolved.”

One of the main differences with this LP, though, is the fact that it won’t be released through Sony. With his contract expiring, in what he describes as “a natural end of a chapter,” instead of choosing to resign with another major label, Lemar decided to launch his own. “I’ve been really enjoying it. You can definitely move a bit quicker than if I was with a major, in that, if I want to do something, I decide to do it then I just do it, you know? I’ve got a great team around me that help me execute that as well.” Well, you don’t get ten years in without some canny minded business sense, after all, do you now?

Hinting at “a few other projects that are up and coming with some artists,” what else has Lemar got in store for us, post chart smack down, that is? “Just more of the same, more of the same. Just see where this journey takes us.”