James Arthur comeback continues with number one album

James Arthur with his official charts trophyImage copyright
Official Charts Company

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James Arthur said a number one album was “the ultimate achievement”

Former X Factor winner James Arthur has cemented his comeback by scoring a number one album.

The singer was dropped by Simon Cowell’s label in 2014, after a series of controversies, including the use of a homophobic slur in a freestyle rap.

He has since revealed he was crippled by anxiety and self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.

After being dropped, he had panic attacks and suicidal thoughts, but slowly turned things around.

He gave up drugs, which he said were exacerbating his anxiety, and managed to kick a gambling habit for good measure. At the start of this year, he began to write songs again, and signed a deal with the German arm of Sony music.

Media captionJames Arthur performs Say You Won’t Let Go in Radio 1’s Live Lounge

The first single, an impassioned ballad called Say You Won’t Let Go, quickly rose to the top of the charts – at which point Cowell’s Syco label got back in touch, and re-signed him for the UK.

“They said: ‘Please let us back in. We want to be part of this amazing story’,” Arthur recently told London’s Evening Standard.

“It made sense to me. I’m a sucker for that story. Syco are notorious for dropping people, so what a compliment it is for them to re-sign me. So I thought, ‘Let’s do the full circle’.”

Arthur’s album, appropriately called Back From The Edge, was released last Friday. It sold 41,000 copies, beating artists like Elvis Presley and Michael Buble to reach number one.

“To have a body of work go to number one… it’s the ultimate sense of achievement,” said Arthur. “Thank you so much to everyone who has bought it.”

The singer is only the second X Factor winner to top the chart with their second album, after Leona Lewis’s Echo in 2009.

Other new entries in this week’s album chart include Mapping The Rendezvous, the fifth album by Manchester indie band Courteeners, which debuts at four.

Madness chart at number five with Can’t Touch Us Now, their first album in four years, which features a tribute to Amy Winehouse called Blackbird.

Singer-songwriter Jack Savoretti is new at number six with his third album Sleep No More, while Pointless host Alexander Armstrong enters at eight with his second album Upon A Different Shore.

Armstrong, a formal choral scholar, performs music by Vaughan Williams, Stephen Sondheim and Pink Floyd on the album, as well as playing oboe on two tracks.

Robbie Williams’ greatest hits also returns to the top 10 for the first time in a decade, after being discounted on iTunes. The singer’s new album, The Heavy Entertainment Show, is released on Friday and expected to be a high-placing new entry next week.

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In the singles chart, Little Mix continue their reign at number one with the over-you anthem Shout Out To My Ex. With three weeks in pole position, it now ties with the band’s 2015 hit Black Magic as their longest-ever chart topper.

However, sales of the song are down to 79,000, from a high of 111,000 last week, meaning next week’s number one slot is up for grabs.

Challengers could include Clean Bandit’s Rockabye, which climbs four places to number three; and Bruno Mars’s 24K Magic, which makes its top 10 debut this week.

The highest new entry comes from last year’s X Factor winner, Louisa Johnson, whose new single So Good lands at number 20.

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