As”The Voice” coach and multi-platinum-selling singer-songwriter Niall Horan prepares to release his long-awaited third album—“The Show”—on June 9, he admitted that his work has matured since his last album several years ago.
“There is some experimentation going on,” he revealed to “NBC Insider.” “I haven’t released music since I was 25 or 26, and to be closing in on 30, I think you just gather more information as you go….What I’m saying is a bit more grown up, I guess.”
Horan expressed the same feelings when he sat down with “The Voice” coach Kelly Clarkson on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.” The two superstars have a lot in common, both competing in their teens in globally watched competitions (she on “American Idol,” he on “The X Factor UK”).
When Clarkson gushed over Horan’s single, “Heaven,” released in advance of the album, he agreed that it demonstrates an evolution of his music.
“We look at those late teens, early 20s as formative years,” he told Clarkson. “But I didn’t realize how formative 25 to 30 is. A lot goes on in your life. You do a lot more thinking. As you change, your music changes with it.”
“Yeah, life inspires the art,” Clarkson said.
Oh, What a Difference 13 Years Makes!
At age 16, during the Dublin auditions for “The X Factor UK,” the grinning boy with the rosy cheeks and tousled mane revealed his grandiose goals in a backstage interview:
“I want to be like big names,” the young Horan said, “like Beyonce and Justin Bieber is a perfect example. I’ve been compared to him a few times, and it’s not a bad comparison. I want to sell out arenas and make an album and work with some of the best artists in the world.
Horan’s confidence outweighed his signing skills. On stage, in front of a live audience, he faced judges Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Cheryl Cole and guest judge Katy Perry. He showed no nerves as he belted out a few bars from “So Sick.”
Half the judges were not sold on his singing talent.
“I think that you’re adorable and that you have charisma,” Perry said. “I just think that you should work on it. You’re only 16.”
Cowell agreed but saw something in the boy:
“I think you’re unprepared. I think you came with the wrong song. You’re not as good as you thought you were. But I still like you.”
Even Horan now agrees he lacked talent and said as a judge, he wouldn’t turn his chair on “The Voice” for his younger self.
From Hopeful Contestant toLegitimate Superstar
Horan fans know how the story turned out. He was voted into the competition, and he and four other contestants—Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik—were teamed up during the boot camp phase of the competition and became the wildly successful boy band One Direction. The group put out five albums before Horan went solo in 2016.
Matured certainly describes Horan today. For St. Patrick’s Day, he was invited to sing at the White House, which he told the president, the vice president, and other attendees was a great honor. But he still retains a boyish charm and keeps up a lively banter with fellow “The Voice” coach Blake Shelton, AKA his “adopted dad.” And he coaches his team members with wisdom developed during his years as an artist.
Not everyone who achieves fame young can mature into a serious artist. Somehow, Horan has managed that.
As Perry told the 16-year-old contestant in 2010: “Likableness is not going to sell albums. It’s talent. And you have a seed of it.”