UK teen sensation Maynard says he's no Justin Bieber

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 25, 2012 7:28 AM

By Nickie Omer

LONDON (Reuters) - British singer Conor Maynard is in his teens, has just broken into the UK charts with the catchy debut "Can't Say No", is a YouTube success story and has his own brand of screaming, die-hard fans. Just don't call him the next Justin Bieber.

Comparisons in the media are inevitable. While Canadian teen sensation Bieber has his millions of "Beliebers" the world over, Maynard is building up his own army of equally passionate "Mayniacs".

His boyish good looks, voice and dress sense are also reminiscent of the North American chart topper, who happened to be in London this week to promote his latest album.

"It's very flattering to be compared to someone who is so massive in the music industry and I'm so early in my career -- I've just released my first song," Maynard told Reuters in an interview to discuss Can't Say No.

"At the same time, in terms of our music, it cuts through that comparison, it's kind of a different sound, we're both going for different things.

"Obviously I'm British as well so it's kind of got a British influence in it, a British sound in some of the tracks that I've done. I think the comparison only goes as far as the fact that we're both young and came through YouTube. In terms of the music it's two different things."

Maynard is seen as a rising star in British pop, although he has a long way to go before matching Bieber's global success and fame. On micro-blogging site Twitter, for example, he has nearly 200,000 followers to Bieber's 20 million or so.

Born in Brighton, southern England, Maynard first thought about a career in music when, aged 15, a girl heard him singing in the street and pestered him to perform in front of their classmates at school.

"So they came up to me and I sang and they were like 'Oh, OK, we get it'. And after that I started recording covers because I got a bit tired of singing to every single person in my year, every day because they wanted to hear it."

In 2008 he began posting videos of himself performing cover versions on YouTube, and his profile quickly grew. In January, he was named MTV's Brand New For 2012 act, garnering 45 percent of votes in a public poll and beating the likes of Lana Del Rey.

Can't Say No entered the British singles chart at the weekend at No. 2, behind Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe", and he has been approached by artists including U.S. singer-producer Ne-Yo for possible collaborations.

Maynard and his record label Parlophone, part of the EMI Group being acquired by Universal Music Group, will be hoping he can follow in the footsteps of other British acts who have recently made a splash in the key U.S. market.

Last month boy band One Direction became the first UK group to see their debut album enter at No. 1 on the Billboard chart, and Maynard has confirmed in a newspaper interview that "America is definitely part of the plan."

He is currently working on his first album "Contrast", set for release in July.

(Additional reporting and writing by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)