Why Will Young Is Really Turning His Back On Music

Where Has Will Been?

He has sold millions of records since his win in 2002 but, after sixteen years in the business, Will Young has left music behind for good and he is revealing why.


Life Of A Pop Star

Since Will Young shot to fame after his win on the former reality show, Pop Idol, he has gone onto receive 12 Brit nominations, two of which he won, making him a credible music artist. However, it all began under the reign of Pop Idol judge, Simon Cowell, who showed his dislike towards the singer from the early start of the competition. Although Will stood up to Simon’s criticism towards his singing during his first audition, and even eventually won the show, feelings between the pair never seemed to change.


Saying It How It Is

However, Will has spoken out on the way he works. He says, ‘There hasn’t been a plan, but I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum and I think people respect that. Good or bad, I tell it like it is. I’ve had a lot of problems and I’ve been open about them and talked about them, which is a big part of the reason people are happy to open up when they record the podcast. Honesty is always the most important choice.”


Not All Fame And Fortune

Will is referring to the fact he came out as gay while at the top of the music charts, changing his record label after ten years, and leaving Strictly Come Dancing after just two performances. While Will claims that Pop Idol was “a huge starting point and … the best ever experience for me, ever,” it seems that this newfound celebrity status took a toll on a young Will. Sixteen years on, Will is still making headlines for his controversial moves and shown the true effects of becoming a celebrity.


Strictly Unprofessional

Young made headlines in 2016 after his sudden departure from Strictly Come Dancing having just starred in two live performances in the series. News of his departure came after an evidently angry Will fought back against head judge, Len’ Goodman’s comments in regards to his dancing. As a result, fans believed he was a bad sportsman who did not want to lose and, therefore, just left. Others even claimed he believed he should be paid more, and would not continue if his paycheck was not increased.


This Was Not His Best Reality Show

While Will had once proven his worth on a reality television show following his confrontation with Simon Cowell, his encounter with Len Goodman did not end with the same result. His sudden departure from the show then left both BBC bosses and Will’s dancing partner Karen Clifton furious. It was alleged that bosses cut £20,000 out of Will’s £25,000 paycheck as a result of breaking his contract. When Will was approached the following week and asked why he left the show, he refused to comment.


People Are Always Going To Talk

This was not the first time Will Young had acted in a questionable manner, and it seems since his winning Pop Idol days, the cost of fame and fortune has caught up to the reality star. However, he has spoken about becoming famous, saying that it “is such a weird thing.” He specifically refers to the negative comments and remarks from the opinionated public and how that has taken its toll on the Light My Fire singer.


The Reality Of It All

He said, “You have money, which makes life a lot easier, but it also turns you into a 2D version of yourself. You can be standing in the supermarket and someone will come up and say: ‘I hate you. You’re an idiot.’ And you have to deal with that.” He continued, “It gave me a lot of rage that I then miraculously discovered I could channel into acting. I certainly never expected it to work out in the way it has done.”


New Path In Life

Although he had maintained a successful music career, Will turned to acting and accepted the role of Bertie in the BBC film, Mrs. Henderson Presents, alongside Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins. He also appeared in the Marple drama, The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side and guest starred in an episode of Skins before moving onto theatre. Young made his debut on London’s West End in the production, Cabaret, to which he was nominated several awards for his performance.


A Real Dissapointment

At one point, it was announced that Will would be returning to his reality television roots by becoming one of the four judges to appear on the singing competition, The Voice UK. However, at the last minute, he was replaced by The Script’s frontman, Donny O’Donoghue. Speaking of this change, Will expressed, “Of course I’m disappointed not to be doing the show, not to mention how it’s been handled. But the support from fans has been overwhelming. They really have been amazing.”


Getting To The Bottom Of It

Fans have seemed to follow Will’s journey since they crowned him the winner of Pop Idol in 2002. He has since released six albums, had multiple top hit singles, and won several awards. As a fan favourite, therefore, his sudden departure from Strictly Come Dancing did not go unnoticed and, although he cited it was for “personal reasons,” dedicated fans were eager to get the truth from the singer. When Will finally revealed as to what caused his exit, the “Leave Right Now” singer became even more open about his past.


Not A Sore Loser

If you ask Will Young about his relationship with Simon Cowell, his response will be, “‘I’m not going to go there. I’ve spent long enough living in fear and anger.” However, in regards to his actions and moves within the public eye, he has admitted that it is not exactly what the public would first believe or speculate. In fact, Will did not leave Strictly because of fear of losing, or because of Len’s comments. Rather, something else completely was going on in Will Young’s life.


Dealing With Mental Illness

At the time of Strictly, Will was in a state of depression. ‘Mental illness is mental illness,’ says Young. ‘I was unwell. In the weeks leading up to Strictly, all I could think about was how could I get out of doing the show. I knew I didn’t have the strength, that I wasn’t in the right place and that I would do myself real damage. I actually looked into the easiest way to break my legs so I couldn’t dance. That’s how bad it was.’


Money Vs. Health

Will is estimated to be worth a staggering £13 million, but is proving that the fame and fortune aspects of his life are not enhancing his happiness. Many people may believe that having such a fortune will have you set in life, but Will is proving otherwise. “You get the record deal, the big hits, the beautiful house but you’re not right on the inside, and you either get worse and worse or you try to deal with it. You try to work out where you really want to be.”


Like Was Not A Cabaret

This case of mental illness did not just begin and end during his time on Strictly Come Dancing, but was even becoming apparent to the star when he was starring in Cabaret. Speaking of that time, Will says, ‘I remember on the first day of rehearsals for Cabaret I said to Rupert Norris, “I don’t know if I can do this. I am having a nervous breakdown.” Now looking back, Will see’s that he was channelling his anger and rage into his performance.


Taking All The Help He Can Get

While he had Rupert Norris to help him get through his breakdown at the time, recalling that his response was “incredible,” Young has understood the troubling effects this has had on his life. As a result, he has invested £500,000 on therapy, seen a shaman, gone on residential courses, been in and out of various treatment centres, screamed into pillows, and spent a decade under the same psychiatrist. All these choices have been part of his journey to wellness.


Creating  A Podcast

It was while Will was in a residential centre, however, that he came up with Homo Sapiens, a podcast set up by himself and film-maker, Chris Sweeney. As it is written on their website’s homepage, Young and Sweeney express that with Homo Sapiens, “We like to think of ourselves as Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’ for an LGBT+ audience.” The purpose of the podcast is to allow people to open up and be honest, just as Will always hopes to be able to do.


The Root Of It All

Will has also explained that it not just his thrust into the limelight that was the cause of his problems over the years. In fact, he puts a lot of blame on his childhood when he was sent to boarding school at the age of nine. Will now believes that no kid should be sent to a boarding school as it affects their wellbeing drastically. Furthermore, he has been open about his own experience of his time at boarding school, and why he believes it is the root of the problems.


His Strong Belief

After facing the hardships of growing up in a boarding school himself, Will believes that “No kid should have to go to boarding school. It’s just wrong on so many levels.” He continued, “As a child, you are just left there to deal with teachers who run this very flawed and archaic system. I remember watching a father leave his son at school and just shaking his hand as he left. There was no emotion. It was heart-breaking. I really hope the whole notion of boarding schools disappears.”


Life Lessons Made

Young explains that, even when he was 23-years-old and taking part in one of the biggest singing competitions, he was not afraid to stand up to bullies. ‘My dad had always told me to stand up to bullies. At school lots of the teachers were bullies. I understood that. I also understood I was in a system and I wasn’t afraid of it. So I recognised everything for what it was on Pop Idol and I wasn’t afraid to stand up for myself.’


Never Ending

While the then 23-year-old Will was beating his personal childhood demons, it did not mean that his next path was going to go any smoother. He has expressed, ‘I spent decades living a life of shame and guilt. Within weeks of winning Pop Idol I had to sit and listen to someone at my record company read out this appalling piece someone had written calling me a big-jawed gay predator, and however tough you think you are, you just go back to those awful feelings.”


The Music Industry Did Not Help Matters

As well as opening up about his troubled past, Will has also expressed his problem with the music industry. On his podcast, he has stated that he believes the music industry is homophobic after someone at his record company said he “sounded gay” on “Leave Right Now.” This may have been one of Young’s biggest hits during his music career, but the record company insisted he kept re-recording the track to make it not sound too gay.


Exploitation In Music

Meanwhile, at his first Brits, Will was asked to duet with George Michael by his record company, and to follow it with a kiss on stage to create a ‘scandalous moment.’ This never happened in the end, but Young still claims that this was another example of the way the music industry exploit their artists. Not willing to succumb to their ways, Will is even planning to sell his two Brits because he does not like what they stand for.


Bye, Bye, Brits

Will is planning to sell his two Brit Awards to raise money for the Soi Dog Foundation, a Foundation he is a patron of. Speaking of this move, Will has said, ‘People think I am mad to get rid of my Brits, but to me, they are just a reminder of a not very happy time in my life. I’d rather the money go to the dogs. Then I am turning bad into good, and that’s the way I want to be.’


Leaving It All Behind

To the outside, Will had won the ultimate competition for any aspiring singer and had become a platinum-selling artist, meaning Young’s life seemed like a dream come true. To Will, the truth was very different. He explains, “I hated being a pop star, I would never put out a record again. It makes me sick to think of being that person I knew wasn’t really me. I did have some good times and did meet some very good people, but I was never comfortable, never happy.


When One Door Closes

Meanwhile, quitting music has not resulted in the end of Young’s career. Rather, it has seemed to open more doors for the star, and he has become an Olivier-nominated musical theatre actor who is performing in yet another production. This time, he is appearing in the stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hit film, Strictly Ballroom: The Musical, where he is playing the newly created role of Wally Strand. However, Young had nearly turned down this role that he is set to play at the Piccadilly Theatre.


Impressing People In High Places

Baz Luhrmann, the Golden Globe-winning director of Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby, had personally approached Will to cast him in the upcoming musical. It was because of his performance as comic Emcee in Cabaret, which he reprised three times since 2012, that Luhrmann was impressed with the star’s theatrical abilities. Yet, while Luhrmann saw the potential in Young for his upcoming production, Young was not so keen on the idea. Speaking of the role, Young admits, ‘My initial reaction was no.’


Back To Strictly

Perhaps Will was not ready to go from one Strictly to another, but fortunately for his fans, he somehow changed his mind from his initial “no.” He went onto say “‘But the script was incredible,” and he has now begun his stint on the West End stage once again. He even appears throughout the production and reveals, “I add a hint of darkness, and I always love a hint of darkness.” Lucky for Will Young fans too, since his beautiful singing voice will take centre stage.


Preventing It From Happening More

Having discussed all the issues of his past, and his reasoning for leaving his career in music behind for good, Will is hoping to prevent his troubled past from happening to others. As well as appearing on stage in the upcoming months, he is planning a rally for teenagers to get a message across to the Department of Education. Having developed issues from a young age, Young believes that there is not enough being done within schools to help youngsters tackle their problems.


Good Vibes Only

Moreover, Will’s podcast, Homo Sapiens, is where people can be open about topics such as bullying or issues faced within the LGBTQ community. The podcast also provides general chit-chat amongst speakers, but its primary aim is to be open and honest, traits which Will has ensured to maintain from his childhood to his adulthood. While Jeremy Corbyn has been a guest recently, do not expect Theresa May to be getting an invite since Will says ‘she’s not relaxed’ and that ‘Talking to her would be like pulling teeth.’