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Monday, 25 February, 2002, 13:34 GMT
Will Young's solo gamble
Will Young
Will Young's single is expected to go to number one
As Pop Idol winner Will Young releases his debut single, BBC News Online considers whether he can expect a long, successful pop career.

Twelve months before anybody had ever heard of Will Young, the talk among pop fans was of the first stars to be created by a TV talent show, Hear'Say.

Will Young
Hear'Say's popularity went off the boil after initial success
Riding a wave of popularity after the end of the Popstars series, their debut release Pure and Simple became one of the biggest selling singles of 2001, shifting more than one million copies.

Young now finds himself in a similar position, with his first release, a double A-side, Evergreen and Anything is Possible, expected to shoot to the top of the charts this week.

But whereas the Hear'Say machine began to run out of steam quite quickly, Young is aiming to set himself up for a longer musical career.

He has a huge, ready-made fan base in the 4.6 million people who voted for him to become Pop Idol winner, while a further 9.5 million will still have the show fresh in their memories.

Even if just a small proportion of those who watched the final bought the single, Will would have one of the biggest hits of the year.


There is every possibility that he could break a few records

Serena Momberg
William Hill
Experts think his single is likely to stay at number one for two or three weeks.

"The expectations for Will's success with punters and buyers alike is enormous," according to Serena Momberg from bookmakers William Hill, who are taking bets on how long the single will keep the top spot.

"With all the support he has had, there is every possibility that he could break a few records."

Bored

But whether Young can carve out a lasting solo career is another question.

Hear'Say's problem was that fans got bored after seeing too much too quickly.

Their debut single may have been one of last year's biggest sellers, but their second album could only reach number 24 in the charts.

Will Young
Gareth Gates' music could be targeted at younger fans
The public has already had three months of Young on Pop Idol, and it may be hard to keep the interest up now that the excitement of the show has ended.

But his managers and record company executives, including Simon Fuller and Simon Cowell, have learned lessons from Hear'Say and are trying to make sure he does not become over-exposed.

The people behind him are "the music industry's biggest hitters" who know that there is much more money in establishing him as a career artist, not just a one-off novelty act, according to Dan Cleeve, writer on Top of the Pops Magazine.

"I think he's going to be around for quite a while to come because he's a great singer and the pop market are really keen on him," Mr Cleeve said.

But Young may steer his career towards more mature fans rather than the teen market, leaving Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates free to wow the pop fans, Mr Cleeve thinks.

Will Young
Robbie Williams issued a mock challenge to Young
His best case scenario is to become a rival for Robbie Williams as the UK's favourite male singer.

But Williams issued a mock challenge to Young over next year's Brit award for best British male.

"I'm too strong buddy," he said during his acceptance speech. "You want to come and take my food off my table, stop my kids going through school? Craig David couldn't do it - what makes you think you can do it?"

The bookmakers do not think he can do it either - William Hill have put odds of 20-1 on Young picking up a Brit Award in 2003.

But music fans will have the final say over whether he can become a world-beater - and, as ever, are the only ones who can make or break a star.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Will Young
Anything is Possible
Will Young
Evergreen
 VOTE RESULTS
Can Will make it as a pop star?

Yes
 71.05% 

No
 28.95% 

13215 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

13 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Pop Idol: Can Will make it?
12 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Moody makeover for Will
11 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Pop Idol's career hots up
10 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Will 'must strive' for lasting success
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