“Don’t vote for me, vote for Janette,” HRVY begged the British public during last weekend’s Strictly Come Dancing semi-final.
The singer’s plea came to focus attention on professional partner Janette Manrara, vying for her first final since joining the show in 2013. It was the latest in a series of HRVY moments over the past six weeks that have won over the show’s viewers.
Come Saturday’s grand finale however, as much as my vote will be for Janette, it’ll be even more for HRVY himself. That’s because the journey here hasn’t been six weeks of hard work in training – it’s been years of graft in the making.
Watching HRVY charleston his way to a 30 last weekend, his second perfect mark of the series, it struck me what a far cry it was from the first time I saw – or heard – the promising youngster.
That was in the summer of 2017 when the then 18-year-old’s single ‘Holiday’ had made it into New Music Friday. An earworm of a summer hit, it put HRVY on the map for me. Yet, even though it makes its way onto my yearly summer playlists without fail, it’s fair to say that track lacked a real artistic direction – it could belong to any fellow teen pop star vying for a breakthrough.
Fast forward to 2020 and HRVY is an artist with a clear identity. 2020 singles ‘ME BECAUSE OF YOU’ and ‘NEVERMIND’ were the singer’s best yet as he found a dance-pop groove of his own. Pulling that long-awaited project, Can Anybody Hear Me?, must have been tricky but was the right decision – the time wasn’t right.
Covering the star’s journey over the years, it’s clear that progression hasn’t materialised from thin air. HRVY has learnt his trade by lending his vocals to big-name producers such as Jonas Blue, Sigala and R3HAB, spent months on the road both as a support act and headline artist, and caught countless flights across the Atlantic to work from LA.
In more tangible terms, that means missed family occasions, little time to hang out with mates and countless working hours. I’m 22 years old, around HRVY’s age, and have thrown quite the pity party in 2020 for all those socialising cancellations due to the virus. I imagine the reality is that HRVY has had to say no to those things many a time over the years. I couldn’t have more respect for the diligence that must take.
I remember watching the singer take to the stage at BBC Radio 1’s Teen Awards in 2018. His biggest performance to date at the time, HRVY pulled off a notable level up. The hours put in from himself and his ever-present entourage resulted in a showcase of the attitude and consistency that has propelled HRVY’s rise these last three years.
So, when announced for Strictly Come Dancing, it wasn’t his brief dance background or musicality that marked him out as a frontrunner for me. It was that work ethic that I and fans had seen so many times before.
Sure enough, he hasn’t disappointed. Whilst fans may only see that training process in supercut clips on a Saturday night, it was the first thing Janette jumped on when asked by Claudia Winkelman why HRVY should be in the Strictly final: “He’s a role model for his generation, he works so, so hard, he is driven, passionate about the things he loves.”
The general public is clearly on board. It’s hard to remember a Strictly series so unpredictable with results. Couples can top the leaderboard and end up in the dreaded dance-off just hours later – Maisie & Gorka and Max & Dianne are couples who have been on the receiving end of shock voting results. Yet, HRVY & Janette have maintained a spotless record as the public continue to rally behind them.
The pop star has never been short of support – the day he shut down Bluewater shopping centre in 2019 with masses of teenagers springs to mind. Whilst many of those same teens will be tuning into Strictly and voting online, the show’s audience is far from the singer’s usual listeners. YouGov found that 45% of Baby Boomers held a positive opinion of the show, compared to only 31% of millennials – fans of HRVY’s music are often even younger than that. No matter the age, people are behind the HRVY journey.
It proves that what comes around goes around. HRVY counts over 4.5 million followers on Instagram alone and is quick to lift others around him. Whether that be giving a leg up to other young artists like Denis Coleman, cameos in music videos for Johnny Orlando or featuring younger brother Elliot’s clothing line OFF/SZN in a music video. If not for that, he’ll be using his platform to support movements such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ equality.
Come Saturday night, all of that culminates at the Strictly Come Dancing final. HRVY is a pop star first and foremost and there will be albums, arenas and tours in years to come but right now – even if he’s far too humble to admit it – all eyes will be on that glitterball trophy. He deserves it too. HRVY has my vote.
The Strictly Come Dancing final 2020 is this Saturday. Who will you be voting for? Let us now @CelebMix on Twitter.