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Daniel Bedingfield: One Love.

27 January 2003 | 1:00 am | Mike Gee
Originally Appeared In

Break On Thru.

If You’re Not The One is in stores now.

The most extraordinary thing about Daniel Bedingfied is he cackles, quite madly. He'll be talking quite normally, then say something that is obviously funny to himself, and he suddenly cackles. It's quite disarming. So is his intensity. He almost comes across as a zealot in his fervour to describe his passion as a singer/songwriter.

Of course, Daniel is a pop star. Musically, he's very good in that particular zone Savage Garden made all their own. Credit where credit is due, his first single, Gotta Get Thru This - about falling in love with a red-headed Swiss-American dancer from Leeds, who he avoided telling about his feelings for two-and-a-half years - debuted at #1 in the UK and did monster business everywhere else. His debut album – also entitled Gotta Get Thru This - proved an eclectic mix of dance tracks and modern pop with a touch of disco and plenty of big ballads for teenies to have warm dreams about. Again, it's a highly professional set that reflects the talent of a 22-year-old dealing with his generation. Now there's a new single with smash hit smeared all over it - If You're Not The One. It's all slush, of course, hi-grade slush, but slush nonetheless but who's to judge, hey.

Embraced by the music industry after initially having his demos - including Gotta Get Thru This - rejected by record companies all over London, he's now a seriously big artist on major Universal Music. Bedingfield sums up his year as "weird, weird, weird". And cackles for the first time.

"The hilarious thing is that I went into the industry expecting to be the Anti-Christ; a cold, heartless thing that pumps out tracks. To my surprise I found friends. They actually believe in me. They're really behind me. They believe in me as a person. They're really supportive - both in the UK and America. There's a lovely girl in Australia called Kylie who couldn't be more supportive."

It is tempting to opine that this all may have something to do with the fact that he's a priority artist who is making the financially-strapped major a big wad of dollars. However.

There's also the question of whether he'd really have had such an impact if he wasn't what young female industry associate described as "a total spunk". Looks, after all, often sell more music than the music itself. Perhaps, such cynicism can be put aside in Bedingfield's case when you see such noted hard reviewers (from opposite press perspectives) as the NME and The Guardian both slobbering over his songs and his talent. Perhaps.

Bedingfield believes that he will only last if he has the songs to go the distance. He still works in the bedroom where he originally recorded half the songs on his album, and he's still writing about the women in his life. Four inspire the record. And he's still chasing the perfect song.

"I want to be a singer/songwriter," he says, "a recognised singer/songwriter. I want people to fall in love with my songs, make music that people take into their family. I don't want to be a pop star. I just want to be a person who sings, writes and gets a message across.”

"I was at this business meeting with the record company and expecting this huge pitch like 'the boy next door'. Instead they said, 'We're going to market you as you'. That was really good. I mean, those are my frigging, naked emotions out there," he cackles. "People want honesty. There's a massive hunger for honesty right now. Chris from Coldplay, Ms Dynamite, David Gray, Nelly Furtado - they're all really honest. Mary J. Blige - you're getting some honesty there.”

"My role models are Dylan, Bono, Stevie Wonder, Sly (Stone), all of whom write straight from the heart, about the issues of life. That's what people are going to get from me. Songs written with those strengths."

Daniel Bedingfield got the redheaded Swiss-American dancer. And probably a few more girls since. Yet you sense a funny mixture of the obsessed - as most artists are - and the family boy, born in New Zealand, who grew up in Brixton after his parents moved to the UK when he was three months old. He began dealing with hyperactivity as a child - he still can't eat sugar today - and writing songs when he was six. By the time he was nine, he was performing them with friends. Destiny, it seems, came true for Daniel Bedingfield. Like it or not, he's a pop star who - for now - even the critics like, or if they don't, at least respect.

"What has been special to me," he says, "is the way my songs have affected people. For instance, there was a guy who was having an operation for cancer and he heard the song Honest Questions and he had the lyrics put on the wall of his hospital room to give him strength. That really means something to me."