Touted as the British answer to Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber, Brighton-born Conor Maynard also rose to prominence through cover versions posted on YouTube. Born in 1992, Maynard had been singing from a young age, but it wasn’t until 2008 that he posted his first video -- a cover of Lee Carr’s “Breathe” -- on the video sharing site. Throughout 2009 and 2010, Maynard continued posting cover versions of songs by artists such as Chris Brown, Taio Cruz, and Rihanna, and amassed a considerable following from users subscribing to his YouTube channel. Maynard’s cover of American R&B artist Ne-Yo’s “Beautiful Monster” caught the attention of the singer/songwriter, prompting Ne-Yo to make contact with the rising star.
At the end of 2011, MTV U.K. hosted their Brand New for 2012 competition, which enabled fans to vote for their favorite up-and-coming artists. Joined by Lana Del Rey, Delilah, and Lianne La Havas, among others in the competition, Maynard went on to win, picking up 45-percent of the votes. A month later he announced that he’d signed a deal with EMI subsidiary Parlophone, and in April 2012, he released his first single, Can’t Say No. Maynard’s debut album, Contrast, followed three months later and saw him working with a whole host of producers and guest vocalists, including Pharrell Williams, the Invisible Men, Ne-Yo, and Rita Ora. Contrast produced five Top 10 singles for Maynard, including the Labrinth-produced "R U Crazy." As he prepared for a follow-up in 2016, his social media presence increased, with his cover of Drake's "One Dance" surpassing 35 million views. ~ Richard Wilson