Elliot Gleave has been making music as Example for a while now, and in fact we were going to report on him last year, but we thought we'd wait until he had a proper hit, which he is finally poised to do with his new single, Watch the Sun Come Up. It's a blast of late-summer poppy hip-hop that puts Gleave in Streets/Dizzee territory (he had a brief stint on Mike Skinner's short-lived Beats label and performed with Dizzee at Ibiza Rocks), or maybe think about him as a more rappy Calvin Harris – the latter features on Example's forthcoming second album, Won't Go Quietly. Basically, he's the next hipster doofus with shopping-mall appeal.
Gleave calls what he does "dysfunctional electro-pop" and, pre-empting criticism, he says of the summer romance-fest Watch the Sun Come Up, "Even when I'm talking about falling in love on holiday, deep down I'm still thinking about global warming and all the stuff in the papers". He studied film directing at Royal Holloway University at the start of the decade and took the opportunity, while shooting an earlier video in Chernobyl, to make a short film focusing on the area's derelict local amenities. What a hoot, eh? Still, he's not as dry as that makes him sound – he's actually done standup comedy, and there is footage of him onstage, being introduced by Richard Herring, in full comedic flight. Well, perhaps not full, but we definitely chuckled once.
He's sufficiently witty – in the sense of having nous – to know who to pick as producer: Brian Rawlings, who has worked with the likes of Britney and Kylie and has what Example, quoting Pete Waterman, calls "Woolworth's ears", i.e. the common touch. He's certainly moving in a more mainstream direction – compared with the lairier, grimier Hooligans, Watch the Sun Come Up posits Gleave as a crossover artist, more Dan Black than Tinchy Stryder. On Won't Go Quietly, there are choirs, ballads that name-check Gary Barlow, the Calvin Harris-produced Time Machine that recalls Wham, and a track called Next 7 Hours that apparently sounds like "everything in the top 20 all at once". The album claims to have been made under the influence of Kanye West, Madness, George Clinton, Daft Punk and the Rolling Stones, but we're expecting an album of Calvin Harris-ish streamlined urban pop, no more, no less. "I realised I just wanted to make pop songs, be a fucking pop star, have fun, be onstage and play to big crowds," said Example, and if his record label can find a way to market this scruffy, uncharismatic, unphotogenic character, he should become as paradigmatic as his name – the UK's first ex-standup pop-grime white-boy rap star.