THEY are tantalisingly close to landing their first No1 hit with new single Not Over Yet.
During their rise to the top, the lads have somehow swerved the pitfalls of tumbling bleary eyed out of clubs every night with so-called pals riding on their coat tails and instead have retained a laser-like focus on their careers.
Tom tells me: “I don’t really get involved in all that s***. I like being at home and knowing what I am doing and who I am with.
“I’ve got a core group of mates from home that are my tightest. Right now I am surrounded by positive people with good energy. I’ve been putting it out into the atmosphere that I want good things and good things are happening.
“When KSI sent me the track, straight away I knew it was a banger. I went to the studio and put my vocal on it then boom, this is happening.”
Tom was the victim of an unprovoked attack during his debut US tour in April which left him in hospital with damage to his eardrum.
Luckily, four months on he is back to his best.
He says: “Yeah it’s all good now.
“I’m not worried about going out after the attack because that is putting judgment on other people.
“Whoever did it had mental health problems and I hope they have found peace. I am good though. I’ve recovered.”
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Now with a No1 album under his belt, as well as three Top Ten singles, Tom says he is more confident than ever when it comes to speaking his mind and directing his career.
The Little Bit Of Love singer explains: “I am older, I am wiser and I’m in a place where I am happy, comfortable and doing what I want to do.
“Right now, I just want to have fun and a good time — and that’s the direction of my third album. It’s exciting.
“I feel like a lot of people are struggling and I want to be that escape for people and music is a source of escape.”
So it comes as a surprise when Tom tells me that while he is happy to use social media and enjoy its benefits, he has no plans to simply bow to any stunt dreamed up by record bosses.
Tom says: “KSI is the king of social media and I am still getting my head around it all, but I don’t do something if I don’t enjoy it — be that the label telling me or someone else.
“If I don’t want to do it I am not going to do it. But if I enjoy it then I will do it, of course.”
I can reveal that one of the tricks lined up by the lads in the coming days includes new remixes of their track, which will no doubt boost streaming numbers.
As with any public presence, there comes the inevitable downside of the keyboard warriors who will troll for the sake of it.
However, KSI says that while he “reads everything” that people say about him online — to keep himself grounded — he’s also learned to laugh at trolls.
He tells me: “I read everything. I think it is good to be obsessed with it. I see the good and the bad so I know what is going on.
“I don’t want to live in this fairytale world where everyone praises me and I am this God. I see what people say.
“The criticism, the ridiculous things and the good things. I feel like it helps keep me grounded. You have to train the mind to be able to rationalise and understand that, yes, there might be a bad comment but there are several other good comments.
You have to learn that it’s OK. It takes practice.
“I have had my ups and downs but most of the time I stay calm. It’s not easy, but you can shield yourself.”
Away from the studio KSI is training hard for a return to boxing and was due to fight his YouTube rival Alex Wassabi on August 27.
But Alex has pulled out after suffering concussion in training. So UK rapper Swarmz will step into the ring with KSI instead.
A dust-up with US boxer Jake Paul is also on the cards. But despite Jake insisting he is ready to make it happen next year, KSI doubts he will go ahead with it.
KSI said: “I am going to send him a contract and sort everything out. That is on him now. Let’s see if he is a man of his word.”
Both in the charts and in the ring, it sounds like these lads are on to a winner.
Ear’s Kim’s next big venture
GUESS what you should be looking at in this picture of Kim Kardashian?
Of course . . . her ears.
She has teamed up with manufacturer Beats to launch the first custom collaboration for their Beats Fit Pro buds, which she is wearing.
It was revealed at the weekend that the US reality star has split from her American comic boyfriend Pete Davidson after nine months.
Her ex-husband Kanye West then mocked the break-up. He posted a fake newspaper front page on Instagram with the headline: “Skete Davidson dead at 28” – using the nickname he gave the comic.
But Kim has been staying out of it, keeping busy designing earphones to add to her TV and cosmetic fortunes.
She said of the buds, which go on sale next Tuesday: “I’ve never seen any tech products in neutral colours. I found an artist who would paint the headphones then thought, ‘Why wouldn’t I just go to Beats and show samples’. They understood the vision right away.”
Maybe she can wear them to cut out the noise from Kanye.
SKEPTA has shown his vulnerable side by opening up about his health woes.
In a personal statement posted on Instagram, the That’s Not Me rapper, who once dated supermodel Naomi Campbell, said he has suffered with stomach issues since his early twenties and it has impacted his entire life.
He wrote: “Apart from me not being able to maintain a steady weight, (I get) depression, short-term memory loss. It also controls my moods, which has ultimately steered my life.
“I’ve had an endoscopy and nothing was found but I still get crippling waves of pain in my stomach so I think the next thing for me to do is to book an MRI scan.
“Sending strength to anybody that has had to deal with stomach problems. The internal fights, the mood swings, losing things etc are normal symptoms. Just don’t let it ruin your life.”
LOVING THE J-GLO TRACKIE
JENNIFER Lopez chanelled her 2000 hit Let’s Get Loud in this garish trackie top and bottoms.
She teamed the bold outfit with red sunglasses and a green leather handbag as she headed to a dance studio in Los Angeles.
The Hollywood golden couple eloped to Las Vegas to marry last month and are now planning a huge bash at Ben’s mansion in Atlanta, Georgia.
To make things more manageable, she has hired celebrity wedding planner Colin Cowie to put together the party, where the guest list could give the star-spangled Met Ball a run for its money.
Jen shared the photos of her first big day with Ben in her email newsletter, so I’ve no doubt we’ll be seeing all the snaps from the second celebration in exactly the same way.
There is always a job on my column if you like writing that much, Jen…
TOM TO STAR IN MUSICAL
ACTION movie daredevil Tom Cruise will soon be showing a different side – by starring in a musical.
The Hollywood A-lister is planning a series of projects with producer Christopher McQuarrie. The pair are shooting Mission: Impossible 8 but the future could see them working on an original song and dance-style movie.
The last time viewers saw Tom in a role like that was as Stacee Jaxx in 2012’s Rock Of Ages, although he is likely to take the main role this time.
Following the success of Top Gun: Maverick – now the 13th highest-grossing film ever having made nearly £1billion – Tom is also working on another action film and a spin-off about his Tropic Thunder character Les Grossman.
He turned 60 last month, but isn’t slowing down.
JADE TAKES BREAK BEFORE SOLO BID
THE chance of a solo tune from any of the members of Little Mix this year is fading fast.
It has been nine months since the band’s final single before their hiatus but I’ve learned that Jade Thirlwall is planning to take it easy for the rest of the year before launching herself as an artist in her own right in 2023.
The singer and her team are determined not to rush things out and potentially jeopardise her whole solo career, despite having a tune ready to go with DJ and producer Jax Jones.
A source said: “The stakes are massive. Jade has what it takes to become a huge star. It would be foolish to rush-release some half-hearted track. Jade has been in the studio a lot but at the moment it’s about planning for the future while enjoying a break following her 11 years in Little Mix.”
Things didn’t go well for her former bandmate Jesy when her debut solo single Boyz failed to capture much interest and she has now split from her label Polydor.
That ought to be a warning to all of them. Although I’m sure Jade has been quietly watching and learning from the sidelines.