By Charlotte McLaughlin and Alex Green, PA
Louis Walsh has said the most important element to becoming a success in the music industry is how an artist sounds, not how many TikTok followers they have.
The entertainment manager and talent show judge, who has represented Irish hitmakers Westlife and Boyzone, is working with new five-piece boyband Next In Line, who he describes as a “modern-day One Direction”.
The boy band, who recently performed on RTÉ's Late Late Show, will make their international debut in Abu Dhabi at the world final of Junk Kouture, a youth eco-fashion competition.
He told the PA news agency ahead of the performance on Wednesday: “People… are saying, how are you on socials? And how are you doing on Instagram and TikTok and all that, they don’t even ask you about the music.
“The music is really the last thing.
“Once you get hits, you can get everything else, and I know that from working with Simon Cowell (on The X Factor). It’s all about the songs… and I suppose the image and the hard work.
“I mean, look at Lewis Capaldi, Ed Sheeran and Adele… they use TikTok, but they are famous, and they’re big because of their songs and their voices.”
Walsh said he selected Next In Line from around 2,000 auditions last year but they are yet to make a record as one band member is in school and another is 16.
Walsh added: “I want to get a perfect producer and a perfect songwriter that suits their sound and create a new show.
“Obviously, pop music, but their own type of sound, and I want the boys to be involved in everything – the writing and the playing, the singing, the whole lot. That’s why we haven’t rushed anything.
“I want to go to a record company, ready finished with like, five or six hits.
“It’s so different from years ago, I want to present everything to them.”
He said the band are influenced by singers such as Harry Styles and Billie Eilish and pop-rock band The 1975, but are not like Westlife or Boyzone.
Walsh said he was invited to have the band perform at Junk Kouture after the organisers saw pictures of the group.
He has been an judge for more than five years for the fashion competition, which was launched in 2010 in Ireland.
The contest sees creative high school pupils recycle materials to create haute couture designs, and has now drawn international entries.
Delighted to announce that Next in Line formed by legendary pop manager Louis Walsh will perform at the Junk Kouture World Final on January 11th! pic.twitter.com/reRUtcLtJq
— Junk Kouture (@junkkouture) January 6, 2023
Walsh said: “It’s a very interesting thing because it’s all young kids, making these amazing clothes out of junk.
“It’s quite incredible when you see it, the work that goes into it, and I think it could be a global thing.”
Junk Kouture said it has recruited 100,000 teenagers to date and saved 40,000kg of waste from landfill.
This year contestants have used trampolines, plastic sanitary wrappers, mannequin busts, ATM receipts and moss to make clothes, and Walsh said the Irish contenders have a strong chance of success.
He said for a “small island, there’s an awful lot of talent here, in fashion and in music, or in the arts generally”.
The first world final of Junk Kouture, founded by tech entrepreneur Troy Armour, is on Wednesday.