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May day looming as British Bieber replaces real deal


He already has the doe-eyed good looks and an army of female fans called the Mayniacs. Now Conor Maynard can really be called "Britain's Justin Bieber" after the Brighton musical prodigy displaced the Canadian idol from the upper reaches of the chart with his debut single.

Maynard, 19, enjoys a rather different life to his college peers. He fields late-night Skype calls from US singer Ne-Yo and receives admiring tweets from Lily Allen. Like Bieber, he found an audience by uploading bedroom-filmed interpretations of current R&B hits to YouTube. The response was instant.

He became the UK's fifth most subscribed-to YouTube channel and his worldwide views now total 76 million. Maynard's own heroes, the rapper/producer Pharrell Williams and Ne-Yo, contacted him to suggest duets.

Yesterday "Can't Say No", Maynard's debut single, entered the chart at No 2, displacing Bieber's own single "Boyfriend", from the runners-up spot.

Maynard told i: "It's pretty amazing for the single to go in so high."

The success means Maynard can make a little more noise in his bedroom studio. "When I started off putting cover versions on YouTube, my dad was banging on the walls telling me to shut up."

When an associate of Ne-Yo told Maynard to expect a call from the star, the teenager thought it could be an imposter. He said: "I was sitting in my bedroom at 1am when I got a Skype call from Ne-Yo. It was definitely him. I was in my pyjamas but fortunately he didn't hang up. I had to be really quiet so I didn't wake my mum up."

Maynard is a year older than Bieber, left, who uses social media to mobilise his huge fanbase and has sold eight million records during a four-year career.

Although Maynard cannot yet match Bieber's 20 million Twitter Beliebers (he has a mere 175,000), the Brightonian insists that he is the more serious musical proposition. "I think I'm making a different kind of sound."