It's Chico Time

It’s Chico Time was a number 1 in the UK Official Singles Chart.

It was also, for me, one of those rare, out-of-nowhere successes, something that happened very fast, unscripted and in a totally serendipitous way.

Normally I’ll be working with an artist over a long period of time – this was the opposite of that; the first time I’d worked with Chico.

The roots of it went back to my friendship with Mark Hudson (of Aerosmith and Ozzy Osbourne fame.) We’d worked on a Hanson record ‘Snowed in for Christmas’, got along really well and kept in touch and saw each other sporadically afterwards, and we’d meet up in London whenever he was over from the States.

Fast forward a few years and Mark was part of the ‘X-Factor’ crew as a vocal coach for Sharon Osbourne’s team (the Ozzy connection!) I’d watch the show avidly, and Mark and I would meet up occasionally. One night after dinner with him in Soho, Mark called down the street to me as we were leaving, “Hey, we need to do, ‘It’s Chico Time!’”

The phrase had already become a catch-phrase for Chico on the show. And the next morning I got up thinking about it, and started looking at some of the songs I’d been working on at the time. I found one I’d written with one of my regular writing partners, Roachie, one of several we’d actually written for Tom Jones. I got a mic going, starting singing phrases over it, including ‘It’s Chico Time’ and straightaway it sounded really good. So I called Mark and told him I thought I had what we needed, and sent it over.

He thought it was great, Chico really went for it – and so Mark wrote a full lyric and we went in and recorded it at my studio in Metropolis. This was the middle of the week, a Tuesday or a Wednesday, and Mark played it to Simon Cowell who said, great, do it on the show on Saturday!

It was the first time an original song had ever been done by anybody on X-Factor, so it was really something that he agreed to do it.

In the end, Chico didn’t win the show, but after it was over he was picked up straightaway by Syco, they did a clubbier mix of it with Brian Rawlins, and the song went straight to number 1.

He was the first X-Factor runner-up to have a debut single peak right at the top of the charts. Looking back, it still amazes me how fast it all came together. Fate definitely smiles on you sometimes. Chico and I still keep in touch, he’s been up to all kinds of things since then, but that definitely was a week I don’t think either of us are likely to forget.