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How vocal problems nearly spelled

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12/14/2017 2:50:14 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
Danny O'Donoghue has just been challenged to find the highest note in his vocal range.

Quick as a flash, The Script star springs off the sofa and bounds over to a piano on the top floor of the BBC's Wogan House.

"We can test it out now, if you like," he says, as he works his way up the keyboard, pitching his voice to match each note until he can't go any higher.

"High G!" he exclaims, then descends the scale to find the bottom of his register.

"That's a three octave range," he eventually declares. "Not bad!"

A gregarious and excitable presence, O'Donoghue is especially proud of this moment because, two years ago, he nearly lost his voice for good.

The star had developed painful nodes on his vocal cords because, by his own admission, "I wasn't living the healthiest of lifestyles".

He says: "I was drinking, I was smoking, I was staying out 'til all hours of the morning, then getting up early, doing a radio show, doing a concert in the night-time and constantly getting on planes and trains and not looking after myself.

"And you know what? If you have bad stuff going in, bad stuff's going to come out."

It didn't help, he suggests, that his singing style sucked.

"It was all balls to the wall, veins popping out of my neck, chin out... Just bad technique.

"It was only a matter of time before something bad happened."

O'Donoghue went under the knife in January 2016 but, after two months of living in silence, he discovered his surgery hadn't been a complete success. Gravely, his doctor told him he'd need another operation.

"The first one was fine," he recalls. "The second one was terrifying because I was like, 'Why am I not able to sing? You told me I'd be able to sing after a month.'"

"I played it off like it was an easy thing, but it was awful. Now that I can sing again, I can talk about how terrified I was."

The fear was so bad, in fact, that the star started making a "plan B".

"I would have kept it schtum and gone into production and writing," he says. "You wouldn't have heard singles from The Script any more."

But O'Donoghue is nothing if not a survivor.

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His first shot at fame came in the 1990s, when he and The Script guitarist Mark Sheehan joined the short-lived and rarely-discussed boy band MyTown.

All floppy fringes and spangly jumpsuits, the group had a minor hit with Party All Night in 1999 - but fans of bizarre pop artefacts should seek out Girl In Tears, a toe-curling ballad that poses the question "Did you ever make love to a girl in tears/And wonder why she was crying?"

Needless to say, it wouldn't be released now.

MyTown were unceremoniously dropped in 2001, leaving O'Donoghue and Sheehan adrift in LA.

Rather than return to Dublin, they carved out a living as writers and producers, remixing songs for N'Sync and Britney Spears and playing with TLC. But O'Donoghue still itched to be on stage.

In 2005, he started work on a solo project, which morphed into The Script after drummer Glen Power flew to LA to work on the demos.

Their first album emerged during a turbulent period in which Sheehan's mother and O'Donoghue's father both died. Then Power fractured his skull falling over in a pub toilet and O'Donoghue was rushed to A&E with a collapsed lung.

He was still recovering when the band's first single, We Cry, entered the charts. Within three weeks, the band were back on the road, and in August 2008 their album debuted at number one on both the UK and Irish charts.

After all that hardship, the trio made the most of their success, recording four albums in six years and circling the world several times over.

They struck gold with their third single, Breakeven, which became a hit in America and is now taught at the prestigious Berklee College of Music - much to the bemusement of O'Donoghue, who says he's largely unaware of the "rules" of songwriting.

"But if the guys at Berklee are seeing this beautiful mathematics in it, then yeah we definitely meant it!"