He’s won a Grammy and has worked with the likes of Aretha Franklin, so who better to teach our final 16 how to express the true soul of a song?
Simon Cowell, The Spice Girls, and even our very own Gary Barlow - the list of music icons Eliot Kennedy has worked with in his starry career reads like the Who Is Who of Pop. So we’re not surprised the judges have hired Eliot Kennedy as part of the ay-may-zing talent coaches to get the final 16 Live Show ready in the performance stakes.
Teaching the contestants’ how to understand their songs emotionally and to connect with the audience through vocal coaching and artist development, Eliot gives us the low-down on this year’s contestants and his X Factor mission.
Tell us about your work, El…
As a songwriter and record producer I have had several number one hits with artists like The Spice Girls, Take That and Aretha Franklin. I’ve actually worked with Gary Barlow for over 20 years now, we wrote Everything Changes together. My work has mainly been about working with brand new artists and developing them, which is also my role on The X Factor. Alongside vocal coaching I’m helping the artists to really connect with the audience in that little window of time that they’ve got during each Live Show.
Wow! What’s it like working with Gary?
Gary is a national treasure and he has earned every single bit of the respect he gets with his pure talent and hard work. He stands for everything that an artist should be in this country.
So what’s the best thing you’ll teach the Finalists?
The real job of an artist is to transfer emotion through music and song. I take their perception of music and performing and twist it to make them focus a little more on what the song needs, rather than what the singer needs.
How are you going to help the Groups?
My job with the Groups is to really make their personalities shine as brightly as possible, so they develop a bond with the audience – this is always trickier for the Groups. With the new bands, it helps that there are no out of control egos there – they are working really hard on being in a team.
So what do you think of the Girls?
The Girls are the toughest category. All four of them could win this competition, they are that strong. Janet has a unique quality in her voice and that beautiful accent of hers. Sophie is one of the most interesting singers I’ve heard for years, I’m such a fan of hers. Amelia is like a firecracker that’s just dying to go off, and then we have Misha, who is this powerhouse of a singer and incredible rapper.
You know Gary! How will the Boys find him?
The Boys are really special this year. They absolutely adore Gary, they respect him for the artist that he is. He is such a strong mentor, he absolutely cares about these guys. He spends quality time with them, playing the guitar and guiding them at the ultimate level.
Now we want your Overs opinion?
The Overs have historically been a problem group, but not this year. Johnny is awesome and he just connects with people and when he sings, he reminds me of Shirley Bassey – he’s got that sort of dramatic delivery. Sami, well, that girl sing and she’s got an electric personality. One of my personal favourites is Jonjo. Not only is he a good singer, but he is an amazing human being.
Spill the beans, what’s Kitty really like?
Kitty is a really complex individual. I don’t think I have ever come across anyone with as much unbridled ambition and passion. I’m excited to see where she goes from here because she is a lose cannon in all kinds of ways, but she is also an incredible powerhouse and can’t be underestimated.