C harlie Healy auditioned for ‘X Factor’ in 2009 as part of Harmony Hood, managing to get to the judges’ houses stage of the competition. In 2010 he returned to the show as a member of Nu Status that made it through to boot camp. Returning again in 2011 as part of The Keys, Charlie was eventually asked by mentor Tulisa to join The Risk – who went on to perform in the live shows. The group were favourites to win until a change to their line-up sealed their fate. They then became the most-booked act in ‘X Factor’ history within 48 hours of leaving the show.

charlieNow pursuing a solo career, Charlie finds himself on the other side of the judging panel for the new BBC One show, ‘All Together Now’. Presented by comedian Rob Beckett, the programme pits the hopeful contestants against ‘The 100’ – a judges’ panel sourced from all areas of the music industry and led by former Spice Girl, Geri Horner. Instead of simply saying yes or no, the judges vote by singing along if they like what they hear. Given the wide variety of judges’ musical preferences and backgrounds, the contestants must work hard to get them on their feet. With new material in the pipeline, Charlie spoke to Fyne Times about the pressures of ‘X Factor’ and the unique new talent show…

Given the format of ‘All Together Now’, song choice must be really important.

Definitely – as with all auditions really. Sometimes song choice can carry you; if you’ve not got the greatest vocal, sometimes a great song can go in your favour. However, with pure class vocals, which is what I was personally all about [for ‘All Together Now’], it didn’t matter whether it was R&B, pop, hip-hop, or opera – I was moved by so many different genres. A woman or a man singing opera moved me as much as one of the greatest Motown songs. So it doesn’t always matter about song choice, but if the voice isn’t doing it, the song choice could sway somebody.

You must be able to empathise with the contestants.

100%. You’re so nervous up there. After ‘X Factor’, doing the tour, doing Manchester Arena, London O2 – never once was it as scary as being in front of the judges. It’s just alien. You’re out of your comfort zone. You’re not there singing to a crowd, you’re there singing to people who are actually just there to judge you. It’s not right, it’s weird. When [a contestant] is singing (on any show), and their whole life’s ambitions and dreams are on that one audition, of course they’re going to be a bit shaky here or there. That’s why I empathise so much, because when I first did it, I’d never done anything like that before in my life – I was shaking to my boots. Even on the ‘X Factor’ live shows every week, I didn’t care about 10 million people watching, I cared about those four judges sitting there – you know they’re going to absolutely crucify you if you do anything wrong.

TV talent shows divide people. There are those that love them and those who think they’re damaging to the music industry.

Each to their own, but I don’t see what the problem is. James Arthur: is he not incredible? But who heard him before ‘X Factor’? Nobody. How can you knock him for wanting to better his life? Come on. Not everybody gets that break doing it “the hard way”; it just doesn’t happen for everybody. James Arthur deserves to be where he is, he’s so talented, and it’s thanks to ‘X Factor’ that he got the publicity.

Do you think it is a British thing – where we want to see that people have “put the work in” rather than got somewhere quickly?

In America, they embrace talent like Kelly Clarkson – they don’t care where they’ve come from. They just hear their voice and appreciate it, and I think for some reason that’s not how [the British] roll.

You must have other projects on as well.

I’m a published writer now and have a publishing deal. I’m supporting Jason Derulo in September at Genting Arena, Birmingham. And I’m working on an album which will be dropping later this year. I’m in a good place. I’ve found a nice sound that I think represents me – I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

‘All Together Now’ airs on Saturday nights, 7:15pm, BBC One.

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