Rhydian: Katherine Jenkins duet my goal
Sharon Osbourne may not be his number one fan, but Rhydian Roberts has won over millions of X Factor viewers.
LOVE him or loathe him, one thing’s for sure, Rhydian Roberts has one of the best voices on The X Factor.
And whether or not he goes on to win the series, the Welsh finalist has a clear career path – he wants to be the male equivalent of chart-topper Katherine Jenkins.
Classically trained Roberts is regarded as the “Marmite” contestant on the ITV series as viewers are divided on their feelings for him.
From the start, judge Sharon Osbourne voiced her dislike for him and in the initial stages, he came across as arrogant.
However, the 24-year-old, who is from Trallong, near Brecon, is now one of the favourites to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Leona Lewis and take the X Factor crown.
His performance of You Raise Me Up even won over Mr Nasty – head judge Simon Cowell. He told him it was one of the best versions of the song that he’d ever heard.
But whether he’s overall winner or not, Roberts is determined to make it big as a classical singer.
“My lifelong ambition has been to have a record contract,” he says. “I would like a similar career to Katherine (Jenkins) – she trained classically and is a good ambassador for Wales.
“I would love to work with Katherine and it’s been my goal to sing with her before I’m 25 – she’s at the top of her game,” adds Roberts, who reaches that milestone next Valentine’s Day.
“And I would love to sing the National Anthem at the Millennium Stadium before a rugby game.”
Roberts, who is surprisingly softly spoken, trained at a conservatoire in Birmingham and decided to apply for The X Factor as he felt it would be great exposure for him.
“I entered The X Factor because I’d just graduated – it wasn’t for the fame but as a way of getting work in the future. It’s a great opportunity.”
During the initial auditions, although Roberts impressed Cowell and fellow judges Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue, who is now his mentor, Osbourne was not won over by him and made some harsh comments.
“I took it with a pinch of salt but my family was quite upset,” says Roberts, whose mother Angela, father Malcolm and elder brother Gareth offer total support every week.
And he says that his confidence can appear as arrogance.
“As a performer I am confident but that’s my job. When I go out there on stage I have to deliver.”
While many of the other contestants have all revealed their past traumatic experiences which spurred them into entering The X Factor, it’s refreshing to hear Roberts say he’s in it to win it.
“I never entered the show with a sob story – I just want to entertain the public, win the show and get a recording contract at the end.”
So far, Roberts has performed everything from the ballad You Raise Me Up to the rather camp Go West. Tonight, he will sing the West Side Story classic Somewhere.
He says he enjoys the makeovers as much as the singing.
“I have an amazing stylist called Ben who works with (celebrity hairdresser) Nicky Clark – I quite liked the Billy Idol look, although lots of hairspray was needed.”
When asked if he gets on with his rivals, Roberts candidly replies, “By and large yes – there are no real arguments.”
He believes that housewife Niki Evans and school teacher Beverley Trotman both stand a good chance of winning.
“If I don’t win I want Same Difference to win,” he says of brother-and-sister duo Sean and Sarah Smith. “They are cheesy and lovely.”
He was also friendly with fellow Welsh contestant Andy Williams of Newport, who was voted off the show two weeks ago.
“I didn’t expect him to go,” he says.
So what is it that keeps the millions of fans voting for him every week?
“I’m just different I guess – but I’m keeping it completely real. I just want to keep performing to the best of my ability every week.”
The X Factor is on ITV1 tonight from 6.40pm