Ben Kelly wows audiences on The Voice

Ben Kelly - tipped for great things.
Ben Kelly - tipped for great things.

Derry singer Ben Kelly said he is “floating on air” after his appearance on new TV talent show on Saturday launched a social media frenzy which saw his name trending on Twitter worldwide.

The 22-year-old Culmore man’s performance of the Elton John classic ‘Rocket Man’ also saw viewing figures for the new TV series peak at 9.86million viewers.

“The reaction has been crazy,” Ben told the ‘Journal’. “Before the show I had said to my sister ‘Imagine if I get trending on Twitter’ never imagining it would happen - but I’m told for 20 minutes on Saturday night I was the number 2 trend worldwide.”

Twitter burst into life as soon as the local singer started singing - with scores of comments following throughout his performance and well into Sunday and Monday.

Ben was congratulated on hi soulful and spirited performance by people from all over the city, Ireland and the UK with Derry Glee star Damian McGinty getting in on the act, tweeting to his half a million followers: “Very proud of my man @BenKellyMusic on the voice UK tonight. Was only a matter of time before he was recognised for his brilliance.”

Ben said: “Before the show I joked with my sister that it would be great if I was trending on Twitter and we thought maybe the best I would do would be to get the song ‘Rocket Man’ trending. We never expected the reaction we got. No way. I couldn’t even look at it at first.”

As revealed in the Journal on Friday he former Lumen Christi pupil found himself in the enviable position of having to choose from more than one coach to lead him through the next round. In the end he had all four coaches vying to work with him, with Script frontman Danny O’Donoghue describing him as the finished article.

The decision over who he would go with was one Ben had thought about carefully, before even getting to the auditions and without knowing if anyone would want him on their team.

“I was very tempted to go with Tom Jones. He is the ultimate showman - and has been around for a long time.

“But I had to make my decision tactically. I considered the fact Jessie J has built her career in the way I have to build mine - through YouTube and Twitter. She’s contemporary and knows how to get noticed. Vocally, she is probably the closest to me - which I had take into consideration too. And she knows how to push me.”

Ben admits he was nearly swayed by the persuasive powers of Black Eyed Peas frontman, Will.i.Am who he counts among his favourite artists. “If you watched the show, you would have seen a look on my face where I thought I was going to cry. I just couldn’t decide, but I had to go with the decision I had thought out before the show as I knew that was for the right reasons.”

He didn’t make his decision however before asking Jessie J why she had waited so long to turn around and show her interest.

“She told me she wanted to me make me work it,” he laughed.

For Ben the highlight of Saturday night was watching the judges’ faces as they heard him start to sing - something that, due to the nature of the blind audition process he did not see on the night.

“That was amazing,” he said. “They got it as soon as I started to sing.”

His focus is now on what comes next. He has already filmed the ‘Battle Rounds’ where he pitted against a fellow contestant from Jessie’s team. Only five of her initial ten choices can make it through the live shows.

He said his Price-Tag mentor was tough to work with. “She pushed me so far out of my comfort zone it was unreal”.

“Jessie didn’t want anyone on her team who feels like they already know it all or have it made. She wants me to work for whatever I get.

“She has come up through the ranks and has had a lock of knocks along the way - she pushes me so hard. Audiences will be really surprised by the song she chooses for me in the Battle Rounds. She isn’t there to give me an easy ride - she believes in tough love and wants to get the very best from her artists.”

“She is a tough person to work with - she pushes and pushes and wants me to work hard at it. I admire that. I’ll keep working.”

The Battle Rounds will be screened on April 20 and viewers will then be able to find out if Ben makes it through the live shows and is given the chance to win a recording contract with Universal Music.