Empty Seats to Top of the Album Chart; He Triumphed in Fame Academy, Played a Few Low-Key Gigs. and Vanished. Now David Sneddon Is a Leading Songwriter, Making a Mint, and Paired Up with Rising Superstar Lana del Rey

Daily Mail (London), February 4, 2012 | Go to article overview

Empty Seats to Top of the Album Chart; He Triumphed in Fame Academy, Played a Few Low-Key Gigs. and Vanished. Now David Sneddon Is a Leading Songwriter, Making a Mint, and Paired Up with Rising Superstar Lana del Rey


Byline: by Jim McBeth

HE arrived on our television screens one October evening in 2002. Within ten weeks, his soulful voice and winning smile catapulted the wannabe pop star from nowhere to national celebrity as winner of the BBC's Fame Academy talent show.

As David Sneddon accepted the applause of millions, the personable Scot faced a choice between two paths leading in opposite directions.

One led - potentially - to all he believed he had ever dreamt of. The second offered a swift trip back to obscurity.

Tradition dictated his final destination would depend on the notoriously short memories of reality show audiences that are willing to pick up a phone but rarely loyal enough to sustain the aspirations of their favourite.

The Renfrewshire-born singer decided to take no chances. In spite of a starburst of early success - four hit singles, a chart-topping album and record sales of 300,000 - the singersongwriter, who had gone from playing halffilled local halls to supporting the likes of Bryan Adams, confounded everyone by walking away.

No record producer cancelled his contract.

There had been no Simon Cowell-esque Svengali to hail him as the new Elton John, before taking his pound of flesh and transferring his predatory affection to the Next Big Thing.

Uncomfortable as a performer and unwilling to be moulded into another pretty boy singing pop-pap, he simply decided that his future - now assured by royalties and revenue from record sales - lay behind the scenes.

There, he embarked on a new career that led to wealth and respectability as a songwriter for big record labels and artists who, unlike him, are willing to put up with the 'front of house' pressure.

While his fans could be forgiven for believing he had crashed and burned like other hot-housed 'pop stars' such as The X Factor's Steve Brookstein and Sneddon's fellow Scot Leon Jackson, nothing could be further from the truth.

Unlike other talent-show winners, Sneddon was not a cipher. He triumphed on Fame Academy by performing his own songs.

Now the songwriter, who has 'officially' been a multimillionaire for least five years, says he was happy to accept his 15 minutes of fame - and admit that he didn't care for it.

Yet now it seems the retreat from publicity has been stymied for the shy Paisley 'buddie' by a return to the limelight he fled a decade ago.

ONE of his songs, National Anthem - composed with writing partner James Bauer-Mein - features on the debut album of Lana Del Rey, the hottest new singing star on the planet. The New Yorker has already topped the charts in 14 countries and her album is expected to be the UK No 1 by tomorrow.

Yet Sneddon's involvement is no one-off triumph. Since he and Bauer-Mein set up The Nexus, a song-writing 'house' in London, they have been working for top record labels, composing songs for artists in Britain and abroad, and racking up chart successes in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. If, at the age of 33, Sneddon chose to retire, he need never again worry about paying the bills. Yet early retirement is unlikely for the Scot, who lives in London and recently became engaged to his long-time girlfriend, television producer Eleanor Roffe.

Of his latest songwriting triumph, he says: 'We got along really well with Lana and we had a lot of fun working with her. She is fantastic and we'd love to be involved in the future.' That would appear to be a foregone conclusion. Del Rey's management has suggested strongly that Sneddon and Bauer-Mein will 'collaborate' on the star's much-anticipated second album.

'Our managers know each other,' adds Sneddon knowingly. 'She was working with various writers and producers and we organised a session to see how we'd all get along.' They got along well enough for the singer to include Sneddon's song on the most popular album in the world. But surely being back on the periphery has reignited a taste for the limelight? …

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