SINGER Emeli Sande has criticised the "exploitation" of contestants on TV talent shows such as The X Factor and The Voice and described them as "heart-breaking".

The best-selling Scottish singer has also called for TV pop talent shows to feature more songwriting.

Sande, 27, has written songs for Susan Boyle, Leona Lewis, Alicia Keys and Rihanna, as well as selling more than a million records of her own.

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The singer-songwriter told Radio Times magazine: "I just wish there was more (new) songwriting on those shows.

"And when they exploit dreams, that's heartbreaking.

"That's what p***** me off.

"Don't do that to people just so we can watch it on TV."

Her words echo those of another Scottish singer, Annie Lennox, who has also criticised the TV shows.

Lennox, who said such shows are "dangerous and cruel", has said: "You wouldn't find a Joni Mitchell on X Factor, that's not the place.

"X Factor is a specific thing for people that want to go through that process, it's a factory, you know, and it's owned and stitched-up by puppet masters."

However, in the new interview Sande adds: "If people get a chance to do something they dream of, you can't be snobby towards that."

Sande, from Alford, Aberdeenshire, recently travelled to Mexico City to make an ITV documentary about Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist, whose portrait she has tattooed on her right arm.

"When I moved to London from Glasgow, it was my first real liberation, a feeling of: OK, I'm not a doctor any more," the singer and former medical student said.

"So my Frida tattoo was a real statement that I was making the commitment to being an artist. Because you can't have a tattoo like this if you're a doctor -you have to wear short sleeves."

Sande, who now lives just outside London, would not be drawn on her views on Scotland's forthcoming independence referendum.

Several artists have openly backed the Yes vote for an independent Scotland.

Born in Sunderland to an English mother, and a Zambian-born father, Sande spent a few months in Zambia before her parents moved back to the UK, eventually settling in the north east of Scotland.

Sande's Our Version of Events was the best selling UK album in 2012.

She said: "There's Scottish pride and feeling like you're British - but I don't really feel anything.

"I'm a bit Zambian, a bit Cumbrian, a bit Scottish, live in London... so I'm a bit like a gypsy to be honest.

"So I don't know. I'm too ignorant of the facts to even make a decision, especially publicly."

Simon Cowell, the judge and producer of X Factor and Pop Idol, has recently defended the format of his shows.

He said: "Why do people get upset that there is a show that gives people who can't get a record deal a chance to have a record deal?

"Everyone's had a pop at it, and I criticise people on the show so you've got to expect it back in return.

"But you know what? They all secretly watch it... they're watching it every night."