Have you heard of The X Factor? It's kinda supposed to be like the old American Idol, but better and with more Pepsi commercials in the middle of each episode? In the off-chance the media blitz hasn't found you in your cave, judge Simon Cowell took a press call to answer the burning questions that we lowly Americans have about his new series (debuting tonight on Fox) and even took the time to trash a few of his competitors.
On the songs he's sick of hearing
"I Believe I Could Fly" is pretty high up there, "At Last" -- I think I'm now allergic to that song, and everybody seems to think "Unchained Melody" is my favorite song of all time. I think somebody said that as a joke, because it's not, and I can't hear that anymore. And Jason Mraz, that hit he had a few years ago ["I'm Yours"], I cannot listen to that anymore, I mean as soon as they start... oh, and I'll tell you another one, "Ordinary People" by John Legend, because they always try and sing it like that version and it's never as good, and I have to stop it now after about five seconds.
On working with Paula again
Well, what was interesting is that Paula can be a bit wacky at times, but Nicole actually wasn't far behind in a fantastically self-centered way, which she wasn't aware of, which I found really amusing. There was another part of the auditions where every city we went to, and again Nicole wasn't aware of this, she changed her accent; when she was in New York she had this kind of Brooklyn thing going on and then when she went to Dallas she became this southern belle. I mean she just changes every city you go into.
And with Paula the great thing about working with her is that within about five minutes of filming, she's not aware that the cameras are on anymore and she'll fight with you over something sometimes important, but often not. And that's what I like about her; she is prepared to argue. So it's like getting an old dog back from the rescue pound; it's kind of grateful to see you and the relationship is back intact.
On working with Randy again in the future
I miss Randy, because he really is a good friend. Maybe we'll just get him a couple of front row seats every week and he can just do his dog-barking thing.
On American vs. British audiences
I would say the American audiences are more vocal, that when they like someone they let you know, and they certainly let you know when they disagree with you. There were a few occasions where we had to -- otherwise I think I may have got seriously injured -- bring back some contestants we said no to because the audience wanted them through, because we did say to them you're sort of like the fifth judge here. So it was fun and everywhere we went the crowds were good. Better in the evenings, because you could feel a lot of them were drunk so they were louder, and I like that. I might do that for the live shows, just make everybody drink before they come in.
On the suggestion swapping their Pepsi sponsor for an booze vendor instead
100%. I'd do it.
On The Voice and its mentoring process
Well they didn't do it as well as us, if I'm being honest with you, and you will genuinely see the difference, I think, on this show. I kind of expected them to do something like that, but that's the nature of the game when you make reality shows. But it is a necessary part of the format that you really do mentor these contestants. And look, it's not just what you do during the show; anyone can mentor. The point is can you mentor someone through the show and actually create a star. So you're going to have to judge X Factor on what we do compared to what they did on The Voice.
On why winning American Idol doesn't necessarily mean anything in the real world
I think it goes back partly to the mentoring process, and it was a huge reason why in the U.K. I left Idol and started X Factor, because I used to get frustrated that we as people who work in the music business weren't allowed to do anything with the contestants on a week-by-week basis and they would make these awful decisions. And I do think that if you have the right artist and they have the right person working with them you can start to demonstrate on the show each week the kind of record you'd be releasing after you hopefully won the competition.
And that's why I think some of these contestants haven't done well, because they win because of popularity, not because of having a unique talent they've demonstrated on a week-by-week basis. And that's why you have to update the process; you have to do something different and you have to take risks. So we'll wait and see and see what happens.
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