X Factor’s host Dermot O'Leary on working with Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger
Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger return as judges on The X Factor: The Band – where either a girl group or boy band will battle it out to be crowned the nation’s new pop sensations. We got in touch with host Dermot O'Leary who spoke to us about the show, judges and what to expect. Excerpts:
Were you surprised when you were told about Simon’s new plan for X Factor: The Band?
We didn’t have as long to prepare but it went really smoothly. There are no bells and whistles in the first auditions. It’s properly stripped back with Simon in his own office behind his own desk. There’s something quite raw about it. Simon is just doing what he does best, which is being a brilliant label boss. Then we have these industry experts like Naughty Boy and Ella Eyre giving their opinions and advice. I think we’ve really hit on something. I think everyone ups their game when they’re under a bit of pressure and it feels really exciting to be a part of too.
Simon’s well known for changing things at the last minute anyway, so maybe the show didn’t come as a surprise…
Definitely. I don’t think it’s the way he necessarily means to be, he’s just quite instinctive. And he’s the boss, so it means circumstances can change quite quickly depending on his instincts.
The speed of it will be a big challenge for the groups. By the time One Direction came third, they had been singing together for weeks.
Yeah, and in fact, the real hard work for One D started in earnest after the final.
What’s really interesting here is that we’re auditioning people who have very definite ideas of who they are. That might make it harder, but ultimately more rewarding, to put the bands together.
The modern auditionee already has their own music out there, sometimes they have a profile, and they know what they want to bring to the creative process, so matching people up might be challenging. But that’s much better than guys turning up not knowing one end of the microphone from the other and not knowing what they want to sing.
What do you make of the judging line-up - just Simon and Nicole this time?
We’ve got in Nicole, one of the greatest vocalists in this country, and I’m going to say ‘this country’ because we have kind of adopted her. She can do West End and she’s a recording artist and she’s an all-rounder. Her performance with The Pussycat Dolls on the Celebrity final was incredible, and I’ve watched her bring the house down when she was in ‘Cats’.
Then you’ve got Simon who’s still got fire in his belly. He still wants to find a star, he’s not just going through the motions. So they’re a great duo.
Can X Factor ever recreate what happened with One D, or was that a ‘once in a lifetime’ moment?
I think the fact it’s happened means it can happen again. I always think lightning can strike twice. But it was a special moment, they were who they were, they were talented and incredibly hard-working which in many ways is more important.
In that regard, I definitely see similarities between them and Little Mix. Little Mix was probably a bit more in sync because they had similar music tastes and they could dance. With the boys it was, ‘We can’t dance, we’ve got our own styles, we’re not going to start wearing matching clothes’. That was part of the appeal.
I saw them a few years ago in Pasadena and - in the best possible way - it was like five mates who wandered onto the stage and picked up guitars and started playing.
That naturalness coupled with it being the early stages of social media led to what it led to.
So you don’t think bands need extra skills compared to soloists - such as dancing or playing instruments?
I honestly think they don’t. The hardest thing for a band, in my experience on the show, is blending those voices. They can all have great voices but not be able to harmonise and then it doesn’t work.
It’s also about personalities - who’s the most creative, who’s the hardest working, can they make those personalities blend into a functioning band?
And by that I don’t mean who’s Scary Spice, who’s Sporty Spice - it’s just about can they work together in a very practical way.
December 16-19 at 9 pm on Vh1 India.