An exclusive interaction with Simon Cowell, creator of the show X Factor
The global singing competition series, X Factor has re-upped its judging panel for its new season. Coming back are show creator Simon Cowell along with Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh. Once again, hopefuls will tackle two audition rounds, starting with closed rooms, in which they find themselves eyeball-to-eyeball in front of the judges. Season 14 also sees the return of the Six Chair Challenge, culminating in live shows that will air later this year. We sat Simon Cowell down for an exclusive chat —
It’s the 14th year of X Factor, are you excited? 14 years? Wow, that’s gone quick! I’m excited.
I always think that if you do these shows and find some decent people, then it’s a fun show. It feels different this year.
You’re shaking things up again this year in terms of the format of the show — what’s going on?
When you’ve done it for 14 years, you can’t keep making the same show every year. I think you have to realise what the contestants are in it for, why do so many people enter? I think if you just make the same show each year it becomes boring and predictable.So you try and make changes for the better, not everything works, but some ideas we’ve got for the live shows are going to be good.
What was it like having Alesha Dixon on the panel for a few days?
She was amazing. She was going to be on the show in the first place before BGT. She was brilliant; I have to tell you, seamless. I would hire her on my record label, she’s that good.
So she gave Nicole a run for her money?
Yeah, and that’s a good thing! The great thing about Nicole is you throw out the bait and she takes it every time! Nicole’s been good this year. She came over to my house in LA when we were talking about her coming back and I said apart from being great on TV, what she did with James Arthur was amazing. So as crazy as she is, when she’s on it and likes someone, she’s brilliant.
Does weight, appearance and age matter when launching a new artist?
Less so now. If anything, I think it can be a virtue. I pride myself on the show, where we can, that we don’t have any rules, no age limits. I don’t believe in that. More and more now, in the charts you’re seeing people have huge amounts of success where years ago, if you had to tick certain things off a list, you would not pick them. It’s because they are real, genuine and talented. They are working in the real world. This show has to be the same thing, otherwise you’re just going to look an idiot.
What is the character trait in an artist that you hate most?
Being a puppet. I find that the most frustrating and boring. If they can’t stand up for themselves, know the difference between a good song and a bad song, or if they allow anything to happen around them — it’s frustrating because no decent artiste would allow that to happen. I like people who stand up for themselves.
How does music influence your mood?
That’s a good question. I was only thinking today that there are times when it can be really irritating, but then there are times when you hear a song and it’s the best feeling in the world. There was one girl during Six Chair who sang this dreadful version of Wannabe. If it was me, I would have stopped it after 20 seconds. I literally had to put my fingers in my ears, it was that bad. Then other people came out and did an amazing song, they’re connected with it, they chose it for a reason and that’s the best feeling in the world.
When you close your door at home and you’re just Simon, not a celebrity in the public eye, do you dance?
No! I’ve always dreaded being the dad at the wedding! Now I have a son I will never, ever put Eric in that position. He actually makes me laugh because he’s a terrible dancer. He loves dancing and makes me laugh because he has a dance if he wants M&M’s or if he’s watching the film Trolls, he goes crazy. He cracks me up. I tell him he’s the worst dancer and he goes, ‘I know!’ and just carries on dancing.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Number one, you have to say happy. Number two, relevant. If you achieve those two things and success then you’re in a good place because this business is tough. If I ever lost my taste, or the ability to spot an artiste or a hit record, then I’d stop really quickly. I wouldn’t try and hang on. But because I am still almost obsessed with the idea of signing new talent, finding new talent, and I still enjoy it as much as I used to, I hope to still be doing this in five or 10 years’ time. Once you cross that middle line, if you’re still successful, you can use your experience to hopefully find the next person who is going to do my job. That is as fulfilling as finding an artiste. You know, someone who starts off as an intern and ten years later is running your record label — that’s as valuable as finding an artiste. I’d get a
real kick out of that.
Watch X-Factor Season 14 every Monday and Tuesday at 10 PM on Vh1