Simon Cowell Previews THE X FACTOR - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Simon Cowell Previews THE X FACTOR

February 8, 2011 by  

Do you think you have THE X FACTOR?

Auditions will kick off soon, so make sure to stay informed on where and when by registering at or

What can potential contestants expect?

THE X FACTOR producer/judge Simon Cowell did a conference call with reporters this week to set the record straight…

Yes, the prize amount really is $5 million.

Why such a big prize for the show’s first season?

“The reason we decided to do this [amount of money] was to show the people who are auditioning for the [series] that sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is,” Cowell explained. “By putting up that kind of prize money, it’s a massive, massive risk, but it’s also an incredible incentive. I think it puts everybody, rightly, under an enormous amount of pressure, because I didn’t want to go into this show without feeling a certain amount of pressure. With pressure, you have to find a star. I also did it because I believe I can find a star.”

Any jitters for Cowell, following said pressure?

“You know, I’m nervous, but I’m also confident that it was the right thing to do,” he continued. “I think it should be a life-changing prize. Just to be clear, this is not dressed-up $5 million; this is a guaranteed $5 million payable to the winner. The recording costs, the marketing costs, the video costs are completely separate to that. It will be paid over five years, $1 million a year for five years, and on top of the Sony label getting behind the artist, we will also be offering financial support for the winner so they don’t have to invest their money, look after their money, because that’s a lot of cash.”

The judging process will be different than what you see on AMERICAN IDOL or AMERICA’S GOT TALENT.

“The reason we replaced IDOL with THE X FACTOR in the U.K. to begin with is that I got bored of just judging,” explained Cowell. “I got frustrated when I kept criticizing people’s song choices, what they wore or what they didn’t do right. I wanted to make a show where I actually — along with my fellow judges — could help the competitors on a weekly basis, because that’s what I do in my real job. If you work for a record company, you work with the artist on everything – their song choices, their stylists, their choreographers – and it made sense to me that we should do that on a TV show.”

This means that not only are the judges critiquing the performers, but they’re also weighing in on their fellow judges’ mentoring decisions, something Cowell appreciates.

“It’s definitely more interesting for me because I have a lot more to do,” he said. “Secondly, it’s an interesting thing, to be judged as well as the competitor. When you lose an artist, part of you has lost as well. When your artist wins, you win. It really does become incredibly competitive between the judges once the competition starts. In a way, they’re more competitive than the artist, because we don’t pretend to like each other.”

So that means Cowell’s AMERICAN IDOL costar Paula Abdul could be the perfect foil for him on THE X FACTOR, right?

“Well, I’m a massive fan of Paula,” Cowell said. “It’s quite unusual -– when you work with somebody for as long as I did with Paula, we were friends on the show for I’d say 80% of the time, and then interestingly, afterwards we’ve been in regular contact. So I’m a big fan of hers. [However] I’m not going to say today on this call who we are going to confirm or who we’re not going to confirm [as judges] because the truth is, we honestly haven’t made our minds up yet. We’re talking to a number of people, and I expect to make an announcement I would say within three to four weeks –- it might be a little bit longer, I’m not sure -– as to who the panel are going to be.”

The auditions will immediately place the contestants on stage in front of a large audience.

The days of Cowell sitting in a cramped room and judging potential contestants in a “bubble” are over.

“We made a decision a couple of years ago in the U.K. that I couldn’t fit in an audition room with two other people and judge properly,” he said. “I’ve done it too many years and I wanted to change things up. So I made a decision that we would change the auditions so that each person or group would now have to audition not just in front of the judges, but in fact 4,000 or 5,000 people in an arena. Essentially, it was supposed to be similar to them doing their first concert.”

And like a concert, the audience’s reaction can make or break a contestant.

“What it does, it really helped me to show who could handle the pressure, who was a good performer, and also, it was vital that I got audience feedback as well,” Cowell said. “There have been many, many times on these shows when I’ve hated somebody and I’ve practically had a mutiny going on behind me, where the audience went crazy that we didn’t put them through, and they have changed our minds. I’ve also seen, for instance with Susan Boyle, how an audience lifted her, and I think they were the ones responsible for turning her into a star. I don’t believe Susan Boyle would have gotten through in the old-fashioned audition method. I think it was the crowd and seeing them give her a standing ovation which is what made that clip so special.”

So unlike IDOL which isolates the contestants from live performances until they reach the semi-finals, THE X FACTOR will use them as a tool to see who has the qualities they’re looking for.

“It really does help me make a decision because the person you want winning this competition or the group you want winning the competition, you want them to be performing in front of 5,000 or 10,000 people afterwards,” noted Cowell. “I need to know right at the beginning whether they can cope with that. At the same time, where it can be good, obviously it can be brutal as well. If it doesn’t go well, it’s a very intimidating process. I think it has to be like that.”

Age ain’t nothing but a number.

In order to widen the potential talent pool of competitors, THE X FACTOR producers decided that contestants can be as young as 12-years-old. And while that might appear to be too young to compete on such a grand scale, Cowell has confidence it can work out fine with the right circumstances.

“You know, I thought long and hard about this, to be honest with you,” he said. “I think probably five or six years ago, I wouldn’t have done it. Through experience, when I worked on BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT and what happened this year on AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, [I saw that] there are some incredibly talented young kids out there, and because I work for a record label, over the last 12 months, we’ve started to see a trend of what kids this age are capable of doing, whether they can withstand the pressure.”

So, can they?

“I went on record years ago saying I think it’s wrong to have people around this age doing it, and now I think times have changed,” he continued. “You have to make a case-by-case decision based on them as a person, whether they’re capable of doing this kind of thing, what their parental support is like. We had to make that decision [with] Jackie [who was the] AMERICA’S GOT TALENT runner-up. Once we were satisfied she was happy, the parents were happy, I think it was the right decision, and she’s on her way to a very, very successful career.”

And it won’t be just the young kids potentially making waves. Since there is no age restriction, people who were too old for IDOL can get their big shot here.

“I think it makes the competition more exciting, that maybe you’re going to find a 12-, 13-, 14-year-old genius performer who could be competing against a 45-year-old,” Cowell said. “One of the biggest criticisms I had over the years were people in their 30s, 40s and 50s who said, ‘I have what it takes. I haven’t been given a chance. I know I have a phenomenal voice, but I haven’t had a chance to enter a competition.’ I used to hear this over and over again. This is why we took the upper age limit off completely. You just can’t put an age cap on talent. I think there are a lot of people who’ve missed an opportunity. I like the fact that they bring experience with them. I think it makes the audition, in a way, more interesting because you could argue it’s their last chance, so there’s more at stake. Perhaps they’re going to give a bit more.”

Will you watch THE X FACTOR? Maybe even try out for it?!

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2 Responses to “Simon Cowell Previews THE X FACTOR”

  1. RPA on February 8th, 2011 8:21 pm

    Thanks, Marisa. Lots of new information here. The prize is bigger than in the UK (1 million pounds) and I’m surprised to read that the recording costs are separated from the big prize. This is very enticing. Although I’m not so keen on having 12 year old kids competing against adults.

    I hope Simon brings British beauty singer Cheryl Cole to X Factor USA as a judge. She’s great.

    I’m very excited for The X Factor.

  2. SharonC on February 8th, 2011 8:52 pm

    I didn’t really know much about the show until reading this article and except for the curiosity of what Simon Cowell was doing now, I wasn’t too interested in watching. The show actually sounds pretty interesting and I’ll likely tune in now. Thanks for the overview, very helpful.