So okay, it was a conference call. But Simon had a lot to say and some real interesting revelations.
The X Factor premieres on FOX on September 21 at 8p/7c, with an elimination round the following night. It will air on Wednesday nights in that time slot from then on to the finale. The prize is an unprecedented five million dollar contract with Syco/Sony music.
There are four judges: the mighty Simon Cowell himself, Paula Abdul yes, THAT Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, and L.A. Reid, record producer for LaFace records and sponsor of such melodic luminaries as Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey.
The host of The X Factor is a handsome fellow named Steve Jones.
As a competitive reality show junkie, I’ve been anxiously awaiting this new show though I’ve got questions as to how it's going to filter the best of the best of America’s amateur singers.
Already there is, of course, American Idol. A new entrant this year which was somewhat mesmerizing was The Voice. There is also America’s Got Talent which has plenty of singer entrants and they win more often than not. Currently there is some kind of crazy karaoke contest ongoing and hey, karaoke singers are people, too.
Simon answered this and other interesting questions during a conference call that included conferees from Style Weekly, Yahoo and the NY Daily News. The swanky of the world were represented by yours truly for The Morton Report as I stand up and take my bow.
I listened carefully to the questions and they were good ones. Next time, folks, my fear will be behind me and I shall venture a question of my own. All for the swanky people of the planet, thank me very much.
Simon was disenchanted with his gig on American Idol, both for the length of his time on the series as it grew old, but also because of his belief that winners were voted in based more on popularity than any greater talent or stage charisma. The mentoring on American Idol was superficial, as Simon asserts, mostly for the viewers instead of the singing contenders. The X Factor will have the judges mentoring the winners on through to a record contract and astonishing success if the stars and the planets align as they should.
Cowell expressed great joy at having Paula back by his side and he did sneak in a little snark about Paula and his other X Factor co-judge, Nicole. He said having Paula back by his side is like getting your old dog back from the pound. Nicole, Simon asserted brazenly, is a bit self-centered and she most astonishingly managed to change her accent with the change of the shooting locale. Look for some sparks between Nicole and Simon in this series if I’m any accurate reader between the lines.
While Simon didn’t outright acknowledge any particular song he would ban from competition, he did mention a few he absolutely abhorred: “I Could Fly,” “At Last,” “Unchained Melody,” and a tune I’ve never heard of, “Ordinary People.”
The X Factor is going to be a lot about the mentoring process as much as a grand popularity contest. Each judge is assigned a genre and age range and they will be responsible for guiding their charges through to the pinnacle of stardom. Simon emphasized that the singer’s “back story,” i.e. the story of their lives up to the contest, their dreams, their goals, their prior heartbreaks, will be as much a part of any victory as their singing talent. I’m not at all convinced this should matter all that much but Cowell is adamant that a singing star is a product of both talent and a life history.
When asked what he learned from his stint on American Idol that he will apply to this new endeavor, Cowell responded, as I smiled, that he learned to be honest, that in the end the audience really wanted honesty, that the talent themselves benefit from brutal honesty more than cowardly good wishes and sugar-shock sweet assessments.
This competitive reality show junkie looks forward to watching The X Factor and will be reporting in via this column regularly. As for Simon, my sense is that this is his creation, that he fought a reluctant FOX to usher it to the airwaves, that he will do everything to insure its success.
I raise a rhetorical glass to Mr. Cowell and wish him well.
Below, a promo video to give some insight to what’s coming soon to a TV near you:
If you've got an insight to share, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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