X Factor 2010: Interview with Simon Cowell

The X Factor kicks off again in just four days and to put you in the mood for the all singing, all dancing extravaganza, we have brought you an interview with show boss Simon Cowell.

Read what he has planned for the 2010 series and how he found working with Katy Perry, Nicole Scherzinger, Pixie Lott, Geri Halliwell and Natalie Imbruglia.

How have the guest judges worked out this year? Have they added a new dynamic to the show?

They have been great – each of them have been different in their own way and bought different perspectives to the auditions.

Do you think sometimes there is a risk of the judges overshadowing contestants?

That’s a really good point, sometimes we have gotten into the habit, and obviously I’m partly responsible for this, of the judges’ personalities being talked about more than the contestants. The judges are there for their opinions, so for me the most important criteria for sitting on a judging panel is, do you actually know what you are talking about?

We’ve been back to Dublin for the first time in a few years – what did you make of the talent there?

I think Louis particularly enjoyed being there – given the chance he’d have put most of the auditionees straight through – probably even before they’d sung. I had no idea what to expect – Louis has told us for years there is more talent in Dublin than anywhere else in the world ….. so we went there because of him.

Which category would you like to mentor this year and why?

They each have their appeal – the winning one basically! Cheryl would be absolutely unbearable if she won again.

Have you had many memorable auditions this year and if so, can you tell us about them?

There have been a lot of memorable ones this year for different reasons – you will know them when you see them. I don’t want to give away too much.

How do you know when you’ve found someone with that rare star quality – X Factor?

Tastes change all the time and I think it can actually change over time. If you look at the pop music world today, it’s completely influenced by Lady Gaga, Glee, Katy Perry. Two years ago it was a very different landscape. And the reason we call the show The X Factor is it’s more than just a singing voice, because if it were only a singing voice we could just as easily make a show where contestants send in tapes and we listen to the voices. All great artists are relevant. They have that steel in their eyes – it’s charisma, personality, being unique, entertaining, all those things rolled into one.

What are you looking for on this year’s show?

Someone who stands out from the crowd. Someone who knows who they are and what they want to be – not people copying an artist who is already out there. I want them to be telling me what music we should be making for people their age – especially the younger ones. They have to be relevant.

Are there any things that auditionees say/do/sing which really annoy you?!

There are certain songs we hear over and over again at auditions and it really puts you off. Jason Mraz, Paulo Nutini, Kings of Leon and a few others….. They can be great songs but when you have heard them 20 times already that day, its off putting. And also I like it when people are totally honest about why they have entered – if you’ve entered because you want to get rich and famous then that’s great.

The audition days are long. How do you maintain your energy throughout the day?

Some days feel longer than others! Honestly though? – occasionally I’ll sleep for ten minutes! I do a lot of my work around 2am so sometimes work till 5am talking to America – or the UK if I’m over there.

How would you sum up this year’s show?

I’m excited about it. It’s different in a lot of ways. Things have moved on and the show will reflect that.

Are you pleased with Joe McElderry’s progress for his new album?

Really pleased, yes. He’s grown in confidence. Some of the music is quite different to what you heard from him last year on the show and I’m really happy for him.

Do we have more surprises to come with the live shows?

Of course, there are new things happening all the time and we change things on a weekly, no, actually, daily basis.

Lisa McGarry

Lisa has been watching reality TV for too long now. She won't do any housework unless 'Big Brother' announces it over the tannoy and everything she does has to be put to a public vote!