Simon Cowel Post-Hollywood Conference Call

I listened in on Simon Cowell’s conference call, tonight. Check out this complete transcript.  Some interesting stuff here…

Will a girl win this year? It depends what she’s like  We’ve had a few years of guys winning the show and I would say there is a better chance of a girl winning this year than last. You want somebody who represents what’s going on at the moment, I’d love to find a taylor swift, somebody who is relevant, rather than just a contest winner.

How often are you overruled by the other judges? This was a difficult one because it all happened so quickly.  In hindsight it would have been much easier but it couldn’t happen this way, of having 5 or six days to really review the performances but we had a limited time and we made decisions relatively quickly and then when you watch it back, you think, I could have made different decisions here.

This happens on the shows I do in other countries. There’s always the moment where you look at something and think I’ve made a decision, but I’ve got to live with that. You know, luckily, they can always audition another year.

On disqualified contestant, Chris Golightly, I remember Chris’s  first audition, because Kara was absolutely and completely besotted with him.  I wasn’t quite so keen on him, then the second time we saw him, he wasn’t as strong as he was on his first audition. I really don’t have a clue why he’s been removed from the competition; I’m guessing it’s some sort of technical reason. But it’s a shame for him, he needed this opportunity.

Can Chris audition for X Factor? Well, I’ve got to find out what the reason was [why he was DQ'd]  first, if it was something like a technical reason, well then of course he could.

Who would he like to see mentor? I think we should have Lady Gaga because she’s is the most relevant pop artist in the world at the moment. I think she should be #1.  And I’ve met her. I think she’s very smart. I like her.

Some hopefuls have less than Hollywood looks, How do balance what’s good for the TV show vs what’s good for the industry? The reason we put a variety of people through is primarily on talent and interest in them as people.  If you pick everybody because they look the way you think they should look, it happened a few years ago, every blond girl in the competition looked identical, and I couldn’t tell one from another. I think it’s important that you can recognize talent, personalities, I think it’s good we have a mixed bag this year.

Is he moved by sob stories? Not really, not on me, I’ve heard so many of them over the years.  It’s about remembering people. Part of the problem when you do the show, from the auditions to the Hollywood rounds, is that most people you can’t remember, if you can remember somebody it’s a good place to start

On General Larry Platt, It’s an interesting thing, because when he came on the show the reasons why on X Factor we didn’t put an age cap on the show because I always found these older contestants really funny, interesting, whether it’s him, or whether its somebody like Susan Boyle. So I’ve got to tell you, for him, I’m absolutely thrilled that all this has happened for him, because he needs the break.  I’m glad it’s worked out well.

What advice does Simon have for the hopefuls? I think you’ve got to be original,  I remember David Cook. The reason he did so well, and he suddenly came into the front when he competed, was that he managed  to find interesting versions of well known songs and did them in his style. I remember the first time he performed Lionel Richie’s song, “Hello” and turned it into a rock song, or when he found the Chris Cornell version of  “Billie Jean”,  He was smart, and I would say the same thing to these two contestants—don’t always do the obvious, try to find something which is more unique and interesting to you. And suck up to me, that always helps.

On the stories about he and Ellen not getting along, I wouldn’t say that we didn’t get on well, I don’t know Ellen that well. It was a difficult position for her, because she started work on the Hollywood week, which is a quite difficult show to do. There was one story I read that I turned up an hour late for something, and that she wanted to film.  The truth was that I turned up 15 to 20 minutes late because I did a press conference earlier in the day and they did start filming, but that wasn’t a particular problem.  But there was no fallout, I was trying to guide her through the week, and that was about it, really

Why Ellen was a good choice, I think Ellen was a good choice, she actually is responsible for the people she has performing on her own show. I know that for a fact, because I’ve dealt with her as a record label. And she loves music and she’s been an artist.  It wasn’t meant to dis her credentials, it was specifically talking about my replacement, because my role on the show is somebody who has run a successful record label.

On missing Paula, Well, Paula is my friend. Amazing, even though we used to argue a lot, she was somebody I just got very close to over the years. We used to hang out before the show. She always made me laugh, I thought she was funny.  It was just like not having your friend on the show anymore. I do miss her.

Will Simon stay in the Drivers seat this season? It’s always frustrating on an edited show that’s why I prefer to do live TV. What I always do when I do these live shows is not go in with any preconceived idea of what it’s going to be like, or what people are going to be like, be in the moment, and do what I’ve always done in my career, which is to hopefully make the right decisions, and if that means disagreeing with people, I don’t have a problem with that, I never have done. But you’re there to be honest, truthful and hopefully give constructive advice. But most importantly, say what you think people at home are thinking.

Will he give the reigns over this year? That would be impossible. I’ll keep to my feet, I’ll hopefully be the last one to speak, it’s always easier to be the last one, rather than the first one. I think I want to go out on a high. I’ve said this over and over again, it’s my last season, I want it to be successful, I’ll do everything I can to make it happen.

What would the person who replaces you need to have? Well  You’ve got to be good looking (ha) second, you’ve got to know what you’re talking about. More and more now I’m starting to realize with these shows, now you have to put people on the shows who know what they’re talking about rather than guessing, they’ve really got to have experience, so you don’t just criticize, but offer constructive advice as well.

I know Howard’s name has been in there for awhile, but I’m fairly certain there hasn’t been an approach at any time for Howard to do the show.  Perez would be funny he’s got a good taste in music, he’s a personality, that could work.

Does his replacement need to have musical experience? I think it’s really important. It’s interesting when we first started we had a record producer, an artist and an A&R man,  you’ve covered pretty much everything you need to do.  I would say somebody who has managerial experience is always very helpful. But in simplistic terms, it’s like if you judge the  ice skating at the Olympics, if you’re going to give a score you need to genuinely know what you are talking about.  And I think over the years judges have been replaced by personalities that in the long term will create problems, because you’ve got to be able to spot a star. So, whoever replaces me, my advice has always been find somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about and has actually experienced success in the music business.

Does Howard Stern qualify? He doesn’t seem to fit any of those criteria. He’s played records. Maybe that’s a good qualification, he’s a DJ.  He obviously wants the job, good luck to him.

On people saying Simon can’t be replaced, It’s very very flattering, and I really do appreciate it, but like I said before, the show goes on, and I’m going to feel sad when it all ends . It’s much nicer to be popular than unpopular, so I do appreciate it.

Has anybody contacted him personally, and who is Simon’s dream replacement? You’re never going to pick anyone as good as you, are you? So, that’s why I don’t think anybody really asks me that question. I could give general advice. I think the important thing is what I said earlier on…you see people put in a role to play a certain role, which has become quite tiresome. You know when people always describe that person as the “mean judge” or whatever it is. You’ve just got to find somebody who can actually make a difference to the contestants, whose not afraid to speak their mind, who is prepared to be honest and occasionally blunt, but not to be gratuitously rude, I’m really getting tired of all that now.

Ok look, there’s a lot of people who want the job, and I think Ironically, it’s going to help next season, because I think there’s going to be a lot of interest in who replaces me. Who could really do it? If I really knew the answer to that question, I wouldn’t tell you. I’ve only had a couple of calls, but they were quite boring people and never stood a chance. They’ll be contacting FOX if they really want this job. Or do what Howard’s been doing which is basically talking about it on his show. I think it’s brilliant.

The good news is there’s no shortage of candidates. The hardest thing finding a replacement is that when you hear people’s names like Madonna—it will never happen. You’ve got to give a massive, massive time commitment. That’s always been the problem when you’re trying to find people to do these shows. You’ve got to find people prepared to give out that much time.

Does his replacement need to be British? This person specifically has got to have a lot of experience in the music business. It is the most important thing, and that’s what I think will happen, they’ll find somebody who’s got that kind of experience, whether as a manager, artist or like me, and A&R, it’ll be somebody like that.

  • iluvai

    I like Simon. But I wish the show was about finding a great singer/artist/superstar. I wish they didn’t feel like it had to be about gender. Just reward the talented person.

  • phdrmom

    This person specifically has got to have a lot of experience in the music business. It is the most important thing, and that’s what I think will happen, they’ll find somebody who’s got that kind of experience, whether as a manager, artist or like me, and A&R, it’ll be somebody like that.

    That sounds exactly like David Foster. I wouldn’t be surprised if AI offered it to him. Though they may consider him not relevant enough since he’s not involved with artist like Lady Gaga.

    The funniest part of that interview is Simon saying he would like them to find someone like Taylor Swift since she is so relevant. Taylor Swift wouldn’t have even made it to the judges during her audition.

  • ladymadonna

    If Simon wants to find a Taylor Swift they need to start actively considering songwriting skills as part of the audition/casting process. That would radically change Idol, but it seems to be the direction it’s trending (Daughtry – Cook/White/Castro – Allen – Bowersox/Garcia). I’m not sure Haeley Vaughn’s voice is much better than Taylor Swifts, but though she seems very sunny, I’m not sure there’s much there there.

    I think you’ve got to be original, I remember David Cook. The reason he did so well, and he suddenly came into the front when he competed, was that he managed to find interesting versions of well known songs and did them in his style. I remember the first time he performed Lionel Richie’s song, “Hello” and turned it into a rock song, or when he found the Chris Cornell version of “Billie Jean”, He was smart, and I would say the same thing to these two contestants—don’t always do the obvious, try to find something which is more unique and interesting to you.

    Really nice compliment coming from Cowell. Cook would probably be chuffed to know that Simon recognized and remembered his Idol run.

  • http://www.lindafoltz.com linda2u

    From what I’ve seen, Simon prefers the big voices to the Taylor Swifts. In some ways, Kris Allen has some similarities to Taylor – and Simon was totally against him being the Idol.

    Lady GaGA would be a FABULOUS mentor! She IS very smart! And if they had an alternative pop week – she’d be perfect! Maybe it would also be the week Adam Lambert could perform!

    BTW – did you know that COLBIE CAILLAT tried out for Idol TWICE and never made it?

  • justjude

    good stuff, Thanks to whoever got this!
    I like that he would not recommend anyone person publicly, He
    also gave his opinion on what qualifications should be a prerequisit for his successor.
    I know that David Foster comes to mind but there are others who have very good qualifications eg Tommy Motola, Jake Gold producer
    manager(Canadian Idol judge), and certainly his Auzzy counterpart.

  • http://www.photographybytracyt.com adam_lambert_rocks

    interesting choice of words used by saying he wanted to find a “Taylor Swift” considering the girl can’t sing. YES she can write a song, but she can’t sing. blech!!

  • will

    This happens on the shows I do in other countries. There’s always the moment where you look at something and think I’ve made a decision, but I’ve got to live with that. You know, luckily, they can always audition another year.

    Tell that to Angela Martin.

  • koshka

    ladymadonna:
    02/19/2010 at 1:44 am
    If Simon wants to find a Taylor Swift they need to start actively considering songwriting skills as part of the audition/casting process. That would radically change Idol, but it seems to be the direction it’s trending (Daughtry – Cook/White/Castro – Allen – Bowersox/Garcia). I’m not sure Haeley Vaughn’s voice is much better than Taylor Swifts, but though she seems very sunny, I’m not sure there’s much there there.

    The problem with this is that the average AI viewer (and some in the AI bubble) don’t know their songwriting skills unless one does some internet sleuthing. Just because you hold a guitar or sit behind a piano doesn’t mean that you are a good songwriter. Even if they were to add songwriting as an option, it wouldn’t mean much since it would demand songwriting in an AI pressure cooker. I’m not even sure that the debut albums show real capability since the time line for this is so condensed & it is not their best work.

  • jpfan

    Be “relevant” Simon is speaking in code. It means he wants someone who goes on to have the biggest album of the year. And Taylor did that off her songwriting ability not her vocals.

  • rayni

    He was smart, and I would say the same thing to these two contestants—don’t always do the obvious, try to find something which is more unique and interesting to you.

    What 2 contestants?

  • wellhesback

    Love what Simon said about Cookie! and I thought he didn’t remember him…

  • auntieaimee

    Be “relevant” Simon is speaking in code. It means he wants someone who goes on to have the biggest album of the year. And Taylor did that off her songwriting ability not her vocals.

    So, it’s not a SINGING COMPETITION anymore? ;) Simon can’t even say that they are looking for someone with star quality/the elusive X factor anymore after Susan Boyle hit so big. Hrm. Anyway, good luck to them to try and make lightning strike twice.

  • oceana

    It’s amusing to me that Taylor Swift is so maligned here. Oh well, moving on. This was a fascinating interview, thanks mj.

    But you’re there to be honest, truthful and hopefully give constructive advice. But most importantly, say what you think people at home are thinking.

    Don’t these two sentences sound contradictory? Be truthful, but say what you think people want to hear? Bah.

  • stardust462

    BTW – did you know that COLBIE CAILLAT tried out for Idol TWICE and never made it?

    IIRC, when Jordin Sparks auditioned the year she won, she first auditioned in one city (Phoenix?) and didn’t even make it to the judges. She then went to another city (Seattle?) where she did make it to the judges.

    I would love to see Lady Gaga as a mentor. It would be cool to see her also choose the outfits for the contestants that week :)

  • auntieaimee

    The problem with Simon is that by the time he thinks someone is relevant they are already overexposed and on their way out.

  • Trina

    There was this interview Simon gave, I believe in May during season 7 and he referred to Billie Jean as a moment he would never forget. I guess he meant it!

    I don’t fault him for wanting to find the next Taylor Swift, the show needs a big star who can move a ton of albums and produce crossover hits, but I don’t know how easy it will be.

    I liked what he said about why X Factor chose not to set an age limit. Its true that you can find pretty interesting people of all ages.

  • Hazehel

    Love what Simon said about Cookie! and I thought he didn’t remember him…

    I’m shocked that he even remember more than one David Cook performance.

    IIRC, when Jordin Sparks auditioned the year she won, she first auditioned in one city (Phoenix?) and didn’t even make it to the judges. She then went to another city (Seattle?) where she did make it to the judges.

    Well, Randy probably pulled some strings when she failed the first time.

  • erennick

    IIRC, when Jordin Sparks auditioned the year she won, she first auditioned in one city (Phoenix?) and didn’t even make it to the judges. She then went to another city (Seattle?) where she did make it to the judges.

    Well, Randy probably pulled some strings when she failed the first time.

    After not making it to the judges (or past the first round, I think), she won Arizona Idol which got her a pass straight to the judges.

  • ladymadonna

    I’m shocked that he even remember more than one David Cook performance.

    While I’m somewhat surprised that Simon talked at such length about Dave, I’m not taken aback that he remembers him. Regardless of what he said at the finale in order to juice the vote, Simon was a major Cook fan for most of AI7. David’s influence on Idol is pretty clear now (it’s not enough to just stand there and sing anymore), not to mention the fact that he’s the bestselling Idol since Daughtry. Dave also gave a killer performance at the finale last year, which Simon seemed to really appreciate. I love that Simon said it, but I don’t find it shocking.

  • Hazehel

    Regardless of what he said at the finale in order to juice the vote, Simon was a major Cook fan for most of AI7.

    I don’t know, he still called David Cook smug after Day Tripper. Which is a pity because David Cook took Simon too seriously and tone down his rock swagger after that. I enjoyed his earlier performances because of that swagger, without it it isn’t that much fun.

    Simon certainly remember David Cook’s Billie Jean very well though, he got a contestant on X-factor to sing another version of David Cook’s Billie Jean –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDCidWzu6gY

  • Trina

    If Simon thought Daytripper was smug then I agree with him heh..I thought that was *extremely* smug. It was a step back but then after that I think he figured out how to play the game. Simon was championing him on talk shows and in magazines saying he deserved to win from like Top 6 on. And didn’t he bring up “Hello” last year to someone? I vaguely remember him mentioning it.

  • cookcricket

    don’t always do the obvious, try to find something which is more unique and interesting to you. And suck up to me, that always helps.

    Maybe I’m reading into things, but I’ve always kind of thought this is part of why he didn’t like Kris as much, Kris didn’t hang on every word Simon said.

    Of course there is the fact that Simon told DC he should have sung, “Hello” or “Billie Jean” for the finale. I believe these two performances alone made him a fan of DC. Well those and Yo Face! LOL!

  • sylvanaire

    Trina, yes Simon told Gokey he should have changed up Endless Love, the way DC did with Hello the year before.

    As far as Daytripper being “smug”, I think the song called for some swagger, along with All Right Now, and Innocent (the other times DC got called smug or its equivalent I think, lol), so I never understood with the fuss was all about. Still, it’s nice that he remembers Dave with respect.

    Very good interview over all, thanks for posting it here, mj!

  • BootStar

    Cook is starting to, once again, attract a lot of love from the Idol machine. While I don’t doubt that Simon thought (and hopefully still thinks) highly of David, I noticed on Wednesday night’s top 24 show that David and Jordin were the most prominent “faces of AI” on that banner that sits behind the contestants. Kris may have been on there too, but I didn’t see him.

    There was also a little promo Wednesday night pimping the AI website that displayed the “top 24″ bios from S7, not S8 (albeit heavily edited with several duplicate headshot photos of Cook, Michael Johns and Archie, LOL). It also showed TOML (I think) for sale on the bottom corner.

    Now maybe this was just the result of some lazy Idol intern, but it appears that, all of a sudden, David Cook is a go-to guy for conjuring up warm fuzzy feelings about the show. Interesting.

  • ladymadonna

    He was smart, and I would say the same thing to these two contestants – don’t always do the obvious, try to find something which is more unique and interesting to you.

    What 2 contestants?

    I haven’t heard the audio interview directly but I think this might be just a transcription error. I’ve seen Simon’s comments about Cook elsewhere quoted as “He was smart. And I would say the same thing to these new contestants…”

  • Trina

    Ah sylvanaire thank you! I remember him saying it but for the life of me I couldnt figure out to who he said it.

    That said regardless of Daytripper that was before Billie Jean which IMO was the major gamechanger. I always believed that performance single handedly turned the competition that season upside down. “Hello” I saw as the performance that made people take notice, BJ IMO was the beginning of the path to his win.

  • http://MJO judes

    “I think you’ve got to be original, I remember David Cook. The reason he did so well, and he suddenly came into the front when he competed, was that he managed to find interesting versions of well known songs and did them in his style. I remember the first time he performed Lionel Richie’s song, “Hello” and turned it into a rock song, or when he found the Chris Cornell version of “Billie Jean”, He was smart, and I would say the same thing to these two contestants—don’t always do the obvious, try to find something which is more unique and interesting to you.”

    Well – what Simon says about DC here – could have been said about Kris- only Kris was not even on Simon’s radar!!!
    However as far as the producers go- I think they have turned a corner as far as Kris goes- I love that they used Kris’s song Lifetime on the montage of the Top 24!! Also the Ford commercials & having Kris go to Haiti – all of this is testament to Kris’s character & how well he now relates to those involved with idol
    [ Simon & Ryan aside!!!]

  • karenc

    I think the next step in the progression of Idol is to have the top contestants co-write their coronation song. Both David Cook and Kris would have done well with this and would have had a song that fit them better. Also, I think that the originality that David had, and Kris also, may have been because they had songwriting experience. They already had their own style.

    And I just love what Simon said about David, I wasn’t sure if he appreciated him and what he did on the show.

  • Grammie Kari

    I don’t know that there will be a replacement to the role that Simon has, but it is possible to find a good judge with maybe a different outlook on things.

    I think the TOP 2 should be allowed to choose their song from a possible list of ten.

  • oceana

    I think the next step in the progression of Idol is to have the top contestants co-write their coronation song.

    Brilliant idea (for those who can write music and lyrics). Usually the coronation songs are dreadful. There has to be a better way.