EXCLUSIVE: Simon Cowell Talks About Justin Bieber’s ‘X Factor,’ Favoring Adele, And Casting Charlie Sheen

Let it be known that, contrary to popular belief,Simon Cowellis one of the nicest people to interview… ever. Simon may be notoriously known for being blunt and giving harsh, controversial criticisms to contestants on American Idol, but it’s all an act – it has to be.

Making his mark in the US in 2002 to many as the “mean” British judge on American Idol, Simon has since proven to be THE guy to go to for aspiring stars who want to hear the truth about their ability and/or get the opportunity to let their star shine. He’s the Anna Wintour of emerging pop talent- he makes or breaks careers. Aside from American Idol, Simon has been a talent judge on British singing competition shows such as Pop Idol, X Factor, and Britain’s Got Talent.

With X Factor making its way from the UK to the good ol’ US of A this year, it looks like Simon is far from being done making stars! After all, this is the man who launched the careers of Leona Lewis, Susan Boyle, Il Divo – just to name a few. BUZZNET had a little phone chat with Simon the other day, where we talked to the X Factor creator and judge about his new show.

BUZZNET: Simon, how will your new show X Factor be different from American Idol?

SIMON COWELL: I think it’s going to be more fun. There’s going to be a lot more variety amongst the contestants because the age range varies so much on this, where you could be 12 years old or you could be 60 years old. And then we have vocal groups to enter this competition as well, which from experience makes a big difference to the show. Right at the top when you audition, the contestants audition in arenas in front of three or four thousand people so it’s a very different feel to the audition experience. And at the end the judges get to mentor the contestants – we have three contestants each in the final. So we have more invested, I guess, in this show. But it’s very [difficult to] put into words until you see it. It’s just a much more crazy version of American Idol.

BN: What does the term “X factor” mean to you?

SC: It was something we’ve always used for years in the music business, which is – it’s very difficult to write down in words what makes somebody special. But when they walk in the room it could be presence, it could be their voice, it could be the effect they have on other people. I guess Justin Bieber’s a good example of someone who has the ‘X factor.’ But you recognize it when you meet him or you see him perform, and like I said, he has that incredible effect on his fans – and that means he has it. And I’ve seen other people his age look almost identical to him who haven’t got it. It comes from within I think.

BN: You’ve broken and produced many artists throughout your career. Who are you most proud of?

SC: I would say Leona Lewis. When I first met her, she auditioned on the X Factor. She was very shy and didn’t believe in herself and then turned into this fantastic artist by the end. So I guess Leona, because she’s the reason why we do these shows.

BN: What’s the one song that you wish you could hear every contestant sing?

SC: There isn’t a single song to be honest with you. Once you’ve heard one song about five times, you kind of become allergic to them. I got that way with the Jason Mraz song, where after a while I couldn’t bear to hear that song again. Or “Fallin” by Alicia Keys. I mean, you just get to the point where you think, “If anyone ever sings that song again, I’m going to shoot myself.”

BN: Who are your top 3 favorite pop artists that are out there today?

SC: That’s a good question. I like Adele, I like a girl by the name of Jessie J who is about to break in America I think – a British girl – and I’m a big fan of Rihanna with how much she’s achieved in such a short space of time.

BN: Awesome – all female! If you could have a season of only celebrities on X Factor, who would you cast?

SC: Oh God… Paula [Abdul] because I find her fascinating, Charlie Sheen, Betty White – and me. I’d watch it.

BN: What advice would you give someone who thinks they’ve got the X factor and they think that they can make it in the [music] biz?

SC: Ok, let’s assume I’m talking to someone aged between 12 and 16, because this is a new category we’re bringing into the show this year. I would say: Never listen to your parents. And work it out for yourself, who you want to be, and don’t be afraid to be different because this is a time now where being original or being different is paying off. And don’t be afraid of criticism, like the girl [Rebecca Black] who did that “Friday” song, one of the most famous people in the world right now. Most people can’t stand her record but everyone’s talking about her.

X Factor makes its way to New Jersey next!

Think you’ve got the “X factor”?!

Throughout the month of April, anyone 12 years or older – both solo artists and vocal groups – have the opportunity to use state-of-the-art MyStudio audition booths to audio- and video-record their acapella audition and state why they think they have what it takes to be a global superstar.

Sign up to audition for X Factor (it’s an open audition!) by visitingXFactorXtra.com – or forward to a friend!

-Reporting by Patty Gopez