Simon Cowell Reflects on Harry Styles & Camila Cabello’s ‘X Factor’ Auditions
Simon Cowell chatted with “Extra’s” Terri Seymour ahead of the “America’s Got Talent” live shows! Simon discussed what’s ahead on “AGT” and recalled the many stars he’s discovered throughout his career, from Camila Cabello to Harry Styles.
Dishing on the live shows, Simon said, “The great thing about this year is that, you know, normally we had those kind of like quarterfinals, which weren’t quarterfinals. So half the people would go through, and then you had the semifinals, then you had the final. So this year, we’ve added another 20 contestants into the live shows, and on the live shows each night on the Tuesday, only two people go through to the final… I think it’s going to be way more, I don’t know, suspenseful, dramatic.”
This season, the fans get to choose the wild card.
Simon explained, “I think anything you can add in, which makes, you know, the audience feel more of a part of selecting the contestants is good because we don’t have the middle rounds… So basically we have to make the decision, and then we got to a point genuinely… that we couldn’t make our minds up, and then we just invented this thing about, ‘Well why don’t we let the public decide?’ If I’m being honest with you, I like the idea that throughout the live shows, just the audience pick the finalists.”
Terri commented, “So the dynamic between you judges and Terry Crews is electric,” asking, “Why does it work so well?”
Cowell told her, “I think partly because we know each other really well now.”
He also shared his advice for contestants going into live shows, saying “When I first was making these shows, there was no YouTube, so these shows really, really, really were, you know, mega, and, you know, it’s Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood. They needed that platform, and I think the same thing fantastically still applies today… If you make that moment count, that three minutes on a TV show like this, because then the clips go viral, the audition goes viral afterwards. In my opinion, you’ve got to do something which no one’s done before.”
Like his Golden Buzzer selection, Sarah. Simon said, “She was like the first time I met Carrie Underwood, interestingly. You know, certain people… they come onstage and they had what I call a glow about them. There’s something that you can almost feel it before they start their audition, and soon as she walked out, there was this feeling of you know… even though she was nervous, she was confident and she just had that star quality thing about her… That’s why, you know, I gave her my Golden Buzzer.”
Terri asked, “So you said to her you wanted to give her a moment that she would remember forever. Like one moment you won’t forget, you said, was when you came to America for the first time to work here 20-plus years ago.”
Cowell replied, “It’s a true story that when we started filming in America because I don’t think anyone thought ‘Idol’ was going to be successful… I’m on a show that was successful in America, you know, you have to pinch yourself.”
He said for Sarah to travel as a teen “halfway across the world from Poland to America and experiencing what she felt from the audience getting the Golden Buzzer, it was like, yeah, it kind of, it kind of took me back to how I felt.”
The star continued, “I mean Camila Cabello is a great example. When I was doing ‘X Factor’ here, that she wasn’t really supposed to audition and, you know, I happened to go backstage and I saw her crying, asked her why she was crying, and she said, you know, it was too late for her to audition because she was a reserve, whatever that meant.”
He added, “I said to her, ‘Well, I’m one of the producers, you just got an audition,’ and you know, when those moments work, and seeing Camilla today or Harry Styles, Leona Lewis, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, there’s been so many times luckily where I’ve been there at that moment where their career is going to go in a completely different direction. If we didn’t have those things happen, then there’d be no point making the shows.”
Reminiscing about Harry, who is now a global sensation, he said, “I remember his audition like it was yesterday. He was very charming, he was very confident, he was very funny, and I liked him. I just thought there’s something… special about him… You never forget those moments and, like I said, genuinely if we weren’t making people’s careers successful, I would never be making these shows today.”
Simon added, “That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of is that the shows we’ve made have gone on to do what we intended them to do, which is more than be a TV show.”
Watch “AGT” Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.