Demi Lovato and Simon Cowell talk more about 'The X Factor's new season
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/12/2012
After crowning its first-season champion last season, powerhouse singer Melanie Amaro, The X Factor will return for a second season on Wednesday night.
While Fox's debut of The X Factor's second season is going to air directly against The Voice's third-season premiere -- which has been running over the course of three nights this week, starting Monday night -- creator and judge Simon Cowell is confident his show will be a success and come out ontop, especially considering his new panel of judges includes pop icon Britney Spears and singer Demi Lovato.
During a Thursday conference call with reporters, Simon and Demi discussed what viewers can anticipate with the return of Simon's hit reality singing competition and talked about all the hype surrounding the show -- including whether more of the mentoring process will be shown on TV this time around, what changes have been made to the show and whether judging contestants reached Demi's expectations or surprised her in the end.
Below is the concluding portion of Simon and Demi's call with reporters. Click here to read the first half.
I know people get very emotionally invested in these shows when they're going on, but it's kind of a different story once people actually get out into the real world. What do you think an artist -- be it a winner, be it somebody who's a runner-up, whatever, because we've had people in the past that have been successful that didn't win. What do you think the artist really has to do to step out of that TV box and really become a legitimate artist in the eyes of the music-buying public?
Simon Cowell: I think you've got to work hard. You've got to have that killer instinct. You've got to be marketable. You've got to prove to record producers and songwriters that you deserve to have the best material, and you've got to use the show as a launch pad and acknowledge the show and the part that it played.
But Demi can answer this question probably better than I am. She's number one in the charts at the moment. What did you have to go through, Demi?
Demi Lovato: I think you have to go through so much to be able to make it to where you are. You have to make a lot of sacrifices. You have to be willing to not get a lot of sleep and to have to choose -- like I said, make some sacrifices and work very, very, very hard.
I'm thankful for where I am today, but I think a part of this competition is we also have to be a part of mentoring. We have to make the artist in the competition realize that it's not just about getting on stage and who has the best voice and who has the best performance. It's about making a pop star, and ultimately, signing someone who has what it takes performance-wise and also drive-wise.
I'm curious whether there were any determinations as to when the audition shows from each city would be aired.
Simon Cowell: You're going to see [Providence] on TV next Wednesday. I think for the first show it's pretty much decided that it's going to be three cities in the first show because it's a two-hour show. It's going to be Austin, San Francisco, and Providence. Then the following day, I think you're going to see a bit more Providence as well. Providence was a really successful city for us. We love it there.
Was [Providence] particularly enjoyable and a particularly strong stream of talent?
Simon Cowell: I loved it there. I absolutely loved the city, loved the people. It felt like the whole city had turned up to watch the auditions and it was a buzz.
Demi Lovato: Providence was amazing. I really enjoyed seeing how many people showed up to support their fellow, their neighbors. It was really awesome to see [that].
Did you have some surprises this first go round of hosting? Did you feel like there were some surprises? What were some of the bigger surprises coming through this?
Demi Lovato: There [were] surprises getting to see some people, that they step out onstage and you may not expect the voice that comes out of them. That was always really awesome. People just really surprising you with their performance too.
You never know what you can expect when you step out in front of that audience and you sit in the judges' panel. You have no idea what's going to happen that day. You have no idea how people are going to react. It's full of surprises. It's very unpredictable.
You've talked about the first show in particular being different from anything you've made before. Can you talk a little more specifically about what kind of changes you've made in terms of the show this year? Obviously the judges are a huge part of that, but in terms of the show and how it's put together and what kind of things we might see.
Simon Cowell: Yes. It's difficult to describe on the telephone until you've actually seen it. Even when I watch the show myself, even though I've filmed it, there was a ton of stuff which I wasn't aware of happening backstage.
But I suppose the headlines are that we've allowed the audience to see even more of the audition process than what they've seen before. There is a lot of stuff backstage. You're definitely seeing way more of how the contestants interact with each other, how they prepare for the auditions, and in the case of the first audition, there is a lot of stuff that happens behind the scenes -- which you don't normally see.
I found it fascinating to watch because this is the first time, even though I've done this a long time, I genuinely believe I know what it's like to be a contestant on this show. I found it fascinating. There is a lot more reality than we've ever shown before. Maybe before, we showed people 60% of the process, now it feels like it's 100%. It definitely feels different from many of the shows we've seen this year.
The show clearly involves a mentoring process. Are we going to see more of that mentoring aspect, because there didn't really seem to be a lot of that that we saw on screen last year?
Simon Cowell: Definitely. A lot of what we did was off-camera. But I think you're right. I think the mentoring process, how we actually work with the artists, how they interact with each other, where they're staying, is an important part of this show.
Like I said, it's easier to watch it than it is for me to explain it, but you will see a marked difference to anything we've never done before. I think all that process has to be shown.
With all of these reality singing competitions out there now, how do you think The X Factor stays above the rest of the pack and what makes it different from the other shows?
Simon Cowell: I think partly, how I just answered the last question, is that you've got to make a different show to everybody out there, otherwise they all blur into one at the moment.
For me, like I said, I've done this for so many years, I wanted to watch something different -- something I've never seen before. We brought in a different skillset in terms of the reality, a different team. We joined that with the existing team we've got.
At times -- and there is no voiceover on this show. There are no hosts. The contestants tell the story themselves. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be on one of these shows, this show is a real glimpse of how stressful it is for the contestants, like I said before, how they interact.
But I do feel very proud of the first show that we've made. I think it's a big leap compared to what I've seen before and it has to be different from all these other shows, because otherwise, they're all going to blur into one and it's boring.
We've been seeing some commercials with Britney judging some of the contestants and you've already alluded to how mean she can be. Are you surprised at this side of Britney? Do you think she's actually meaner than you?
Simon Cowell: Yes, like if you buy a dog, you expect it to lick you and then it turns out to bite you? It was rather like that. It was a real surprise. She's really, really difficult to please. But in a way, I think it made it more interesting because she just wouldn't say yes for people to like her.
When you do these auditions in front of 5,000 people, they boo you. But she was kind of fearless. Because I know the first show, Demi said, "No," and she got booed. I could see the look on her face like, "I don't think I want to do this show anymore." It's kind of difficult, but she's going to surprise a lot of people, I think, when you see her.
For Demi, you've had a lot of acting jobs before and that's sort of in your wheelhouse, but is this job as a judge everything you expected it would be or are you just surprised by everything that goes into judging contestants?
Demi Lovato: It's everything that I thought it would be and more, because I always thought it would be so much fun and difficult, but at the same time, you're in a position that you're mentoring people. You're trying to give them the best advice possible so that they can be groomed into this pop star that you know they can be.
It's a lot more challenging than I thought it would be, but I am very excited of putting everything that I have into it. It's going to be a really great show. I'm excited to see it. But it's funner to work on.
Simon, this one is for you. Last season, you originally cut Melanie Amaro in an earlier round of the competition, but she went on to win the whole thing. Can we expect any moments like that when a judge has to reinstate a contestant once they've been cut or second-guessing a decision they had made?
Simon Cowell: I think the answer to that question is probably yes. I don't know how we're going to do it, but I think probably every judge is going to make a decision afterwards that they've made the wrong decision or they've left somebody out.
It's particularly difficult when you make the decision before you've seen the audition go out. Then you see the audition go out and you've cut that person. It's a problem. I don't know what we're going to do about it, but I think there have been a few mistakes this year, yes.
Will we be seeing any performances either as soloists or in duets with the contestants with Britney and Demi?