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'American Idol' judge Simon Cowell dishes about new season

by jmaloni

Top 24 vie for America's vote on Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox

Sat, Feb 20th 2010 09:00 am

Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni

If you watch "American Idol," and you're like me, then by about the second episode you've had enough of the sob stories. Yes, we feel bad for those down-on-their-luck contestants. And sure, it's nice to learn about the participants and find someone or a few singers to root for throughout the season. But come on, this is the show that brought us Sanjaya, Bikini Girl and Gen. Larry "Pants on the Floor" Platt. We're not watching "AI" because of its cultural enrichment - we're watching it to be entertained.

And truth be told, the sob stories aren't just wearing thin on viewers. After almost a decade of tear-jerking tales, these trips down memory lane no longer impact the judges' decisions.

"Not really; not on me. I've heard so many of them over the years," head judge Simon Cowell tells BTS. "It's about remembering people. And part of the problem when you do this show - from the auditions to the Hollywood round - is that most people you can't remember. If you can remember somebody, it's a good place to start."

Fortunately, we've made it past another round of "woe is me," and into the actual singing portion of the reality television competition. "American Idol" judges have selected the Top 24 performers, and those artists will begin their quest for the season nine crown on Tuesday (Top 12 girls) and Wednesday (Top 12 guys) at 8 p.m. on Fox.

While David Cook and Kris Allen won seasons seven and eight, respectively, Cowell says it's the girls' title to lose this year.

"We've had a few years now of guys winning the show, and I would say there is definitely a better chance of a girl winning the show this year, certainly than last year," he says.

While it's up to viewers to decide who ultimately wins "AI," Cowell has his own preference.

"When you talk about the landscape ... you want somebody who represents what is going on at the moment," he says. "I'd love to find a Taylor Swift; somebody who's relevant rather than just a contest winner."

This season's Top 24 features an assortment of talented singers - many of whom don't have a stereotypical "Hollywood look." 

"I mean, the reason we put a variety of people through was I think primarily on talent and just interest in them as people," Cowell says. "I think if you just pick everybody because they look the way you think they should look - it happened a few years ago. I remember every blonde girl in the competition looked identical. I couldn't tell one from the other. And I think it's important that you can recognize talent, personalities. So, I think it's good that we've got a mixed bag this year."

The key to victory, Cowell says, is to be unique.

"I think you've got to be original," he says. "I remember David Cook. The reason he did so well, and he suddenly came into the front when he competed, is that he managed to find interesting versions of well-known songs, and did them in his style."

"Don't always do the obvious," he adds. "Try and find something, which is more unique and interesting to you. And suck up to me, that always helps!"

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