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There will be no Britney Spears or LA Reid in the third instalment of The X Factor.
Although, I can’t say Spears will be missed all that much. She was rather insipid with her criticisms. But I will certainly miss the suaveness and understanding Reid brought to the music reality show, especially with his wealth of the soul and R&B genres.
R&B singer Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio, a Mexican singer, actress, model and businesswoman (for those wondering what she does) will be joining Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato with host Mario Lopez going solo. Besides, Khloé Kardashian has her hands full with the disintegration of her marriage to Lamar Odom. No prizes for guessing the forthcoming attrac-tions in the next season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Just to get the elephant in the room out of the way, Rowland was asked about the hullabaloo over Cowell’s impending fatherhood.
She says: “I think Simon is going to be a pretty cool dad. I feel like he has guided so many people into their careers, and he has been like a father figure to several groups that he’s put together. And I think it is actually going to be a breeze for him.”
Hmm, I wonder if his notorious Judge Dread approach will now be diluted to a cuddly teddy bear niceness?
As for the camaraderie among the judges, Rowland reveals: “To be honest, we were really having fun. I remember the first day on the set – all the cameras were, of course, on us, and I remember Demi walked up to me and goes: ‘Hello, how are you?’ And it’s not about the judges, this is about the talent. And I think that is why I love the show so much, because we’re all focused on talent and finding great talent as well.
“Paulina is adorable, witty and so beautiful. Demi, you fall in love with her immediately. She is passionate. She has such a beautiful heart and I love the way she leaves the contestants with something hopeful when they leave the audition, whether it’s with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. Simon is very smart and I trust him. I think the rest of the world trusts him as well.”
Can we expect to see Cowell being out-numbered this season?
She jokes: “I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. It is the year of the woman. Women rule, men are just… well, they live here. Like Simon, looking like a sad puppy dog, with three women on the panel, is just sad. Actually, it’s hilarious.”
On her approach as a judge, Rowland says: “I am constructive when it comes to criticism. I remember coming up in the music industry and I ran into people who had some harsh things to say, but I grew more from people who actually were constructive and gave details about how I could grow. I paid attention to those people and wanted to apply that to the way I’m a judge, because it’s about seeing people grow and be better and become something wonderful. And being honest with them, if you possibly don’t see something – it’s a tactful way of telling them and not just killing someone’s dream.”
On the whole “creating a star” concept, she shares: “I think that is why Simon wanted to have mentors this year, well, every year. That is why The X Factor, of course, has mentors to be there to be constructive, to be honest, to give knowledge, and to help them grow.
“Coming into the music industry, even when I was a kid, one thing I learnt is, timing is everything. Being prepared is everything. It’s not necessarily all in the show.
“We are usually our worst critic and it is so important, even as I watch a great friend of mine, Serena Williams, play tennis. She just won, but she was out there fighting for her shot, of course, again to win. You just have to want to win, and you have to be hungry enough and you have to have an animal instinct in this industry.”
As for her experience as an artist who went from immense success in Destiny’s Child to a solo career, Rowland offers: “I make music that I love. I have a fan base and I think that music also continues to change, to be completely honest.
“You are allowed as an artist to be creative, and sometimes it catches and sometimes it doesn’t. When it catches, you run with it. I continue to record as well. You have situations, even with Robin Thicke where no one was really paying attention to him, as talented as this man is; he plays so many instruments, writes music for everybody. He gets a hit and the next thing you know he’s on everybody’s lips and I think that is the way music is right now.”
So what is she looking for?
“Above anything, people love to see passion. And I think that when it comes to performing, people just want to be entertained. If you’re not up there having fun, then how can anybody else who’s watching have fun?
“I think the contestants have to know how incredible and unique they are and what kind of artist they are before they even get here, and hopefully, even if they don’t know before they get here, they learn while they’re here,” she shares.
“I’ve actually turned someone down because they had a wonderful look and they sounded awful. I don’t want them to just come into this competition thinking they can get on by their looks; it’s more than that. It’s your talent, it’s your passion, it’s your hunger, it’s your dedication and I felt like they weren’t there when it came to those components.
“I am very honest and I don’t cut corners.”
Drawing from her ups and downs in the music industry, Rowland is hopeful her experiences will assist her as a judge and mentor and, in so doing, aid in the search to find the next big sensation that embodies every facet of The X Factor.
• The X Factor airs on Saturday October 5 at 5pm on M-Net (DStv Channel 101).
TALKING POINTS . . .
• Simon Cowell made history by offering a $5 million (R48m) prize to the winner of The X Factor. He put his money where his mouth was, but it paid off and silenced his detractors.
• As with the numerous changes to the judging panel on American Idol after Cowell’s exit, The X Factor underwent something similar. By the way, Jennifer Lopez will be returning to AI, joining Keith Urban and Harry Connick jr.
Back to The X Factor. Cheryl Cole, who was seriously peeved and rather vociferous about her feelings regarding Cowell, was bumped from the judge’s seat after two sets of auditions and replaced by Nicole Scherzinger in season one. In season two Scherzinger and Paula Abdul were tossed out with Britney Spears and Demi Lovato was brought in.
• On the hosting side, the show was really unlucky. First it was presenter Steve Jones, who had all the charm of a tree stump. He was supposed to co-host with Scherzinger, but that changed, obviously. Then it was Mario Lopez and Khloé Kardashian.
While Lopez was in his element with the perfect balance of wit and élan, Kardashian was embarrassing. In fact, her hair upstaged her the entire season.
• In season one, Scherzinger received death threats for voting to eliminate contestant Rachel Crow and was booed off the stage.
• The X Factor beat American Idol and The Voice in last year’s Teen Choice Awards for Choice TV: Reality Competition Show.