I’m not a big fan of so-called reality TV, and the king of the musical reality shows is the blunt Englishman Simon Cowell. However, the question can reasonably be asked, as to whether or not Simon Cowell is good for music.
Simon Cowell is a busy man, with a lot of fingers in a lot of pies, and the shows he’s made popular include American Idol and America’s Got Talent, which are both spin-offs of their British equivalents, X Factor (which was preceded by Pop Idol) and Britain’s Got Talent.
Cowell’s Shows Have Produced Genuine Talent
There’s no real arguing that Simon Cowell-inspired shows have produced genuine talent, which has included Kelly Clarkson,Adam Lambert and Carrie Underwood from American Idol, Leona Lewis and JLS from X Factor, and Will Young from PopIdol. Britain’s Got Talent also made superstars out of middle-aged wannabes Susan Boyle and Paul Potts.
Critics argue that the actual process of producing the talent is the real problem. A lot of the singers in these shows are very inexperienced at performing publicly, and the sight of a brooding Simon Cowell is probably as daunting, to many of the singers, as performing in front of a sizeable crowd. Cowell can be kind, but often, justifiably, he will launch a withering attack on contestants who are deluded, thinking that they are better than they are. One singer auditioning for X Factor, for instance, claimed to be a better singer than Tom Jones. He wasn’t even close. The negative part of Cowell’s shows is when a sometimes humble or vulnerable person is ripped to shreds by the judges, which is often Simon himself. Some would argue that people know what they’re letting themselves in for before they audition, but does that legitimatize humiliating people in public?
I think Simon Cowell does care about music, and if the talent is there he can be quite gushing in his praise, and he does get emotional when a singer has moved him, namely Leona Lewis. Cowell can be constructive, but one does feel that he is too often living up to his bad guy image, and playing to the gallery like some pantomime villain.
A Generation of Wannabes
There are singing stars who despise Cowell’s shows, but others are happy to appear on them. Criticism of these shows include them being too brutal to (re American Idol and X Factor) producing talent that is manufactured. The former accusation is fair comment, but it’d be hard to make a convincing case to really say that the vibrancy of Kelly Clarkson or the soaring voice of Leona Lewis could be manufactured.
Simon Cowell can be admired in the way that he has managed to produce a format for talent shows which has become popular around the world, and it’s true that a generation of youngsters want to be famous singers, because of American Idol and X Factor. But do they love singing, or do they just want to become famous?
Cowell, now 50, was actually unknown when a contestant on a British TV quiz show 20 years ago, and you wonder if that gave him ideas to make his own mark on the world of television. Simon Cowell, whether people love him or hate him, makes it difficult for anyone to ignore him. With all the talent that he has helped unearth, overall, Simon Cowell probably has been good for music – though I still have some reservations!
Cowell’s cheesy screen debut | The Sun