Eyeing X Factor, Is Simon Cowell Deliberately Sabotaging American Idol?


The hot new dance in Idolmania forums is the Season Nine Hate-Rag -- we shuffle, pout, call the talent pool a worthless bunch of nervous tickers, boo, turn it all about, and blame Ellen DeGeneres too. That seems valid in the broad strokes, but my latent conspiratorial sense wonders if Simon Cowell hasn't concocted this ennui himself. After season nine's coronation ceremony, the 50-year-old judge will leave Idol for next fall's American debut of X Factor, which he produces and has a financial stake in. Wouldn't a muddled ninth season of Idol give X Factor a better chance to shine? Have we already forgotten that the original UK version of X Factor effectively wiped out Pop Idol after Cowell jumped ship? Ahead of tonight's episode, we postulate three ways The Underwhelmed One may be cutting down Kelly Clarkson's alma mater after the jump.

1. Devaluing DioGuardi

Simon's never struck a magnificent brotherhood with his co-panelists, but he seems to harvest a particular antagonism with handsy colleague Kara DioGuardi. Simon dismissed her criticisms of Andrew Garcia's "Gimme Shelter" rendition and Paige Miles's "Walk Away" with memorable acidity. He regularly deflects Kara's coos with a turned cheek. But most of all, he just doesn't do much to bolster Kara's consistency as a judge, and his unceremonious monotone always renders Kara's monologues contrived in comparison. He's not known for playing Mr. Nice Guy, but Simon hardly seems interested in playing on the same field as the songwriting panelist.

Of course, such a slight implies a scheme to invigorate interest in a different X Factor judge, like Paula Abdul. Perhaps Simon thinks the best way of currying favor on Abdul's behalf (if she is to be hired, which I still suspect will happen despite her wacky salary demands) is to underrate DioGuardi. Speaking as a viewer, the plan may be working.

2. Skimping on the Starpower and Spectacle

Don't let the prevailing season-nine gestalt sway you: Crystal Bowersox is one of the most talented performers in the history of Idol. Additionally, Siobhan Magnus ranks among the show's most original talents, and Didi Benami boasts subversive smarts. They all intrigue. Otherwise, season nine is marked by a startling dearth of stage presence, Idol's signature power. As I browse through X Factor's explosive performances in the UK, I realize Simon hasn't lost his touch for finding bona fide stars like Leona Lewis or Joe McElderry. I can only imagine the American revamp will mirror that franchise's blast of ready-made pop icons. Whether or not the music is better seems irrelevant -- X Factor's garish spectacle and doe-eyed cherubs are more compulsively watchable than Idol's unending acoustic medley. In fact, if X Factor's first US season is anything like the last UK one, Idol's ninth season could be deemed forgettable.

3. A Firm Disinterest

Even as Bowersox racks up the best Idol performances week after week, Simon's praises for the busking talent seem muted at best. He's not falling over himself to bow at her feet like he did with Leona Lewis, X Factor's prime find. This could be coincidence, or it could be that Simon's escalated fervor will return on X Factor and remain present throughout the season. While we wait for Idol to pick up steam, it seems only right to wait with greater anticipation for the potentially more seismic X Factor -- along with Simon's own revived showmanship.


  • krktoday says:

    I know Crystal is going to win but I am watching this year just until the hunky Casey get's voted off. I think Simon is trying to be more boring this year also.

  • river says:

    One reason Simon may not be falling all over himself for Crystal is that she's not really as good as the hype leads everyone to think. Crystal is a good singer, and you can be sure she will sound like that week after week. BUT, beyond this it's where it all falls apart because she sings within a limited box or range so narrow that it's hardly a challenge for her form week to week.
    She never tries anything new vocally and his almost no stage presense. That's why she hides behind a guitar week after week. In fact there is NOTHING that Crystal does that is remotely intriguing voicewise or on stage. Sure, the first 2 or 3 times she seems great. But then you realize it's all repeating in a way that seems really dull. Simon is likly siding with Crystal because the media sheep have chosen her before the top 12 was even picked. He wants to make money so he never goes against those sheep. But it's also possible as you said that he's sabatoging idol at the same time. It's also weird how he's so negative towards Siobhan who is actually great.
    She's everything he used to want to see in an idol. Someone who takes huge risks and pulls them off 5 out of 6 times is far better than someone who like Crystal who plays it so safe that she's garanteed to do it right every time. But even Crystal has already had a bad week, so no one is perfect anyway. So in a way he's also trying to keep Siobhan down to seemingly help Crystal. Because Crystal can't win without Simon making Siobhan look bad. And for those who doubt this, it would be easy for Simon to make Crystal look bad. All he'd have to do is point out how she takes no chances, hides behind a guitar, wears shabby looking old fashioned clothes, isn't relevent and so on. I think Simon should be helping BOTH Siobhan and Crystal, but instead it's all messed up. But that's idol for you.

  • lin kirk says:

    Simon is just being Simon.. Crystal is the winner.Ryan and Simon are playing their usual game and yes Simon and Kara act like best of buddies and Ellen is great and funny and yes she is nice.. something like a breath of fresh air. Randy is great and always the same..

  • Jammer says:

    I finally found someone that is looking at what is going on. I can't stand Ryan Either and in my opinion he is hurting the show more for me then the contestants. Sad part is he is hurting the contestants by tring to "Be The Star" of the show. It is American Idol, not the Ryan Seacrest show! HE sucks!!!

  • Karin says:

    I turned Idol off when Ryan started to go after Simon. I can't watch that kind of stuff it makes me cringe.

  • Jean says:

    Ellen is a bit of comic relief, but her comments are worthless: I think you are great...You are really cute...That was just great...I like him, he's great...great...great. Has anyone else noticed it.

  • SPARKS says:

    NINE YEARS and you people STILL buy into the Ryan and Simon stuff.
    Grow up and grab a freakin brain cell would you? It's all for show.
    NIIIIINE YEARS. How very sad that people are still "SHOCKED! SHOCKED I TELL YOU!" at Ryan's "behavior".

  • SPARKS says:

    And also....
    NINE YEARS....
    And we wonder why people think Americans are stupid and gulliable.
    Nine years....