Simon Cowell speaks out about the current season of 'American Idol'

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EW.com had occasion today to speak with American Idol judge Simon Cowell, and we took the opportunity to ask him about the show’s current, unpredictable season. As always, Simon had strong opinions and was not afraid to share his thoughts on David Cook, "God Bless the U.S.A.," and those "annoying" waving hands.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you feel the show is going this season?
SIMON COWELL:
It’s interesting. I think the audience are much more savvy than I’ve seen them in previous years, and much less forgiving, which I’m happy about. I’ve got a feeling this year something strange could happen, particularly after what happened with David Cook last night. Because, I’ve got to tell you, watching it back, this performance he did on "Billie Jean," in my opinion, was in a different league to anything we’ve heard on the season so far. It was so much better, [chuckles] he kind of made some of the other performances seem ridiculous. But I’m glad! He was smart — I know where he got the arrangement of the song from, but that doesn’t really matter. He was brilliant! And I was concerned three or four weeks ago that this was just going to be a coronation for David Archuleta and it’s just a question of who comes [in] second. I’m not so sure anymore. And, you know, with Jason Castro last night — there’s a guy who thinks he’s just sailing along, and I thought it was a bad performance. You give somebody like him a kick up the ass, let’s see what he can deliver now. But I thought it was, um, an interesting night last night.

addCredit(“Steve Granitz/WireImage.com”)

To be sure. Some very odd song choices.
And very clever song choices. That "God Bless the U.S.A." [sung by Kristy Lee Cook]  — smart girl. Gotta tell you [laughing]
when your back’s against the wall, she knew what she was doing. I
thought that was very smart. I’ll be amazed if she gets booted out on
the back of that [song].

What is it like to be surrounded by people just standing there, waving their arms and clapping not in time with the music?
It’s a little bit annoying at times, because you kind of think that it’s like they’re all hypnotized! [Laughs]
That’s probably the best way of describing it. It’s like they all wake
up after it’s finished and think What have I just been doing? I used
to like when people were sitting down to the left and right of me,
because I like to see what the audience are doing [during a
performance]. I think it’s as important to watch the audience reaction
without them being aware of being watched as it is listening to the
song yourself: You see them get excited; you see them bored. With this
lot in front of me [now], I haven’t got a clue what’s going on. So we
may have to sit them down in the future. I think it’s good idea for the
final; I’m not sure it’s a good idea for the [regular shows].
Particularly, when you’ve got someone at the piano doing a Sting song,
there’s nothing much to wave about, is there?

No. And I have to say, as a viewer, it’s quite obnoxious when the arms are often taking up, like, three quarters of the screen.
Yeah, I know what you’re saying. It’s a bit childish as well, isn’t it? Yeah, I think we may have to do something about that.

I have to tell you, that would be much appreciated at EW. Our
readers aren’t fans of it either. If you could somehow stop the waving…

[Laughs] Well, we’ll start a campaign together on that! I’ll do my best. As you know, they don’t listen to me, that audience!

To be sure. Some very odd song choices.
And very clever song choices. That "God Bless the U.S.A." [sung by Kristy Lee Cook]  — smart girl. Gotta tell you [laughing]when your back’s against the wall, she knew what she was doing. Ithought that was very smart. I’ll be amazed if she gets booted out onthe back of that [song].

What is it like to be surrounded by people just standing there, waving their arms and clapping not in time with the music?
It’s a little bit annoying at times, because you kind of think that it’s like they’re all hypnotized! [Laughs]That’s probably the best way of describing it. It’s like they all wakeup after it’s finished and think What have I just been doing? I usedto like when people were sitting down to the left and right of me,because I like to see what the audience are doing [during aperformance]. I think it’s as important to watch the audience reactionwithout them being aware of being watched as it is listening to thesong yourself: You see them get excited; you see them bored. With thislot in front of me [now], I haven’t got a clue what’s going on. So wemay have to sit them down in the future. I think it’s good idea for thefinal; I’m not sure it’s a good idea for the [regular shows].Particularly, when you’ve got someone at the piano doing a Sting song,there’s nothing much to wave about, is there?

No. And I have to say, as a viewer, it’s quite obnoxious when the arms are often taking up, like, three quarters of the screen.
Yeah, I know what you’re saying. It’s a bit childish as well, isn’t it? Yeah, I think we may have to do something about that.

I have to tell you, that would be much appreciated at EW. Ourreaders aren’t fans of it either. If you could somehow stop the waving…
[Laughs] Well, we’ll start a campaign together on that! I’ll do my best. As you know, they don’t listen to me, that audience!


Comments (283 total) Add your comment
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  • Rosemary

    THANK YOU for mentioning the stupid arm waving. I’ve been suffering silently night after night. Simon, please use your considerable pull to put a stop to it.

  • wontonjon

    I love this guy. Seriously, I think he’s one of the most admirable music/television moguls out there

  • mike

    I know I missed most the performance b/c I was too laughing my ass off when they show the arm waving. Next thing you know they’ll be holding up lighters.

  • Janice

    And after the lighters they’ll be crowd surfing to David Cook and Michael Johns. David Archuleta is so overrated. I agree with Simon…he needs to grow up about 5 years and then try again…TMTH.

  • Janice

    Oh! and David Cook rocks!! ;-)

  • Angel

    So True. The arm waving is a bit…outragous,in front of the camera………..,simons right, david cook was the best…i always think this. lol! =] thas cuz im a huge fan!

  • Angel

    So True. The arm waving is a bit…outragous,in front of the camera………..,simons right, david cook was the best…i always think this. lol! =] thas cuz im a huge fan!

  • Laura

    Simon’s right. Cook gave a performance. Just about everyone else looked like they were singing at a karaoke contest – a good one, but still a karaoke contest. Cook is in a different league because his voice is incredible and he delivers a song with emotional intensity – no matter where the arrangement comes from. He knows how to perform.
    And yeah, please get rid of the arm waving. Am I watching Idol or getting clearance for takeoff?

  • Sally in Chicago

    Simon is so intuitive. Love him.

  • inad

    I love Simon!! He’s smart, cute and doesn’t care what people think of him.

  • Lisa

    Wow Cook was ok but the best this season, not a chance! LMAO!
    Simon is just so freaked that Archuleta has it in the bag if he just stands & smiles until the May final so he has decided to pick Cook as the main competition!
    Cook is so NOT original since he just copied Chris Cornell’s version off his solo album, yeah real original Simon! WTF!

  • Michelle

    Simon’s a smart one and I’m glad he’s backing David C, and that he was as meh about what we thought was the coronation of David A as a lot of us.
    If only the other contestants could find songs and arrangements as interesting as David C’s and bring that level of performance too…then Idol would be so much more fun to watch!
    (By the way, Simon said he knew it wasn’t an original arrangement. Also, some David A fans strike me as creepy and aggressive. jmo…)

  • Sally

    Love, love, love David Cook! Have been voting steadily for him since “Hello”. Archuleta has a very nice voice but often seems to be behind the band/orchestra a lot. I often find myself thinking he needs to speed up his phrasing a bit. Also seems much younger than his age– about 17 going on 13. I think he will be very good but needs time to mature.

  • KG

    “…because you kind of think that it’s like they’re all hypnotized! [Laughs] That’s probably the best way of describing it. It’s like they all wake up after it’s finished and think ‘What have I just been doing?'”
    hahahahaha that’s exactly how it looks like!!

  • CMU

    Simon is a BAMF. I agree with him 98% of the time. He’s very shrewd and honest, which is fantastic. Thank goodness something might be done about that horrible “mosh pit” with the zombie-like arm waving….BRAINS!!!!

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