Figuring out Paula is probably a lost cause, but do you ever wonder what makes Simon Cowell tick? Why is he so mean? Does he ever get to revel in being right? How does he come up with his signature lines? We check in with the American Idol judge and let him speak for himself.
After you've heard what he has to say, you can chime in, in our ongoing debate: Has Simon Gone Too Far?
Why do you get perceived as mean? Is it the accent?
Yeah, I think it probably is a bit. The baddies in American film now are always English.
Do you feel pressure to be meaner this year?
The public always says, "Please say what we're thinking." And I genuinely think now when we're doing the audition shows, "What are the people at home thinking?" And I think that [the viewers] think they're terrible. So I tell [the contestants]. Maybe I say things in a slightly different way than other people, but the intention is to say what people are thinking when they're watching at home.
Do you spend your time off thinking up zingers?
Well you can't… because then it doesn't become a reality show. The good thing is, for us, there's no pressure because we only have to react to what's going on at the time, and if you start writing things down you're going to be outthinking the audience, and I would never do that.
How much of the judges' chemistry is a part and an appeal of the show?
We know each other well. Before we start, we sit down; we always have this conversation each year and say, "Look, we're not here as performers." We're here as judges, so you've got to suspend your disbelief for a moment and not think as someone on a TV show but someone who is genuinely here to find a good artist. Otherwise you can turn into a performer. So the fact that we know each other very well helps. It's entertaining, but I've seen shows where people have gone out of their way to be controversial and the audience doesn't like that. They have to feel like they're watching a real audition.
What's the worst fight you and Paula got into?
We had a major row. I got to the point in one of the cities where I said, "I can't sit next to you anymore," and left.
What was she doing?
What's her most annoying habit?
Being obnoxious. But to be fair, Randy was being obnoxious that day as well. Occasionally, they turn into American music critics. I got to the point I couldn't sit with them anymore.
Do you think they gang up on you?
A little bit. Not that that particularly bothered me, but there's a point in the day where you just think, "There's no point in me sitting next to you anymore. Do it yourself." So that's what I did.
What are some of the differences this year compared to other years?
You're going to see a bit more. We intentionally kept the cameras rolling rather than start/stop, which I think was important so you're not aware of being a performer. It's a continual filming throughout the day, which means the viewer at home gets to see an awful lot more than they saw before.
Has anyone you advised not to forget the fans come to you and said you were right?
Never. I could be doing this show for a million years, and you're never gonna be in that situation. They're recording artists, and artists by definition, particularly solo artists, are selfish.