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Simon Cowell - what's his problem?

We know what Simon Cowell's stock-in-trade is - the quick, one-line put down that sucks the life blood from a no-hoper, and often from genuine aspiring musicians too. And that's the problem...

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Come now, you're saying you haven't heard of Simon Cowell? I know, you're just pretending you haven't ever watched Pop Idol, American Idol or X-Factor!

We know what Simon Cowell's stock-in-trade is - the quick, one-line put down that sucks the life blood from a no-hoper, and often from genuine aspiring musicians too. And that's the problem...

If someone genuinely doesn't have any talent, then it is simple human mercy to tell them so. To do otherwise would condemn them to possibly years of hopeless struggle, when they might have found success doing something else. So Cowell is right to do that - plenty of people wouldn't have the nerve.

However, to put down a genuine aspiring musician in one 'clever' line is just as wrong. Even more so perhaps.

The point about Simon Cowell is that he shows the classical symptoms of over-compensation for an underlying insecurity. And of course he is insecure - A&R managers are, as a bunch, dreadfully insecure because they can only drive around in their swish cars and live the high life as long as they sign successful acts, and those acts continue to be successful.

One lean period and it all comes to an end.

Obviously Simon Cowell has enough money now that it doesn't matter, but the instinct is still there.

The plain fact about many successful A&R managers is that their success came about through a combination of luck as well as judgment. And mostly they just have a 'feeling' for a good act. They don't actually know anything about music.

So when Simon Cowell issues a put down, he might be right that at this point in time an act might not be ready for success. But he never justifies why adequately, nor gives advice on how to progress.

Some of Cowell's statements are plainly ludicrous. How many times has he told someone they were out of tune when they were not, or vice versa? Plenty of times. He doesn't know a thing about the making of music and shouldn't even dare to comment.

But the viewing public has a thirst for blood and these shows prosper. Do you want to know something even worse?

They don't select the best acts from the auditions, as they wouldn't make such good television!

They select acts they know will be 'on the edge', as this makes a better TV drama.

So if you ever auditioned for a Simon Cowell show, just bear in mind that you might have been rejected because you were too good!

"That was terrible, I mean just awful. My advice would be if you want to pursue a career in the music business, don't. Did you really believe you could become the American Idol? Well, then, you're deaf. Why have you been wasting your time for eight years? If your lifeguard duties were as good as your singing, a lot of people would be drowning"
- Simon Cowell

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By David Mellor Wednesday April 5, 2006
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