Drum Roll Please: The five songs Simon Cowell never (EVER) wants to hear again at an audition are as follows:
- R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly"
- Etta James' "At Last" ("I'm allergic to it," he says.)
- The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" ("Whoever said that was my favorite song was joking.")
- Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours"
- John Legend's "Ordinary People" ("It's never as good as the original.")
Cowell delivered his list Tuesday afternoon during a conference call to promote the Sept. 21 premiere of "X Factor" on Fox. During the call, Cowell was his customary self, declaring the show's superiority to NBC's "The Voice," stressing the "X Factor's" back stories, praising Antonio "L.A." Reid and taking pot shots at Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul.
"L.A. Reid is a revelation," Cowell said of his fellow judge's TV work to date, which will air taped shows up until the first week of November. "Nicole was (odd) in a fantastically self-centered way and she wasn't even aware of it. In every city she changes her accent. In New York City, she has a Brooklyn accent; in Dallas she has a twang.
"With Paula, within five minutes of a shoot she's not aware that the cameras are not on any more and she's still prepared to argue." Their reunion? "It's like getting your old dog back from the pound."
Listing the contestant's tales of struggles and successes as second only to talent, Cowell is bullish on the back stories that he feels will be crucial to the show's success. "Can you be bothered to invest time in (the show)? It's more than a subtle difference. If you don't have (singer profiles), people will switch off.
"('The Voice') didn't do it as well as us. I kind of expected them to -- that's the nature of the game. It's a necessary part of the format. Anyone can mentor, but can you mentor and create a star? You have to recognize what we have done (in the U.K.), where our third runner-up One Direction is going to have the (fastest-selling) single of the year.
"I got frustrated (on 'Idol') when we weren't allowed to do things with the contestants on a weekly basis. That's why some contestants haven't done that well. (It became) a popularity contest, which is why you have to update the process and take risks."