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The X Factor: Simon Cowell's American Dream

Updated on January 13, 2011

From Pop Idol to X Factor

Way back in 2001 an unknown music executive lined up as a judge on a brand new TV talent show created by Spice Girls manager, Simon Fuller. Young people would for the first time get to aufition for 12 weeks live on national television. That unknown music executive was Simon Cowell and the show was called Pop Idol. Now, as the majority of people reading this will probably be American, I should say that this fledgling show was sold to the USA and named American Idol, probably the biggest show on US television.

Ironically, Pop Idol in the UK only lasted for two years and was replaced with Simon Cowell's own show, The X Factor. Cowell remained on American Idol but never held any of the format ownership rights, working solely as an employee. However, across the pond, he was owner producer and star of the X Factor, the master of his own universe. The X Factor differed from Pop Idol in that age categories were introduced with no age limit. Each category was assigned a judge as a mentor to get them through the process. The production on this new show is on a much larger scale to Pop Idol, or indeed, American Idol. Huge dance routines, casts of dancers, extras, actors and sometime acrobats join the contestants for a polished, live and exciting performance. The UK public then call a premium rate number in their millions to vote for their favourite.

After a long legal battle with Simon Fuller, who claimed the format of the X Factor had been 'stolen' from that of 'Pop Idol,' an out of court settlement was agreed and Cowell was free to expand the format of his show which included Sharon Osbourne as a judge.  The show was expanded to air two nights a week and the list of A-listers grew - no doubt helped by Simon Cowell's American profile.  Yet it took until 2007 when a very shy and unassuming officer worker took the UK by storm and won that year's X Factor......her name was Leona Lewis!

That's a Hollywood smile!

The American Dream

Following season 9 of American Idol, Simon Cowell left the hit US show to concentrate on his deal with FOX to screen the US version of X Factor. American fans of Cowell will be in for a culture shock as the X Factor is a much bigger show with huge studio set piece performances, glitz, glamour and at least two celebrity performances per week. Artists that have appeared on the British version on 2010 include Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Bon Jovi, Katy Perry and Michael Buble.

There have been rumours about potential judges on the US version of the show and they have ranged from George Michael, Katy Perry and British judge, Cheryl Cole. Incidentally, Cheryl Cole is tipped to make waves stateside in 2011 after signing a multi million dollar deal with an American label.

British TV company, ITV, were issued a warning by regulatory authorities in December of 2010 after the final of X Factor included raunchy and provocative dance routines by both Rihanna and Christina Aguilera. This may be more of a problem in what is a much more conservative United States. One thing the American public can be sure of is that The X Factor is very different from American Idol and Simon Cowell is taking no prisoners!

Katy Perry joins the judges!

Katy Perry takes her seat alongside Cheryl Cole - both tipped to be judges on the US version.
Katy Perry takes her seat alongside Cheryl Cole - both tipped to be judges on the US version.

Nicole Scherzinger

A real life Pussykat Doll joins the judges!
A real life Pussykat Doll joins the judges!

Christina! Half naked at 8pm!

Rihanna kicks ass! This song was huge in the UK

Rebecca Ferguson - 2010 contestant who came second!

Rebecca Ferguson's first audition on X Factor 2010

More to Come

The launch of X Factor is scheduled for October in the US, around the time the UK version's live shows begin. Simon Cowell has vowed to film both shows at the same time, pond hopping between ITV in the UK and FOX. What's certain is the X Factor will be a huge hit stateside and don't be surprised if it surpasses the popularity of Pop Idol with new judge J-Lo!

All updates on the American show will be added to this Hub so please follow!


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    • suziecat7 profile image


      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thanks for the info. I'm looking forward to checking out X Factor though I'll likely watch American Idol again this year. Great Hub.

    • katiem2 profile image

      Katie McMurray 

      8 years ago from Westerville

      I think Simon has acheived a great goal. I love the concept of X Factor and I am happy he left American Idol to pursue his real dream and how great that he did what he had to do to get to do what he wanted to do. NOW that's a great example a going for it! :) Katie

    • Malcolm_Cox profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Newcastle, England

      I think it will blow American Idol out of the water!

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 

      8 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Well, I'm South African, not American, reading this, and I love x factor. Maybe it's because I've seen a few more of them than have I have (seen) American Idol.

      I watched the series Leona Lewis won, and had a UK friend send me a Leona Lewis cd when it came out. I haven't watched it in a few years, but loved how Sharon Osbourne and Simon Cowell just seemed to "make the show" - I often watched purely to see what they'd get up to next, or what they'd say, and how the audience responded to them. Great fun.


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