Now that we’ve made it through the first round of live performances and eliminations on “The X Factor” certain favorites are starting to emerge. And Simon Cowell is looking like the judge to beat, again.
Cowell, who is mentoring the Groups this season, was crowing over the performance of Huntington Beach bro band Emblem3 as he met the press after Thursday’s results show. “This was to me One Direction, where I thought we’ve found something really special,” Cowell said recalling the success of that other boy band he helped launch on the U.K. edition of “X Factor.”
“I think they’re the anti-One Direction,” Cowell adds about Emblem3. “I think they’re very different. I like the idea you can have two bands competing against each other, different sets of bands.”
He believes in the group — consisting of brothers Wesley and Keaton Stromberg and their friend Drew Chadwick — so much that he even let them choose their own song for Wednesday night’s Top 16 performance. Usually it’s up to the judge to pick a song, but as Cowell revealed: “Emblem3 chose their song, [Matisyahu’s “One Day”], last night. I’d never heard it before. It was going to be their safety song and they played it for me. I said ‘Are you nuts? You’ve got to sing that song Wednesday!’ But I would never have chosen that song.”
“What I’m thinking now, it’s not just about winning,” Cowell explains. “I want to have the biggest selling act. That’s what it’s all about. I’m going to use this process with the groups I’ve got to try to turn them into legitimate recording artists.”
Cowell also has a strong group in hip-hop trio Lyric 145, but L.A. Reid couldn’t resist trying to shake Cowell’s confidence after Lyric performed a mashup of “Boom! Shake the Room” and “Gangnam Style” on the performance show.
“You want the truth? It was payback,” Reid explains about his criticism on Wednesday’s show that the song choice wasn’t authentic enough. “Didn’t you see how Simon beat me up [over song choices]? I’m being 100% honest. He was right about my song choice being horrible. He actually did good, but I just couldn’t give it to him. [The performance] was really fun.”
“That was very awkward for me, because this is not an area of music that I know well,” Cowell admits. “I tried to make you insecure about it,” Reid confesses. “You did!” Cowell exclaims.
Of course, not every act was lucky enough to make the Top 12. Both Cowell and Reid agree that the one they were most upset to see go was 13-year-old Diamond White, eliminated by Britney Spears after a sing-off with Arin Ray.
“That was the toughest call of the night in my opinion,” Reid says. “That was a really special voice [from Diamond] versus a really handsome and charismatic guy [in Arin]. The room was screaming for this guy. It was like mania versus a really special talent.”
Cowell says he agrees “100%. To be fair, [Ray] did well. He didn’t come out sulking or think he was gonna lose. He did obviously the right thing. [It was] an unlucky night for [White], because she’s so good.”
Cowell says he’s not sure what choice he would’ve made, but if it was up to him the sing-off would’ve gone a different way: “I think I probably would’ve put Diamond through automatically, and I would’ve had Beatrice and Arin [in the sing-off].”