He's not known for being a softie, but he does know a thing or two about the music industry. That's why in preparation for the arrival of The X Factor to our shores, producers of the talent show sought advice for the contestants from the US and UK’s toughest reality show judge, Simon Cowell.
As usual, he didn't hold back, saying the contestants will have to be ruthless. “I would say to all of you [planning to audition] you've got to be killers. “You've got to believe that you are not just the best in New Zealand, you are the best in the world. You've got to have that self belief, you've got to work hard and you have to be prepared to destroy your opponents.”
The man responsible for discovering Susan Boyle has high hopes of finding an act worthy of international superstardom in New Zealand.
“I always say on these shows, you've only got to find one,” he says. “That's why we've said to the producers, ‘Don't worry about finding 50, just find me one real star – a Leona Lewis, One Direction, someone like that.’”
Fellow judge Demi Lovato knows about the ups and downs of fame, battling an eating disorder and depression after years of being in the public eye on the Disney channel. The Skyscraper singer is confident Kiwi hopefuls will have what it takes to reach the level of past international winners – as long as they make the right song choices.
“What you guys need to do for your auditions is prepare the best song that suits your voice and shows off who you are as an artist,” she says. “Don't sing the judges’ songs because we know what you're trying to do – you're trying to kiss our butts.”
Melanie Amaro, winner of The X Factor USA 2011, knows exactly how the contestants will be feeling, but promises the butterflies are worth it in the end. “Go out and give it all you've got because this is your one shot!”
Auditions for The X Factor New Zealand start on January 5, travelling to 27 locations around the country.