Simon Cowell looks for UK's next megastar boy band

‘The X Factor’ star on K-pop, talent shows and TikTok

By Reuters

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Simon Cowell (Photo by AFP)
Simon Cowell (Photo by AFP)

Published: Wed 26 Jun 2024, 12:36 PM

Last updated: Wed 26 Jun 2024, 12:37 PM

Fourteen years after launching One Direction on The X Factor, music mogul and television personality Simon Cowell is looking for the UK's next big boy band, embarking on a new project differing from the talent shows he is known for.

Cowell will hold auditions for 16-to-18-year-olds in Liverpool, Dublin and London over the summer.

"Weirdly, since One Direction, there hasn't been a successful UK band, which I don't understand,” Cowell said.

"As an entry point into the music business, it's by far the best route. Diana Ross became Diana Ross because she was in the Supremes. Beyonce became Beyonce 'cos she was in Destiny's Child."

Unlike The X Factor, there will be no weekly televised shows or vote but a potential documentary series.

"As a viewer, I'd find it more interesting, particularly if I was a performer, I'd really want to see why people get chosen and what is the process you go through," Cowell said.

"In my opinion, that's never really been shown, certainly since I've been making these shows ... you see a side of it. I don't think you really see the interesting part ... the highs and lows. And trust me, there are a lot lows.”

The X Factor last aired in Britain in 2018. Once hugely popular, it had seen ratings fall over the years.

“More people than you think watch these shows ... Now, of course, in different ways as well - on YouTube, TikTok," Cowell said. "I think they're still very popular."

He said talent shows had a purpose, helping new artists get noticed.

"Right now with the amount of songs that are being uploaded every day and the amount of artists that are breaking globally ... I think it's something like two UK artists in seven years have broken globally ... which is horrendous.

"A lot of these artists get their first break (on televised talent shows)... even their first audition if it goes out and goes viral, that is a step on the ladder."

In the last few years, K-pop bands such as BTS have become hit phenomena building global fan bases.

“K-pop filled a void," Cowell said. “So when I look at BTS filling out Wembley Stadium, you say, well, then of course there's still a market for bands, possibly bigger than ever.”

Cowell, who said his ideal boy band are “people who know who they are", started his search earlier this month. Asked what response he had received so far, he said: “You really don't know until you turn up on the day ... If not enough people turn up or that I just don't think they're right, then we’re gonna have to keep going.”


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