Bienvenidos a Miami, X Factor

Simon Cowell of the British TV talent competition "The X Factor." Auditions for the new U.S. version will take place Thursday at the BankUnited Center. COURTESY IAN DERRY, FOX

Think you have what it takes to perform for millions watching on national television and nab a $5 million recording contract in the process?

Simon Cowell of “American Idol” fame has brought “The X Factor” to the United States in the latest talent search.

Already a success across the globe, the winner will land a $5 million recording deal. Auditions are open to all legal U.S. citizens over 12 years old who do not have a music-recording contract. Groups are also welcome.

Cowell, who has been making the press rounds, has said that America’s “The X Factor” will be more extreme and bigger than its predecessors all over the world, which includes the United Kingdom and Australia.

A record crowd of 15,000 people turned up for the Los Angeles audition March 27.

“Over the years, the way the show developed in the UK, just the amount of people that showed up got greater and greater, the scale of the live show is a big production,” Cowell said in an exclusive phone interview with The Miami Hurricane. “You’ve got this big age range from 12 to… 100 years old on this show. It’s got that kind of feel to it. Even our first open day in LA we had a big, big turnout, which is unusual for a new show, and people seem excited about it.”

That turnout is something Cowell didn’t want to anticipate until he received a call an hour into the registration process.

“I was always very cautious about it to be honest with you because you can’t assume that people are just going to bother turning up because it’s an early start and a long day” he said. “It was a buzz and people were excited and when you get that many people together you get a great atmosphere and all the auditionees were excited because they saw this massive contrast between the age ranges. And when you add groups it brings another dynamic to the show.”

That buzz is something Cowell hopes carries over to the next city: Miami.

Auditions will take place beginning 8 a.m. Thursday at the University of Miami’s own BankUnited Center.

Wristbands will be distributed 6 a.m. Wednesday until 6 a.m. Thursday. Auditioners will not be permitted to camp out. Two forms of identification must be shown in order to prove one’s age.

The Magic City was one of six U.S. locations chosen. Others include New York/New Jersey (April 14), Seattle (April 20), Chicago (April 27) and Dallas (May 26).

Cowell said the decision to pick Miami was an easy one. He mentioned how Miami clubs play music from all over the world- everything from “European sensibility” to Latin vibes.

“I love Miami. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world, that’s why I love going there. I like the whole vibe. The fact that you have this massive Latin influence, it’s over the top and I think it kind of reflects what’s happening in the charts at the moment,” Cowell said. “You sort of feel artists like Lady Gaga or Katy Perry or Rihanna just fitting in with what’s so great about Miami. It’s over the top, it’s extreme, it’s different and that’s what I hope Miami brings to the show and people aren’t afraid to show their personality.”

Part of what Cowell says makes”The X Factor” different from other talent shows is that the show’s producers want people showing their true personalities.

“We really want people to audition in a very different way from how they would normally audition for a talent show and not be afraid to stand out in the crowd and show your culture,” Cowell said. “I think it’s important.”

“The X Factor” is different from other talent shows such as “American Idol” in that the judges will serve as mentors to the young male and female singers, over 30s and groups in the final round.

Each category will be given a judge and in the process it even creates a competition between them.

“[The judges] work with them closely, help give them material to try to make them into better artists, give them proper advice, so it’s not them making their own decisions,” Cowell said. “I used to film these shows for years saying ‘I hate this song, I hate what you’re wearing,’ and on this show you actually get to do something about it.”

In order to survive the music industry in 2011, Cowell believes that an artist must be interesting and colorful. He uses Lady Gaga as an example of paving the way and loosening a business that 3-5 years ago “took itself incredibly seriously.”

“She came along and she broke the rules and she said, ‘you know what, anything goes as long as you’re interesting and you’re original and you’re entertaining,’” Cowell said. “I think she’s giving a lot of artists inspiration.”

And how does that relate to his new show, “X Factor”?

Can a musician survive the industry if he or she does not possess that intangible that seems to propel certain artists to stardom and success?

“This all kind of fits in with what we’ve been trying to do on this show which is to say we don’t discriminate on age or how you want to dress,” Cowell said. “We’re trying to be part of what’s happening in the real world. So, to answer your question, whether you’re David Bowie or Lady Gaga or Elton John, people who have reinvented themselves, the answer is no. I think you do have to have the X factor.”

Christina De Nicola may be contacted at cdenicola@themiamihurricane.com.


– Registration day: Starts Wed at 6 a.m. and ends at 6 a.m. Thurs. Solo acts and groups can register.
– Audition day: Thursday; arrive before 8 a.m.

For more information visit thexfactor.blogs.fox.com/tag/miami.

April 2, 2011


Christina De Nicola

Editor In Chief

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