Can You Blame Simon Cowell For Maybe Wanting To Leave “American Idol”?

noah | April 21, 2009 10:30 am

I came to the whole Susan Boyle thing a bit late–I think I arrived somewhere in between the backlash and the backlash to the backlash–but one thing got me about her performance of “I Dreamed A Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent : She made Simon Cowell’s face contort into an expression that made it seem like the grouchy mogul actually loved his job. Given that on these shores, he’s been a bastion of fairly grouchy sanity even when he’s claimed to love the performances he’s watched, is it any wonder that he’s thinking about maybe leaving the States behind and focusing full-time on his career as chief arbiter of Britain’s singing talent?

Of course the virginal yet strong-voiced Boyle was a plant; that’s not the point. The point is that Cowell seems to be growing weary of the demands placed on him by his transcontinental commute, the three other judges crowding the table, and, of course, the American market, which, let’s face it, has proven to be more frustrating to his ambitions of flooding the dwindling ranks of record shops with Leona Lewis clones and novelty records by aw-shucks regular folks than his homeland. He’s already talking about putting out a record by Boyle; previous Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts, a.k.a. “the dorky guy who sang opera,” sold four million copies of his debut album. The American Idol equivalent to those two singers is probably Taylor Hicks, whose Soul Patrol-fueled success seemed to frustrate Cowell more than anything and whose album sales haven’t reached anywhere near Pottsian heights.

Of course, this could all be a last-ditch effort by Cowell to save the faltering ratings of this season of Idol, which has had its own struggles this year. (Tonight’s Disco Night should put pretty much all of them, from Danny Gokey’s drunken-uncle flailing to the four judges’ shouting over one another so much that the show runs past any DVR’s limitations, on display.) Or it could just be a way for him to push the producers to lift the age limit on contestants, since it being stuck in the late 20s has resulted in a lot of bred-from-birth singingbots making it past the “Shoot The Freak” stage of the show in lieu of people like Boyle, who are at least more relatable than another preternaturally voiced “only 16-year-old.”

Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent [Dailymotion] Will Simon Cowell Quit While He’s So Far Ahead? [NYT]