It's a Cruel, Cruel World

Simon Cowell is cruel. He’s heartless and cantankerous. And this, it appears, is news to a lot of people. The American Idol judge and his partners in crime Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson are under fire this year for being big, big meanies to all of the terrible, terrible singers hoping to win a Golden Ticket to the chocolate factory, umm, Hollywood.

The karaoke competition writ large thundered back last week, pillorying hopeful but hopeless singers and sending them fleeing in tears. Cowell has been in fine form, calling one bug-eyed kid a “bush baby,” and dryly responding to another woman, who hoped that a drink of water would help her performance, "you could lie in a bath with your mouth open and you couldn't sing." But my favourite moment was when he told another that she could move on with her life now that she knew she would never be a singer – and he meant it as a good thing. Even Randy Jackson got in on the act, single-handily destroying the career of a vocal coach, stating that nobody should ever pay for lessons from him. Look for a lawsuit in the near future.

Are they really crueler this year? Not surprisingly, Cowell is having none of it. “If you don’t want to hear that, don’t show up,” he told TV critics at a news conference on Saturday. “I think they’re aware that they’re not very good and they’re going to have a bad time.” Personally, I do think they are being a bit nastier this season, but let’s face it, that’s what the first half of the show is about. As Daily Show commentator John Hodgman so succinctly stated, “the ritual humiliation of these outsiders does make me feel more normal.”

I think everyone is a little bit complicit in these tone-deaf, melody-butchering non-singers making it before the judges. First off, it makes for some entertaining TV before the voting begins. Secondly, I pretty sure some of these people are either deliberately trying to terrible or they know that they are and are trying to make a buck of their two minutes of fame. “Do you think that William Hung is mad that he came on the show?” asks Cowell. Exactly.


  1. I think that basically, as the years go by, they have to keep upping the ante so to speak, so to continue to be entertaining, they have to be more cruel than they were in previous years.

  2. So by Season 10 we should expect to see terrible singers have their heads loped off and placed on stakes outside the audition room as a warning to all the William Hungs of the world.

  3. I don't know what it is about this season... Paula and Randy seem a little meaner but mostly the hopefuls are way, way sadder. I feel for these poor pathetic souls (and that includes Paula)

  4. Simon Cowell is only saying out loud what millions of people are muttering in their homes as they witness the parade of the bizarre and talentless.

  5. It truly is a cornucopia of the deluded and delusional (and that includes Paula).

  6. She's not deluded, she's Quaaluded.