Ah, Simon Cowell: the wit, the jabs, the accent. If you’re like me – a fan of American Idol (Hi Sanjaya!) – you probably find yourself having a love/hate relationship with good ol’ Simon. On one hand he’s cute, he’s funny, and he’s extremely honest: he’s seemingly what every girl wants to find in a man. But, on the other hand, he’s a little too honest. He’s not the type of guy a woman should approach in a new pair of jeans and ask, "Do these make me look fat?" Sometimes Simon should simply plead the fifth.
Still, you have to respect his honesty. In a world where lying and brown nosing run rampant, Simon has taken a stand and said what most people are afraid to say: exactly what he thinks. This leaves many of us curious about who he really is; just who is the Cowell behind the scowl?
Simon Cowell was born in Brighton, England to a music industry property executive and a socialite. From a large family – and here we thought he was an only child – Simon has three half brothers, a half sister, and a younger brother. A family of success, many of his siblings are multimillionaires.
After dropping out of school at the age of 17, Simon teetered between a few random jobs before, with the help of his father, landing a job in the mail room at EMI Music Publishing. Going from the mail room to where Simon is now may seem like something straight out of television, but for Simon – a man known for blending TV with real life – this "television like plot" proved to be his reality.
He soon began to climb the ranks of EMI, periodically leaving to pursue other endeavors, only to return when those endeavors failed. In 1985, however, the failing temporarily ceased: Simon, along with a coworker, launched an independent record label called Fanfare Records. For four years Fanfare saw success, but in 1989 – when the mother company of Fanfare discontinued – Simon was met with bankruptcy, debt, and a move back in with his parents.
In late 1989, Simon landed a job as an A&R representative for BMG. Here he signed a number of pop acts who were well received and began releasing novelty recordings. These featured, among others, songs from the Teletubbies and the Power Rangers.
In 2001, Simon was given his proverbial gavel and became a judge on Pop Idol, a British television reality series that featured undiscovered young talent in the United Kingdom. Like its spin-off, American Idol, Pop Idol involved viewers calling in to vote for their favorites.
Born from Pop Idol, American Idol hit the airwaves in 2002 and – with Simon at the judging helm – became an instant hit. The success of American Idol is based on many factors – America’s love for music, the excitement of discovering talent that would otherwise go unnoticed, the ability to participate in the choice that is made – but one huge factor is simply Simon. Without people tuning in to see what he will say, American Idol would not have garnered such a huge fan base.
While working on American Idol, Simon also serves on the judging panel of The X Factor, a British talent show airing on Saturdays. Produced by Simon’s production company, The X Factor aims to find performers who possess that indescribable factor capable of making them a star. Unlike Pop Idol or American Idol, The X Factor has no age limit, allowing anyone over 14 to participate, and allows both solo singers and groups to enter the competition.
In 2006, Simon secured himself – both financially and in pop culture – by signing a five year contract worth 38 million. In addition to American Idol, Simon is involved with American Inventor, America’s Got Talent, Celebrity Duets, Grease is the Word, and Rock Rivals.
Love him or hate him – or go back and forth – American Idol would not be the same without Simon Cowell. He brings an element of surprise and brutal honesty to the show. Sometimes he seems cruel, but most of the time he simply appears like a man whose bark is way worse that his bite.
The biggest thing fans really have to appreciate about him is that when he sees someone who is a good singer, he doesn't play games: he tells them they're great and when he says it we know he means it. It is a sentiment dear to the heart, and one he conveys in my imagination each time I sing in the shower.