Simon Cowell predicts ‘failure’ of new boyband venture before it’s even begun

Music mogul behind ‘The X Factor’ is launching a nationwide search to find a band who might replicate the success of One Direction

Roisin O'Connor
Wednesday 05 June 2024 11:06 BST
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Simon Cowell launches nationwide hunt for the next One Direction

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Simon Cowell appeared to preempt the inevitable split of his next boyband as he said that it would be an avenue to a “really successful solo career”.

The music mogul behind reality TV contests The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent is launching a nationwide search for a brand new pop group, as he lamented the absence of an act that has been able to replicate One Direction’s success.

It has been 14 years since Cowell and his fellow judges formed One Direction on The X Factor. After coming in second place in 2010, the group shot to worldwide fame and released several hit albums before their indefinite hiatus in 2016.

Since then, its five members Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne have embarked on solo careers with varying degrees of success.

Cowell told the PA news agency that he is praying he will find a band “as good as One Direction and to find the records as good as they made”.

“You can't fake this, even though I'm the one going out to do the auditions, it really depends on the individuals. If you find the right people I'm not someone who says dress like this, say this, do this, it is just not my style and I never once did that with One Direction,” he said.

One Direction in 2012
One Direction in 2012 (getty)

The 64-year-old said that the decline in UK artists breaking through internationally was “shocking”, as he claimed there hadn’t been a successful boyband since 1D.

“The only way to do it is do what I used to do, go out and do it and audition and do it face to face and don't have any pre-casting,” he said. “In other words, don't have people choose people in advance, it really is first come first served.

“You have to see a lot of people, the auditions are quick and you have to pray and hope enough people turn up and the right people turn up. If we are lucky enough to find the right people then there has never been a better time to be in a band right now.”

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Simon Cowell (right) with his fellow Britain’s Got Talent judges, Bruno Tonioli, Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden
Simon Cowell (right) with his fellow Britain’s Got Talent judges, Bruno Tonioli, Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden (ITV / screengrab)

Cowell was dismissive of aspiring artists who try to find fame through social media platforms such as TikTok.

“I have no interest in those people whatsoever,” he said. “I'm only interested in people who want to show up and tell us why they want to do this.

“And if they can't be bothered to do this, then they're the wrong people to be in the band, because it's hard work being in a band.”

(L-R) Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan of One Direction in 2014
(L-R) Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan of One Direction in 2014 (Getty Images)

He continued: “Posting videos in your bedroom, it's not enough and I'm trying to prove a point here that to succeed in the music business, you got to get up, you've got to turn up, you've got to show up.

“And by showing up, it shows that you've got ambition. Because the decline in UK artists breaking internationally right now is shocking.

“I've never ever seen such a bad, sorry state of affairs. And I'm not doing this as a crusade but I hope to prove a point that this is one of the ways of getting a career in the music business. Because if the band's successful, as One Direction has shown, you do have a chance of having a really successful solo career.”

Harry Styles has enjoyed a hugely successful career as a solo artist since One Direction split
Harry Styles has enjoyed a hugely successful career as a solo artist since One Direction split (PA Archive)

He will be joined for the auditions by “people he trusts” from his record label and TV company, who he believes “genuinely made a difference in One Direction's career”.

He added: “I'm praying that this is going to work and even if it doesn't work, at least I can say, 'Well, I tried.' I'm really passionate about this. And I always always believed that there are gems out there waiting to be discovered.”

Simon Cowell puts up a billboard as part of his search for the UK’s next boyband
Simon Cowell puts up a billboard as part of his search for the UK’s next boyband (Joe Pepler/PinPep)

The search is being documented by a TV crew from Box To Box Films, the company behind Formula 1: Drive To Survive. Cowell said he is “getting close” to announcing the format it will take.

Auditions are taking place in Newcastle on 4 and 5 July, Liverpool on 7 and 8 July, Dublin on 28 and 29 July, and London on 1, 2 and 3 August, with registration open at simonneedsyou.com.

Additional reporting by PA.

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