Cheryl Fernandez-Versini talks about what she is hoping for on this year's X Factor and talks about what makes a good contestant. The X Factor can be seen Saturday and Sunday evenings at 8pm on ITV.
You’ve been questioning the contestants about their musical inspirations this year, why?
I like to get to know someone a little bit before they start to sing, just to get a vibe, a taste of them. If you think in the future you are going to work with them you need to know what it is you’re going to be working with. There seems to be a lot of a retro thing happening at the moment where there is a lot of young people singing really old music. I’m already thinking, ‘If you end up in my category I know what I’m going to do’, and getting to know them and how they respond. Sometimes they are defensive, shy, sometimes they are open.
Can you tell by their answers whether they just want to be famous?
That’s a big thing for me, if I feel someone’s coming on just to be famous. I have seen somebody that came on to audition and ended up on another reality show that had nothing to do with music. I could sense it at the time that she just wanted to be famous. If you just want to be famous then this is not the show for you, this is hard work. You have to want to be a pop star.
Who is the girl you are talking about?
She was a girl who was just in Big Brother called Sam. She auditioned for us in Edinburgh last year and I just knew it wasn’t real, she was trying to be kooky. It’s a shame because some people queue up for days and dream about it for years and years, they get turned away because maybe they were too nervous on the day of auditions previous to seeing us. And then there’s someone like her who just wants to be a known person, I do get a little bit annoyed, especially when people get defensive when you’re just trying to talk to them. I’m getting a bit long in the tooth for it! I told someone the other day that their attitude stank! That’s what happens in the industry, there are long days and sometimes you don’t sleep so when people moan that it’s been such a long day, I give them an idea! If you are going into this industry then you are not going to have a life, this is going to be your life.
Do you think the quality of the contestants you have seen this year is better than you have ever seen on the show?
It’s so interesting, I think out of the past few years this is the best standard and quality of talent that we have ever had. Uniqueness, one-off people you see and just go, ‘wow’. I hate to be clichéd and cheesy but the X Factor means something; it’s why the show is called that. It’s the thing you can’t explain or put your finger on, it just makes you feel something. That’s why when people keep saying to me, ‘What are you looking for?’, I haven’t come here this year with a preconceived idea of what I am looking for, I haven’t looked at the market and thought we need this or that. I’m going o ff literally how I feel when I listen to and have a conversation with these people face to face.
A guy from Australia blew you all away, what is it like when someone surprises you?
He came on and whether you are that kind of person or not, there’s always that thing of judging a book by its cover. There just is, I guess that’s why with some of the other shows you don’t get to see the contestants initially. You mustn’t do that and they are actually proving a lot of people wrong, like, ‘You thought I was going to be one of those contestants people were going to laugh at or shout ‘off , off . off ’ to’, which I hate personally. But then they sing and it just shuts people down. I love it, the judgement just stops.
Social media doesn’t help, does it?
It’s so interesting. Right now we are living in a world where social media is so judgemental. Even your everyday people who post pictures on Instagram are being judged by whatever it is they are saying or how they look or how their make-up is. Then you get someone like this guy who represents everything that’s unique being accepted by those same people who are being judgemental. It’s very interesting.
He was so good he made Rita cry, didn’t he?
Yeah, I actually turned to Rita and I saw her going, and I thought that this is the first time she’s actually going to understand what it feels like when someone touches you in this environment. She was like, ‘I have never experienced that before’.
Some of the bands have smashed it this year, are you excited?
The groups this year are the best they have ever been. We have got three groups that I would take, right now from their first audition, straight through to the live shows and I would have no qualms about doing that. No fear.
Looking forward to the live shows, what are you most excited about?
I had an idea to change up the categories so that we have one of each, I think that makes it far more competitive, far more of a challenge for the mentors and more of an open competition because, for example, Simon might get the best group, Rita the best boy, I might have the best over and Nick the best girl. People will be like, ‘Who on earth is going to win?’. Sometimes you get a strong category and it’s obvious it’s going to be one of those, if you mix it and we have got talent across every board then it’s going to be wide open and no one’s going to be able to guess who’s going to win.
Do you think there will be rows on the judging panel?
I hope not. I don’t think it’s necessary. You get passionate and protective of your acts, that’s normal. I think ultimately we all want to have a great season and to have someone great win, whoever that person belongs to shouldn’t really matter, not really.
There is bound to be a style war between you and Rita, what do you make of that?
I mean, that for me has never been part of the show, it’s part of everything beyond the show. For me it’s about the contestants and the people singing on the stage that night, it’s not about who I am wearing or what dress I’m wearing. I’m just going to focus on my contestants.
How much do you want to win the show?
I want to win if I have got the right person. I don’t want to win with someone who can’t go further. I want to win with someone who I really believe has got the ability to have major success and live their dream, which is what they have come here for.
Will you be performing during the live shows?
You won’t be seeing me perform this year. I’m focussed on my charity, I have got a trust at the moment that’s taking a lot of work and obviously this show is a massive job in itself. I’m just having fun in the studio doing bits and pieces for maybe next year, but not this year, I’m totally focussed on the show and on the charity.
Courtesy of itv