‘America’s Got Talent’: Simon Cowell Reveals How His Son Changed His Judging Style

by Alex Falls

Simon Cowell has spent a long time on TV judging singers hoping to make it into the music business. Although he’s spent decades working as a music producer, it was his time on American Idol that turned him into a household name.

His famous blunt feedback on singers lacking the talent they hoped for became iconic. He exited the show in 2010, but he continued his trademark musical judgment in other shows like The X Factor and currently America’s Got Talent.

After judging talent for more than 20 years, Cowell admits his approach to young artists has changed. While speaking to Fox News, Cowell credited fatherhood for becoming easier on young talent.

“I have a son, I have much more empathy for the younger acts,” Cowell said. “The truth is you want everyone to succeed. I just get frustrated when people … don’t do well or make their own decision … It’s frustrating.”

Cowell is engaged to marry Lauren Silverman. The couple has been together since 2004 and in 2014 the two welcomed son Eric, now 8.

When Cowell first appeared to American audiences on American Idol, he often received criticism for his shortness with people chasing their dreams. Some saw him as the crusher of dreams because he was so forceful with his negative feedback.

“When I first started making these shows, they just got loads of terrible people and asked me to comment on them,” Cowell said. “‘Well, they’re all terrible. What do you want me to say?’ Then, over the years, I think people got better now.”

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This week’s episode of America’s Got Talent saw a contestant that Cowell said was one of the best he had ever seen. Tuesday’s live episode concluded with the young Sara James performing the Elton John classic “Rocket Man.”

“If we didn’t have people like Sara, we wouldn’t be able to make these shows,” Cowell said. “You pray every year that you could find someone great, and they’re going to have a great career afterward. I have a feeling that’s going to happen to our artists tonight.”

One thing that keeps Cowell coming back to these shows is the unexpected nature of the live show. Many times people don’t thrive in the light of the stage, but then others like James come along and remind people like Cowell what it’s all about.

“You never quite know what to expect on a live show. It was fun. It was interesting. Not everyone was great,” Cowell said. “In my opinion, [James] was in a different league, genuinely different league. But we’ll see if America agrees.” 

Cowell spoke with People backstage after the epic moment.

“That was one of those moments you don’t see very often on any show — it was incredible,” Cowell said. “I’ve done this a long time and there are those occasions whether it’s Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Leona Lewis where someone has just got everything right on the day it matters. I think we witnessed one of those moments tonight.”