Four days after Epic Records chairman/CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid announced that he’s quitting as a judge on “The X Factor” U.S., the show finally confirmed his departure. On December 17, 2012, an “X Factor” U.S. press conference was held at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, where the show’s live episodes take place. Fox will televise the show’s Season 2 finale in two parts on December 19 and December 20, 2012, which will be Reid’s last episodes as an “X Factor” judge. At the press conference, it was announced which duets will take place in the season finale.
Attending the press conference were the show’s judges (Reid, Simon Cowell, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato); co-hosts (Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez); and the final three contestant acts of 2012 (girl group Fifth Harmony, 13-year-old pop singer Carly Rose Sonenclar and 37-year-old country crooner Tate Stevens). Kardashian and Lopez were the moderators at the press conference. Cowell is Fifth Harmony’s “X Factor” mentor. Spears is Sonenclar’s “X Factor” mentor. Reid is Stevens’ “X Factor” mentor.
The three finalists will do competing “X Factor” performances for the last time on December 19. Viewers vote for the finalists that night. The Season 2 winner, based on who got the most votes, will be announced on December 20. The winner gets $5 million, a record deal with Sony Music and a Pepsi-sponsored music video that will premiere during the CBS telecast of the 2013 Grammy Awards.
Reid had been a judge on “The X Factor” U.S. since its debut in 2011. As previously reported, representatives for the show were suspiciously silent about Reid’s announcement that he was quitting the show, and officials from the show would not confirm or deny Reid’s departure. There had also been no acknowledgement of his exit on the show’s official website, Twitter account or Facebook page. Cowell, who is an executive producer of “The X Factor,” also had not commented on Twitter or through his publicists.
According to several sources who were at the press conference, nothing new was revealed except who would be performing the duets in the finale. Cowell did most of the talking at the press conference, and he finally commented on Reid’s impending “X Factor” departure: “On a personal level, I’m going to miss L.A. Reid. On a business level, I’m also going to miss him because he’s a brilliant record maker.”
Lovato said, “I’m going to miss L.A.” Spears chimed in, “I’m going to miss L.A. too.”
Reid has already suggested that his “X Factor” replacement should be rocker Jon Bon Jovi, but so far there is no indication that Bon Jovi is interested in the job, and Bon Jovi hasn’t publicly commented. At the press conference, Cowell would only say about Reid’s future replacement and any other changes: “Anything could happen, right?”
Cowell has been a judge on “The X Factor” U.S. since its debut in 2011, and it’s been confirmed that he will continue to be a judge on the show in 2013, since officials at “The X Factor” U.K. have announced that Cowell will not be returning to the U.K. show’s judging panel in 2013. Lovato and Spears joined “The X Factor” U.S. in May 2012, as replacements for fired judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul. (In 2012, Scherzinger became a judge on “The X Factor” U.K., where she mentored the show’s 2012 winner, James Arthur. Because of her success on the U.K. show, Scherzinger is expected to remain a judge on “The X Factor” U.K. in 2013.)
It’s also been rumored that Spears, Lovato and Kardashian will not be returning to “The X Factor” U.S. in 2013, but any official announcement about other changes to the show’s lineup of judges and hosts will made in 2013. For now, representatives for the show have declined to comment.
Cowell said at the press conference: “Let’s see what happens next year. I don’t sit here plotting next year. It’s a committee decision. Everybody has a say. I think the panel have done really well this year …
“Right now, it’s much more important that I spend my time and focus on the contestants we’ve got sitting on the table, because they need this. This is a fantastic break for all of them. And that’s going to be my priority, and once we get past the next couple of days, then we’ll think about next year after a very long holiday in the Caribbean.”
Ratings for “The X Factor” U.S. in 2011 averaged 12 million U.S. viewers per episode, according to Nielsen Media Reserach. In 2012, the average ratings for the show dropped to 8 million U.S. viewers per episode.
Cowell blamed the decrease in the show’s ratings on too many other TV talent shows competing with each other for viewers: “We were expecting that there was going to be a problem with the ratings this year, not just with us, but with everything, because it’s overkill. There are way, way too many talent shows on. Once ‘The Voice’ decided to go Monday/Tuesday and we were Wednesday/Thursday … I used the expression: ‘It’s like having 14 sugars in your coffee when you want two.’
“I’ve done this for 10 years. We’ve had dips over the years. We’ve come back the following years when other shows have died off, we’ve gotten stronger. Because the one thing that’s most important is the legacy you leave behind each year. And the legacy we’re going to leave behind with the talent, not just with these three [finalists] but also with our artists like Emblem3. That’s what you’re judged on.”
It’s quite a different story that Cowell is spinning, because before Season 2, he bragged that Spears would help “The X Factor” beat “The Voice” in the ratings. Just the opposite ended up happening, as the show’s ratings went on a downward spiral that went even lower after numerous viewers complained about Kardashian co-hosting the show.
And, of course, Cowell didn’t mention how 2011’s “X Factor” U.S. contestants Melanie Amaro, Rachel Crow and Marcus Canty, who’ve released music on Sony in 2012, have been huge sales flops. Chris Rene and Josh Krajcik are also signed to Sony and have had modest chart placings in the U.S., but they aren’t even close to getting gold certification for their music.
Some the show’s contestants from 2012 will also be signed to Sony Music, and it remains to be seen how well they’ll do on the charts after they’re signed to Sony, but none of them are charting on iTunes for their “X Factor” performances. By contrast, several contestants on “The Voice” U.S. have Top 10 hits on iTunes and Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with their performances on “The Voice.”
Meanwhile, it was announced at the press conference which duets will take place on the show’s Season 2 finale: Lovato will sing with Fifth Harmony; Stevens will team up with Little Big Town; and Sonenclar will be paired with LeAnn Rimes.
In “The X Factor” U.S. episode that was televised on December 5, 2012, Fifth Harmony performed Lovato’s hit “Give Your Heart a Break,” and Lovato said that Fifth Harmony’s version was better than her version. At the press conference, Lovato commented on the possibility that she might record a song with Fifth Harmony: “I’m always open to collaborations. I’m never close-minded. I think that to show these girls to say thank you to them for things they’ve done for me, I’d love to help them out in any way. I would collaborate literally with any contestant on the panel right now.”
Other previously announced performers in the season finale are One Direction and Pitbull.
Here is a transcript of the press conference:
Simon, in 2011, you were the mentor to Melanie Amaro, who was the clear favorite to win when she went into the finals. In 2012, you’re going into the finals with Fifth Harmony, an underdog act. How do you feel about going into the finals with an underdog?
Cowell: It’s a more interesting experience, and it means I’ve got to work that much harder. But then again, I don’t have that pressure. You know, it was a hard-fought semi-final, but I can feel — and I’ve done this a long time — a real momentum building up on these girls [Fifth Harmony]. And if they’re as good as they were in the semi-finals, I don’t look at them now necessarily as the underdogs. I think this is going to be the closest final I’ve ever been involved in. I think anyone can pull it off on the night, and I’m still going to backing my girls to win this.
Do you feel that the final three are the strongest contestants? Do you think these are the right final three who made it into the finale?
Reid: Yes. We feel really good about the three finalists. They’re all really talented. They’ve all worked really, really hard. And none of them are predictable people that are in the finals. When the competition started, it could have gone either way, but because of their hard work and their talent, we’re all proud that these are our three finalists.
Cowell: My main job is running a record label. The challenge this year, which is why we make these shows in America, this one here on my left [he points to Carly Rose Sonenclar], I still don’t believe that she’s human. The girls [in Fifth Harmony] I think are a viable pop group now that can work in the same way as One Direction. And with Tate [Stevens], we’ve found somebody who … why he didn’t get a record deal 20 years ago is ridiculous.
And I like the fact that we as a show can have somebody who’s 13 competing with a 37-year-old. They’re super, super talented. One of the best finals I’ve been involved in.
To the judges, how much will you miss L.A. Reid now that he’s quitting the show? He recommended that Jon Bon Jovi should be the person to replace him. What do you think about that?
Cowell: [He laughs.] He didn’t mention that to me.
Reid: [He laughs.] You knew you’d find that funny.
Cowell: I know. You’re so similar, the two of you.
Lovato: I’m going to miss L.A.
Spears: I’m going to miss L.A. too.
Cowell: You know what? Anything could happen, right?
Reid: That’s the spirit, Simon Cowell!
Cowell: Let’s see what happens.
What changes are you planning for the show in 2013? What are some of the things that you need to analyze?
Cowell: Well, first, look — and I really mean this — I don’t sit here plotting next year. It’s a committee decision. Everybody has a say. I think the panel have done really well this year. On a personal level, I’m going to miss L.A. [Reid]. On a business level, I’m also going to miss him because he’s a brilliant record maker.
But right now, it’s much more important that I spend my time and focus on the contestants we’ve got sitting on the table, because they need this. This is a fantastic break for all of them. And that’s going to be my priority. And once we get past the next couple of days, then we’ll think about next year after a very long holiday in the Caribbean.
Reid: Where in the Caribbean?
Cowell: Not near you.
Simon, how do you feel about the 25 percent decline in ratings that “The X Factor” U.S. has had in 2012, compared to the show’s ratings in 2011?
Cowell: We were expecting that there was going to be a problem with the ratings this year, not just with us, but with everything, because it’s overkill. There are way, way too many talent shows on. Once “The Voice” decided to go Monday/Tuesday and we were Wednesday/Thursday … I used the expression: “It’s like having 14 sugars in your coffee when you want two.”
I’ve done this for 10 years. We’ve had dips over the years. We’ve come back the following years when other shows have died off, we’ve gotten stronger. Because the one thing that’s most important is the legacy you leave behind each year. And the legacy we’re going to leave behind with the talent, not just with these three [finalists] but also with our artists like Emblem3. That’s what you’re judged on.
We’re going into a new world now where Twitter, Facebook, the social media [are] so important. We made a decision this year that we were going to bring in a whole new young audience. And that’s what we succeeded in — and we’ve grown from there.
Simon, how was it working with the five members of Fifth Harmony, since they all have such different voices?
Cowell: Nightmare! Working with a girl band is very different dynamic than working with a boy band. I said it to someone earlier on: In the first half of the relationship, you have to guide them. In the second half of the relationship, they have to guide you. Lauren [Jauregui] chose [Ellie Goulding’s] “Anything Could Happen,” which was a brilliant choice, and I think turned everything around. They’ll always have me supporting them. But I trust their judgment now more than I trust mine.
Britney, has your “X Factor” experience been what you thought it would be?
Spears: It’s been even better for me. The whole experience has just opened me up to different things. There are so many gifted people out there. It’s been a really special experience.
Tate, how do you feel coming this far after being just an ordinary person no one knew?
Stevens: An ordinary person no one knew. Wow. It’s kind of crazy. This is an experience and an opportunity of a lifetime. And really, for me, it’s so surreal and so humbling to be sitting up here with these people.
You look down the table. Fifth Harmony is down there. They’re really, really talented girls in their own right each way. Of course, Carly is really talented also. And Demi, L.A., Britney, Simon — what they’ve done in their careers and what they continue to do, for me, honestly it’s hard to put into words.
It’s very cool. And I know it probably doesn’t say anything, but that’s the best I can come up with right now. But it’s awesome. It’s a very cool experience, and I hope this ride continues for several years.
Carly Rose Sonenclar and Fifth Harmony, how do you feel about being in the finals? And are you doing anything special for the finale?
Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke: I know we’re really excited. It’s such a blessing and honor to be here, because we never thought we could make it this far. It’s just absolutely incredible. We’re really excited.
Sonenclar: I’m really excited also. Just making to the finals — I can’t even believe I just said that. That’s how awesome it is. And song choice? There’s a lot of songs.
Can you talk about any collaborations in the season finale?
Cowell: Demi’s already agreed to do a duet [with Fifth Harmony]. [He says jokingly] And when they make a record, to write three songs and give away any decent material that she gets to the girls [in Fifth Harmony].
Lovato: He answered my question. Thanks. I’m always open to collaborations. I’m never close-minded. I think that to show these girls to say thank you to them for things they’ve done for me, I’d love to help them out in any way. They’re just down-to-earth girls. I would collaborate literally with any contestant on this panel right now.
Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello: I love you so much!
Sonenclar: LeAnn Rimes is going to be singing with me. I’m very excited about that. I think she’s amazing and her voice is really, really special, so I’m psyched.
Stevens: I’m performing with Little Big Town, so that’s going to be exciting. It’ll be a bonfire.
Britney, you were a teen pop star, and now you’re mentoring 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar. What was the best advice that you got as a teen that you handed down to Carly?
Spears: Actually, she reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger. She’s very shy. I wouldn’t have to give her much advice. I feel like she’s very humble girl, which is really surprising, considering how gifted she is. I’m really proud to be a part of her life.
Carly, who’s your celebrity crush?
Sonenclar: Hey, Camila, do you want to do this with me?
Cabello: OK, let’s both say it at the same time.
Sonenclar: Harry Styles … and Channing Tatum.
Cabello: Harry Styles. And we’re so excited because they [One Direction] are going to [perform on the season finale], and we’re so excited because we love them!
Cowell: We like to keep everything in the family here.
Simon, if you could have three wishes for “The X Factor,” what would they be?
Cowell: Wish No. 1: The chairs on “The Voice” never turn around because they don’t like anyone. Wish No. 2 is that Fifth Harmony wins. And Wish No. 3: All of these contestants have successful careers going forward.