Cowell is “more optimistic” about Idol 7 contestants, although auditions were “torture”

Simon Cowell talked to reporters today, pimping next week’s debut of American Idol 7. While he says that the auditions were “torture” for him and the other judges, he says he’s “more optimistic” about this year’s group of people

First, according to a Los Angeles Times transcript of the call, he said that the auditions weren’t promising. “I think we all find the auditions harder and harder as the seasons go on because it’s torture. And it gets on your nerves and therefore you can become a bit argumentative and emotional,” Simon said. One of the bad signers was Fantasia Barrino’s brother, who Simon says “was terrible. Dreadful. He can’t sing. I think I’m right in saying this, from memory, he was terrible. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, great, Fantasia’s brother is coming in’ and it was all fantastic until he started singing.”

But Cowell went on to praise the talent this season. “I think personally it’s one of the strongest years we’ve had in a long, long time. It’s younger. I think the talent is more current. They’re more interesting people. So I go into this season a lot more optimistic than I went in certainly last year,” he said. “I mean, Paula and Randy went on the record last year saying the bar has been raised and all that nonsense and it’s going to be one of the best years. I didn’t go along with that. I didn’t believe it. But I will go on record this year saying it’s one of the strongest lineups we’ve had.”

Simon adds that “three or four of the contestants we’ve got this year all would get recording contracts without ‘Idol.’ I think they’re that good. It feels more fresh than I’ve seen before and definitely more memorable.”

As to the series itself, its star admits that it has a short shelf life, and says it may have already expired. “Nothing is gonna last forever. I think the exit date will be determined by the public, who eventually are going to get sick to death of you if they haven’t already.”

He also clarified earlier comments that he’ll leave after 10 years or three more seasons. He says that American Idol 9 will be his last season. “I always in my mind thought I’d go up until the end of my contract, which would be two more seasons after this one. Nine years is probably enough to inflict on anyone,” he said.

Sir Simon speaks [Los Angeles Times]