Simon Cowell is proud of his British “X Factor” proteges One Direction, who made history on Wednesday as the first UK group to have their debut album – “Up All Night” – top the U.S. charts.
“We’ve been missing this kind of pop boom for a while and I think this is going to be the beginning of a wave,” Simon told Access Hollywood Live’s Billy Bush and Kit Hoover on Wednesday. “I think this is gonna be a very exciting year for pop music, off the back of what’s happening now, and I think it’s great to see kids get excited about a group again.”
One Direction have become a breakout sensation and the “X Factor” boss said he actually saw the beginning of the wave when he attended auditions for the stateside version of the FOX reality singing competition last year.
“What was fascinating was when I was doing the auditions for ‘X Factor’ last year, there were fans turning up at the audition cities we were at, all over the country, with One Direction banners. [I thought], ‘How do you know about this group?’” Simon recalled. “[I assume they] had seen them on the internet or ‘X Factor’ UK, and they started to build — over a few months — this really solid fan base. The record label did a brilliant job over there, but it was fan support that did this and it was just incredible to watch.”
Simon said the gentlemen that make up One Direction — Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson – who were actually turned into a group (from solo singers) on “The X Factor” UK, have taken their own career by the reigns.
“They are very, very, very [much] a part of what they record, what they look like, their videos,” he said. “They’re smart boys.”
With One Direction off and running, Simon is currently engaged in getting the two new judges for the U.S. version of “The X Factor” locked down, but that panel won’t include Stacy Keibler, who Simon quipped is, “too tall.”
Nor will it fill a vacant judges’ chair with “Glee’s” Darren Criss.
“Darren Criss?” Simon said. “I don’t know who he is.”
“Is he the one in the wheelchair?” Simon asked. “I like him.”
Simon insisted that despite the rumors Britney Spears might be close to signing, the two vacant seats still really are vacant.
“At the moment, all the concentration is on the judging panel. I’ve got to be honest with you, as usual Billy, this is all gonna happen at the last minute. I can feel it,” he said. “There’s so much going on at the moment over there with the show. It’s a lot of work to put in and there’s a new component to the show which is exciting and I’m not going to talk about it yet ‘cause I don’t want to tell the others what I’m doing. So there’s just a lot going on. So I think in terms of order, we’ve got to land the judges, and then, I think you’ve gotta work out the hosts, based on who the judges are gonna be to make sure you get the right chemistry.”
One Direction kicks off their first stateside headlining tour on May 24 in Fairfax, VA.