Every week, 30 million fans tune in to hear what American Idol's Simon Cowell will say next. He has launched careers and crushed dreams. Now it's our turn to judge Simon's opinion—he has handpicked a musical group that he believes is the next big thing, and he is introducing them today. But first, Simon talks about what makes a great pop star—on and off American Idol. Beyond raw talent, he says, "The likeability factor is huge. People have to like you."
Simon and American Idol judge Paula Abdul have made it known how very unlikable they find each other. Simon says that their love/hate relationship stems from Paula's secret crush on him. "She wants me," he insists, "but she can't have me so she hates me."
"You really think that?" Oprah asks in disbelief. "I don't know what is going on, but I really don't think that."
Randy Jackson, the third American Idol judge, jokes about a different theory to explain Simon and Paula's hostility. "Maybe Paula wants me and he's jealous. Did you ever think about that one?"
Simon says that despite their occasional on-camera conflicts, he loves Randy. "You know when you meet somebody and you're very comfortable with them? That's Randy. You'll never see him in a bad mood."
Ryan Seacrest says that outside of the show, Simon can be a lot of fun. "He bought a convertible—and for an ego boost, he'll drive around southern California and tallies how many people recognize him. Simon, let's be honest. It's Oprah. You're jealous of the fact that I am 25 years younger than you."
"You know," Simon responds, "We're actually very lucky, even though we make fun of each other. This show has become for us like the cast of Friends, and we actually are genuinely friends. I was with Ryan and some friends in Mexico. Even Paula's allowed to come out for dinner with us now."
What does Paula think of Simon's "secret crush" hypothesis? "Yeah, Simon," she says. "The cat's out of the bag. I do want you in the worst way. In the worst way. Just as much as I want gout, toe fungus and a triple root canal."
Simon says that the next big thing in music is a quartet called Il Divo. He's handpicked four men from around the globe. "We found, I think," he says, "some of the best undiscovered operatic singers in the world and asked them to make an album which is classical but at the same time popular. And for me, it was the best thing I ever heard."
"Please welcome," Simon announces, "Il Divo!" The four men—Urs from Switzerland, Sebastien from France, David from America and Carlos from Spain—perform a beautiful song from their new CD Il Divo.
"They sound so good and look so good," Oprah cheers! "Bravo!"
Singer Joss Stone is only 17 years old, but her artistry evokes a maturity and resonance that belies her age.
Elton John was blown away by Joss and asked her to perform at his Oscar® party last year. "This is a young white girl from England with a voice as soulful as you'll hear anywhere in the world," he says. "I think Joss Stone is the next big thing because she's so talented and she's a friend."
At this year's Grammy® Awards, Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone rocked the house with a powerful tribute to Janis Joplin. "[Joss] is amazingly talented," Melissa says. "Talented beyond her years, obviously. Gorgeous to look at. And a real sweetheart! Yes, she's soulful like Aretha Franklin. Yes, she's rock and roll and gritty like Janis Joplin. Yes, all of those things. But she truly is Joss Stone. She's the real thing."
Oprah first met Joss when Oprah co-hosted the Nobel Peace Prize Concert 2004 with Joss Stone fan Tom Cruise. Joss performed at the event and Oprah was so blown away, she then promised Joss that she would have her on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Even Simon agrees that Joss rocks. "I love her," he says." And [she's] a very nice person."
Joss Stone performed "You Had Me." Her CDs are Soul Sessions and Mind, Body & Soul. For more information visit www.jossstone.com.