X Factor 2011: Judges Q & A

X Factor’s new judging panel: Tulisa, Kelly Rowland, Gary Barlow and Louis Walsh – well, mostly new – gave a Q&A after the preview screening of X Factor’s Saturday launch.

The audience were selected from over 200,000 applicants, so as you can imagine, they were fairly fanatical once they arrived. Here’s what they had to say.

Who is your favourite X Factor act of all time?

Tulisa: I want to say JLS because they were the first successful group, but then you have to give it to Leona Lewis…

Kelly: For me I would definitely say Leona Lewis, I love how she’s been able to just completely showcase British talent all over the world.

Dermot: Kelly have you been cramming? Since you got the gig you’ve been cramming, right?

Kelly: Well no, you have to remember that I always loved the show but then when Leona stepped on the scene it was different.

Gary: Leona for me, definitely. But I must say, I liked Matt from last year.

How did you find it with the crowd behind you?

Gary: I think it helps us in some way to see things we don’t see. We always say the audience is the fifth judge. But then sometimes we say, “Do you know what? Everybody stop booing please.â€? But, no, it’s good. The crowd reaction is obviously important because we’re viewing people and thinking, “how is an audience going to respond to this?â€? and the crowd really helps because they’re showing us how they respond, so it is important.

I wanted to ask Kelly, did you pay for the guy [featured on Saturday’s episode] to get the tattoo on his bum?

Kelly: No, ‘cos he’d have to pay me back.

Dermot: But she can confirm that she wasn’t number eight.

Gary, do you think you’re a better judge than Simon was?

Gary: Of course [jokes]. I mean listen, Simon is the master of this, so we’re all listening to what he’s telling us, and it’s going to be a tough role to fill, but we’re trying, we’re trying.

Which category would you each prefer to have this year?

Tulisa: I’ve got the producers over there giving me the eye saying “don’t, say, anything!â€? Erm, we can’t say too much, all I will say is there’s two in particular that I really, really like. But do you know, I’m not sure the producers, yes, Sid and Ben, if they’re gonna stitch me up or not. I mean you could get something that you really want to mentor, or just for fun, they might give you the opera singer.

Kelly: But you know, I think that the talent that we’ve seen throughout the cities has been phenomenal, and it makes it hard, because now we’re narrowing things down a bit and, when you look at the olders and you look at the guys and you look at that ladies and then the groups… it’s like really? It’s coming this year.

Dermot: You meet so many people coming on.

Kelly: Yeah, but they’re all talented, the talent is so big. It’s amazing.

Do you think it’s harder to get to the top now, or do you think it was harder back when you all started?

Tulisa: I think there’s more opportunity, but there’s also more talent, so that makes it just as hard.

Kelly: But I think it’s also about hard work, it’s about how hard someone wants to work in-order to get a ticket to the top. Because when you get to the top, if you want to stay at the top, it’s always going to be hard.

Gary: It’s always been hard and it always will be.

I wanted to speak to the new judges; I just wanted to find out: do you think that a group will ever win the X Factor?

Tulisa: It really does depend on the voters, on the group… I mean it’s a tough one, a lot of the groups that have been on the past X Factors have all been young, so they appeal to a young audience. It would be good this year to find something different. A group that appeals to all ages, I think that’s the issue, to get every single vote you need that act that just branches out to everyone. But I think it’s possible, definitely.

Dermot: Louis, we’ve been so close in the past haven’t we, with people that came second, JLS…

Louis: Yeah, I mean, One Direction didn’t win last year and they’ve had a massive career. JLS, you know, G4; there’s always good groups, I think our groups this year are gonna be better than ever. I think a group could win this year.

Dermot: Do you?

Louis: I do, yeah.

I’d just like to ask Gary, with your clean-cut image and everything, how you feel about being dubbed “Mr Nastyâ€??

Gary: It’s an interesting one, because obviously I’m very serious about music, so when someone walks onstage… I’m a big supporter of new talent, and I just want to be honest with them. I’m almost giving them a disservice by saying something that isn’t true, so I’m trying to be honest with them. At that point it’s how you perceive it: is it harsh? Is it cruel? I’m just being honest.

I wanted to ask Tulisa, what has been your best part of being on the judging panel?

Tulisa: I think everything from the experience and chance is a big blessing for me. But the best part of actual filming was boot camp, which we’ve just started, because we’re finally getting down to the nitty gritty, and we’re actually finding out about the contestants, finding out more about them, what they’re like, and who really has the potential to win. So now I’m excited. Before I think, the first day, I felt like I was being judged by the nation, rather than being a judge, and now I feel like I’m an X Factor judge.

What’s been your highlight of being in the series so far?

Gary: A highlight is when someone great walks on stage, and we’ve had a lot of that. But sometimes we sit, two or three hours go by and we’ve seen pure rubbish coming on, and all of a sudden, bang! A light comes through and that’s amazing, it’s an amazing feeling and we’re excited about it.

I just wanted to ask Tulisa, Why didn’t you smash him [George from Saturday’s episode] straight in the face?

Tulisa: Well, if it was ten years ago I would’ve, but I’m an X Factor judge now and I’m not allowed to.

How difficult is it or how easy is it to hold it down (strong emphasis on down) when you have someone like George that comes up with that kind of an attitude? And that’s to my friend Kelly, how do you hold it down Kelly? Tell me.

Kelly: How do you hold it down? You completely try to keep your cool and remember that you have to be professional and that you’re an example, and not to act like a fool, because that [George] was foolery, obviously. Foolery means you’re acting like a fool [laughs]. But just don’t fall into that, it’s ridiculous, nobody wants to act like him. How would it look if she’d have do the same thing he did? She’s [Tulisa’s] much bigger, in a better position, in a bigger position and she’s blessed. So why would she go on and do that? So Tulisa, I give here so much kudos, ‘cos where I’m from, we fight.

Dermot: Texas style…

Mr Barlow, I just like to encourage you to be as stern as you are, because the way you looked at the judging panel [after Goldie’s performance on Saturday’s episode] … I feel you. I don’t want you to get swayed by any, any of the sort of… I don’t want you to get soft. Continue as you are.

Gary: the trick is to not spend too much time with Louis.

Louis: But hey, Goldie was fun. Did everybody like Goldie here? [Muted cheers]

Kelly: the thing is we’re here to find entertainers as well as singers, and did she entertain you?

Gary: No.

Kelly: If he asked a question about Goldie then obviously she was memorable, and entertaining…

This is to Kelly Rowland, I want to know what you think about Derry Mensa?

Kelly: I’m sorry?

Derry Mensa, he’s in boot camp right now.

Kelly: Derry? Yeah, Derry is adorable, Derry is… cheeky, as you guys say? We like Derry, we definitely love Derry.

My question is to Kelly.  What’s it like being able to balance recording your album and bringing it out, because I know your album just came out and it’s amazing, by the way. What’s it like balancing being on X Factor and promoting your album and stuff?

Dermot: Did you bring her?

Kelly: No, no Dermot, come on. It’s been interesting balancing, but it has been inspiring. The contestants inspire you to be a better as an artist, you see yourself in the position they were in, and just trying out, and the different challenges that we’re giving them and it’s so exciting. I mean I love music, but it just takes it up like a million infinite notches, it’s crazy. I love it.