Like "Eastenders," beans on toast and half the bands featured in the NME, Cheryl Cole is one of those phenoms that achieve mega-stardom in the United Kingdom, but barely register in the U.S.. Their appeal, much like the dollar-to-pound conversion rate, is lost on Americans. For Cole, that could all change come 2011 though, because the singer has reportedly (and when we say "reportedly," we mean that in the most loosest way possible given the source) signed a three-year deal to join Simon Cowell as a judge on the Americanized version of U.K.'s popular reality singing competition "The X Factor."
Cole, of course, is already a judge on the British "X Factor," the show that discovered Leona Lewis and had a run of four straight U.K. Christmas Number One singles until the Brits revolted and made Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name" last year's best seller. Cheryl Cole is like Madonna multiplied by Beyoncé over in the U.K., even if we Americans aren't that familiar with her, so here's a quick primer: Cole was essentially the Posh Spice of Girls Aloud, one of the biggest girl groups in the U.K. that didn't make it across the Atlantic. She married a famous soccer player named Ashley Cole (the English Premier League is their equivalent of the NFL), divorced that soccer player, launched a chart-topping solo career (also didn't make a dent here), became the Paula Abdul to Cowell's Cowell on "X Factor," and is now a tabloid mainstay on the level of Kim Kardashian. It seems inevitable that, if the rumor of her coming to the U.S. "X Factor" is true, she'll become a household name here.
Cole's recruitment would be the opening salvo in what will likely become a much-ballyhooed ratings rivalry between two TV shows on the same network. That's exactly what we see happening in the next year as Fox's long-running and completely overhauled "American Idol" will find itself matched up against former judge Simon Cowell's U.S. version of "The X Factor."
We thought maybe these two shows would happily co-exist (they're airing during different seasons) and live in ratings bliss on Fox, but Cowell apparently still harbors some ill will toward his old stomping ground, or at least with the one of the judges "Idol" got to replace him. Last week, when asked by TMZ which of the new "Idol" judges would carry Cowell's torch as "the mean one," Cowell responded, "It's a cross between Randy [Jackson] and Mariah." A few seconds later, Cowell realized that Mariah Carey isn't actually a judge on "Idol," and that he meant to say Jennifer Lopez. Cowell earlier mistook Randy Jackson (his judging co-star) for Randy Jackson (Michael Jackson's brother), so it's unclear whether Cowell was truly stumped or just taking a jab at J. Lo. Either or, "X Factor" versus "American Idol," or at least Cole versus Lopez, is shaping up to be the best reality-TV rivalry since LC and Heidi.
[Photo: Dominique Charriau/WireImage.com]
- Cheryl Cole
- Simon Cowell