Simon Cowell may have softened in recent years, but he hasn’t changed entirely from his Mr. Nasty persona. The past decade has seen him deliver plenty of insults on shows like The X Factor, American Idol, and Got Talent.
Now that the 2010s have officially come to a close, let’s take a look at some of Simon’s most savage moments on talent shows over the past ten years. The victims have been bad singers, good singers, and even one of his fellow judges.
‘American Idol’ 2010: Simon gets a little dramatic
In Season 9 of American Idol, Simon couldn’t help but poke fun at hopeful Amanda Shectman, who has a background in theater. He called her “such an actress.” When it came time for him to vote yes or no, Simon showed off some dramatic body language while Amanda begged him to accept her. He ended up voting her through.
‘X-Factor’ 2012: “You’re like a mouse trying to be an elephant.”
When 50-year-old Shawn Armenta auditioned for the American X Factor, Simon gave him a colorful critique, saying he’s “like a mouse trying to be an elephant.” He added, “It’s just wrong.” Things got even more heated when Shawn accused fellow judge Demi Lovato of using auto-tune, making Simon laugh.
‘X-Facto’ 2013: “… made of wood.”
The next year on X Factor, Simon had another interesting comparison for hopeful Thomas Weiderspon. “Have you ever got a shirt back from the laundry, where it’s got too much starch in it?” asked Simon. “You know, like you literally can’t put it on, ’cause it’s, like, made of wood? That’s what you were like. You were so stiff.”
‘X-Factor’ 2014: “It was like you’d swallowed a load of people …”
Océane Guyot traveled from France to audition for the UK X Factor with a cover of Mariah Carey’s “Emotions.” After the performance, Simon told her, “It was like you’d swallowed a load of people, and they were all screaming.” He added that it was “unbelievable,” and not in a good way.
‘X Factor’ 2015: “You look like you’re half-dead.”
Before Max Stone even started singing on The X Factor, Simon told him, “You look, if you don’t mind me saying so, like you’re half-dead.” After his performance, the judges praised Max’s singing voice, but Simon said, “I just don’t think people are gonna like you.”
‘AGT’ 2017: “You were successful without being able to dance.”
It’s not just the contestants who get dunked on by Simon. When Mel B was on the AGT judging panel, the pair were pretty vicious to each other. Once, Simon quipped to Mel, “You were successful without being able to dance.” This prompted Mel to throw her drink on him, ice and all.
‘AGT’ 2019: “We throw knives at them.”
Simon wasn’t impressed by Nick and Lindsay’s singing and knife-throwing act this year on AGT. He said it gave him an idea: “When you get bad singers, rather than buzzing them, we throw knives at them.” Nick asked, “What didn’t you like about my voice?” Simon replied simply, “Your voice.”
‘AGT’ 2019: “I couldn’t listen to that screaming any longer.”
Simon got into it with drag queen singing group Stephanie’s Child this past season of AGT. “Drag queens don’t usually sing,” Howie Mandel said, to which Simon added, “For a reason.” He later told them, “I couldn’t listen to that screaming any longer.” The crowd booed him, and Julianne Hough said she was going to kill him.
Will Simon Cowell carry his insults over into the next decade, or will he retire Mr. Nasty for good? Only time will tell.