Thursday 21 November 2019

X Factor judges: their 7 worst spats

X Factor stress: Louis, Dannii, Cheryl and Simon argue over JLS Photo: ITV
X Factor stress: Louis, Dannii, Cheryl and Simon argue over JLS Photo: ITV

Alice Vincent

As Simon Cowell rules out catfighting for 2015, we reminisce about the best arguments between the X Factor judges

“Back in your cage, Louis”

Conjures a brilliant image, doesn't it? Louis Walsh, in a cage, ferociously championing Jedward, his infamous protégés from X Factor 2009. Unfortunately, this containment was the entirely imaginary product of Gary Barlow's mind, which emerged in 2011 after the Irish judge told Barlow's act, Frankie Cocozza, "You're not a rock star, you never will be a rock star". Kelly Rowland chipped in to tell Walsh not to crush Cocozza's dreams, but the former Westlife manager's prediction came true: four years later, Cocozza is yet to become a rock star.


“You’re the one that needs a reality check”

A return to the classic days of X Factor – look at the staging! – here for an appreciation of Sharon Osbourne, who set the tone for bratty judges before Tulisa had even released her first single. Although watching her drench Simon Cowell, like a more constrained Peggy in the Old Vic, is entertaining, the whole event is improved by Walsh's giddy excitement and the fact the auditionee had taken a Cowell-ordered nap before crooning Ronan Keating.


“What was the last act, Jedward?”

In late summer 2012, Tulisa "The Female Boss" Contostavlos was just about to release her debut solo album and had some chart success with her singles. Evidently, this was something she felt compelled to tell Walsh about when he undermined her ability to recognise a "recording artist" when she was presented with one.


"I want to take it to deadlock!"

After an eternity of fussing, Walsh, emerging from a black polo neck jumper, winds up all of the judges by choosing to let the public decide between novelty act Rylan Clarke and serial TV talent show applicant Carolynne Poole. Barlow, a Rylan dissenter, is the most riled by this, and walks out – but only after he had angrily stood up a few seconds too early, leaving him bobbing up and down behind the judging panel for a while.


“I don’t know what’s offended me more: what you’ve said, or the fag ash breath”

Barlow's rather schoolboy insult to Tulisa made headlines and elicited sympathy for his opponent Contastavlos, who made a fair point that contestant Christopher Maloney's incessant 80s power ballads were getting tedious. Hit-maker Barlow knew exactly what audience he was tackling at home, however, as Maloney went on to win in 2012.


“You haven’t got an answer!”

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, then Cole, took on Louis after he accused her of picking a "silly song" for Katie Waissell, who, as history has shown, had bigger problems, namely becoming a target of public dislike.


"You did nick their song, but it doesn't matter"

A heated discussion that shed light on the intricacies of song selection behind the scenes of the X Factor finals ("We have a rota! We do take it in turns to pick every week!"), and, if the Daily Mail are to be believed, left Dannii Minogue in tears. As for JLS, this was just one step on their journey to post-X Factor fame and fortune.

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