Louis Walsh tells us about the return of The X Factor 'dream team'

TVBy Daragh Keany
Louis Walsh is back on The X Factor
Louis Walsh is back on The X Factor

Last year’s X Factor will go down as the year that got away from the Simon-Cowell-run juggernaut.

While Louisa Johnson was a worthy winner, the most notable memory of the lacklustre 12th series was the ridiculous addition of some thuggish wannabe called Mason Noise (ultimately eliminated in week 4). 

There was also some silly English DJ chap called Nick Grimshaw sitting in Louis Walsh’s chair too, which had a direct result on the series’ failed ratings. We’re not biased at all! 

Throw in the car-crash presenting from lucky-to-be-empoyed Caroline Flack and the mere fact that two tone-deaf idiots from Ghana (Reggie ’n’ Bollie) finished second, and it is fair to say that the 2015 version of our favourite star-search show did not exactly float our boat. 

So we can all breathe a sigh of relief that normal order is about to be restored.

Mayo man Walsh is back to save the day and he has brought Sharon Osbourne back too. Throw in a dollop of Scherzinger, a smattering of O’Leary and a “whopper audition episode” in Dublin and you have all the hallmarks of the best season yet. 

So, Magazine+ sat down with the music mogul to talk (bitch) about his return and all things X Factor. 

Ireland can lay claim to three finalists through the years (2004’s Tabby Callaghan, 2008’s Eoghan Quigg and one fifth of 2010’s One Direction), but can we ever get over the line and actually win the thing?

“Absolutely 100 per cent we can win it. We have the talent. It just won’t happen this year,” Walsh admits before cringeing as if he shouldn’t have said it. 

“There are a lot of amazing Irish acts that got through this year. At least ten. Some of them may have even won it in previous years, but the overall standard of talent is unreal. 

“We have recorded everything up to the judges’ houses and I can confirm there will be Irish interest in that stage. It’s so competitive already. We know who the favourites are and I believe it won’t be an Irish act. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think I am. I can’t say too much but what I will tell you is that the Girls category is the best.”

So what is it like being back on the show beside good friend Simon Cowell? “It is like I never left to be honest. And I am so glad that Sharon is back too. We get on great. I think this year people are going to see a huge difference in the show. Three returning judges and one returning host. It’s like Simon just handpicked the dream team and put us all in the same room,” the 64-year-old laughs. 

“I know it has its critics but it is a fantastic show. It will run for at least another three years. That’s guaranteed. But I think it can go on longer.”

And what does the former Boyzone and Westlife manager have to say to those who think The Voice is a far more credible show? “Stop. Please. Can you name one hit that The Voice has produced? One single song from any singer who appeared on The Voice? I bet you can’t. And I am including Ireland and The UK in that statement. It is not a star maker like The X Factor.”

But is The X Factor, which kicks off next Saturday night on TV3, cruel? “Yes. But it has to be in order to produce the talent. This business is hard work. If you think you can just waltz on to a show with an amazing voice and then three months later get a recording contract, you are wrong. You have to earn it. You have to fight for it. 

The Kiltimagh man adds: “It can be hard at times but I don’t go home each night emotionally drained. And I never have any 
regrets about sending someone home. If anything, the four judges go home on a complete high every night. We did this year because we 
discovered some incredible talent. 

“And I can’t wait to get them to judges’ houses and then onto live shows to see if the talent can be increased and if there is personality, likeability and ambition to match. That’s what makes a champion. 

“You can survive with a sensational voice and mediocre personality. Likewise you can make it with just a great voice but with an incredible personality – like Michael Bublé or Adele.”

Before we move onto our hilarious and slightly controversial Quickfire round (page 10), Magazine+ just finally wanted to know what Walsh’s biggest gripe with the show was?

“This year one thing has annoyed me more than most, young singers come into the room in front of us and sing the wrong song. Whoever makes these decisions for them – coaches, teachers, parents – are making the wrong choice. 

“If you really want to make an impact on us in a short space of time – why don’t they pick a song that suits their voice? The amount of times someone has walked in and tried to belt out Whitney or Christina. It is infuriating because we have had to send good singers home as a result. :

Tune in to TV3 next weekend for season 13 of The X Factor