Music mogul and talent show judge Simon Cowell uses Conchita Wurst’s Eurovision winning performance as an example of what he wants his television shows to look like.
Cowell is most famous for creating and appearing on the ITV franchises The X Factor and Got Talent that have been sold to hundreds of different markets around the world.
The revelation came from this week’s episode of The Euro Trip: The Contest & Me. Professional quizzer and television personality Jenny Ryan was speaking exclusively about her love for Eurovision and her 2019 appearance on The X Factor: Celebrity.
“It’s very interactive how you decide what songs you’re going to perform,” Ryan said.
“I took a list of songs and top of the list was Rise Like a Phoenix. The moment I heard it and the moment I saw Conchita it just absolutely wowed me and it was an unforgettable moment.
“I really wanted to give it a go but they [ITV] told me ‘we think Eurovision songs are too obscure and the ITV audience aren’t really tuned into Eurovision’. I tried to argue the toss with them but they weren’t having it.
“So for the first live show I was rehearsing a Bonnie Tyler song oddly enough and we got to the Wednesday before the live show and at half past eight at night and my phone rang. I got a phone call from Mr Simon [Cowell] saying he heard a rumour going round that I wanted to do Rise Like a Phoenix.
“He said: ‘I don’t understand why they didn’t go for it because every year I have the big pre-production meeting and I show them an example of what I want The X Factor to look like and every year I show them the Conchita Wurst Rise Like a Phoenix performance. I think Eurovision is one of the peak TV entertainment shows of music production…and it’s one of my favourite songs ever. I know the show is one Saturday, and it’s Wednesday night now, but you’re going to change the song and you’re going to do Rise Like a Phoenix.’”
Simon Cowell’s appreciation of the contest hasn’t exactly been a secret. In 2013 he replied to a Twitter user saying he would get involved in finding the UK’s representative “if they would let me”.
Two years later in 2015 Cowell told The Sun he would “love” to help find his country’s representative but wouldn’t want it to compete against another one of his television shows.
Jenny Ryan performed the 2014 Eurovision winning song on the first week of The X Factor: Celebrity and safely qualified to the following week’s show. Three weeks later in the quarter final she performed another Eurovision winner’s song after a suggestion from an unlikely individual.
Ryan said: “A few weeks later a suggestion was passed down to me by Lauren [Silverman], Simon Cowell’s fiancée, who said ‘I love Eurovision. Here’s another song that I think would suit Jenny’.
“It was Euphoria. It had never been performed on ITV before. So I sang that while being flung up and down on a hydraulic platform looking like the Statue of Liberty. It’s one of my favourite moments of my entire life taking part in that [show].”
Ryan reached the final of The X Factor: Celebrity and placed third.
You can listen to The Euro Trip: The Contest & Me on Acast, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.