'American Idol': Former Judge Simon Cowell Reveals the Major Reason He Left Series

It might be almost a decade since Simon Cowell first left the judge's panel on the beloved reality competition, American Idol, but the English personality known for his raw and often precise criticism, is finally opening up about why he left the series.

In an interview with Hollywood Life, Cowell told the outlet much of his decision had to do with the age limit on the then-Fox network competition.

"How can you say, 'You can't be a star [because of your age],'" Simon told Hollywood Life. "And I found the word 'Idol' obnoxious to be honest with you. And why isn't a 35-year-old as great as an 18-year-old? I just got to the point where this is not real, which is why I move on [to the United States' version of The X Factor and then finally America's Got Talent]."

The 59-year-old who has moved on with NBC's aforementioned reality series, admits that he still has an appreciation for Idol and its legacy.

"I still like the show, but I was lucky because I went through the purple period with the artists that I am still friends with now," he admits. "And we have remained amazingly good friends, we speak, hangout and talk. So, I had the good years!"

Simon sat on the Idol panel for eight years before turning over the baton to today's fiery and fun panel of judges consisting of Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and icon, Lionel Richie. With the show is still hosted by Ryan Seacrest, the musical series still maintains its original Idol flair, especially when it comes down to all the young musicians in the making.

The sophomore reincarnate season on ABC promises to be "next level" with the judges sharing that while they were proud of the progress made in its first season, there will be a lot more to anticipate.

"I think one of the most important things is that we feel like the talent is really, really next-level stuff," Bryan told ABC News Radio. "And we feel like we have people that walk out, that they're not just walking out and they're just singing, they truly have stories to tell."

Bryan went on to say many of this year's contestants are "true artists."

"And they're so good, they just, even help legitimize our show so much more when we have extremely talented kids on the show," he said.

Richie echoed Bryan's sentiments, promising this season might be the best pool of talent Idol has ever seen.

"If you thought last year had talent, Oh. My. God!" Richie stated. "They came out of the woodwork! I think the kids actually saw the first [season] and realized, okay, we not only give great advice, but on top of that, we're having a lot of fun ... and we're not so scary!"

American Idol airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.


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