Simon Cowell holding auditions for next hit boyband: ‘Future megastars wanted’

Simon Cowell (L) is hoping to replicate the success of One Direction (R) by holding open auditions for the next big boyband. Steve Granitz / Getty Images & Karwai Tang / Getty Images

Media mogul Simon Cowell is hoping to replicate the success of One Direction by holding auditions for the next hit boyband.

The launch of his campaign was marked with the unveiling of a military-recruitment-style billboard in London with the words: “Simon needs you! Future megastars wanted for new boyband. No time wasters.”

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Before you get too excited, the auditions are only open to UK, EU and US citizens — Cowell must not be aware of the wealth of Canadian pop talent. He’s also looking for teens around the ages of 16 to 18, according to the online sign-up form.

“Every generation deserves a megastar boyband and I don’t think there has been one to have the success of One Direction in over 14 years. The industry tends to focus on solo artists — so it usually takes someone from outside to put a group together,” Cowell wrote in a statement announcing the launch of his boyband project. “Nothing beats the fun of being in a group, touring the world and performing for thousands.”

Auditions will be held this summer in various locations: Newcastle on July 4 and 5, Liverpool on July 7 and 8, Dublin on July 28 and 29 and London on August 1, 2 and 3. A filming crew will also be following Cowell on his megastar search for a “potential documentary series.”

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As part of his pitch to prospective pop stars, Cowell cheekily predicted the eventual dissolution of the boyband, as was the case with One Direction. Joining his project will be a “brilliant launchpad for a solo career,” Cowell said in an apparent nod to former One Direction member Harry Styles.

One Direction quickly became a global sensation after its members, Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson, were brought together on The X Factor UK, a show created by Cowell. While Cowell gets a lot of credit for forming the band, X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger played a large role in assembling the group. Beyond One Direction, Cowell also helped form hit UK girl groups Little Mix and Fifth Harmony.

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UK pop groups in the 2010s were a force to be reckoned with, but in recent years that influence has faded.

Cowell acknowledged that there’s a “high degree of risk” involved in trying to put together a pop band with mass appeal and shared that he has “no idea what’s going to happen.”

“We might uncover an incredible group; we might not get there,” he said. “What if no one shows up to auditions? That could be awkward. There is no guaranteed path to success — anything can happen, but that’s what’s exciting for me, and that’s why I’m doing this.”

In an interview with the PA news agency, Cowell said he’s “praying” to form a band as good as One Direction and decried the “sorry state of affairs” in the current UK pop industry.

“The decline in UK artists breaking internationally right now is shocking,” he said. “You can’t fake this, even though I’m the one going out to do the auditions, it really depends on the individuals. If you find the right people I’m not someone who says dress like this, say this, do this, it is just not my style and I never once did that with One Direction.”

Cowell said he’s going “back to basics” with this search and rejecting the X Factor format.

“The only way to do it is do what I used to do, go out and do it and audition and do it face-to-face and don’t have any pre-casting,” he said. “In other words, don’t have people choose people in advance, it really is first come, first served.”

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People interested in signing up for the auditions can do so on Cowell’s website.

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