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Simon Cowell was known as the harsh judge on American Idol before he formed his own media company, Syco Entertainment, in 2004 and created The X Factor franchise. Working on the competition shows in both the U.S. and the U.K., Cowell helped kickstart the careers of many notable performers, from One Direction to Fifth Harmony. However, it seems not all alumni of the franchise have such great things to say about Cowell and Syco. Now, one British duo, known as Jedward, is going after Cowell on Twitter, causing a bit of controversy. Read on to find out what has gone down with Cowell and the former X Factor pair, and for another recent controversy, check out This Is Why Tom Hanks' Son Is Getting So Much Backlash Right Now.
Jedward took to Twitter to call out Simon Cowell and his entertainment company for treating artists "slaves."
Jedward—a duo made up of identical twins John and Edward Grimes—took to Twitter on April 5 to call out Cowell and his entertainment company, Syco. The pop stars, who completed on The X Factor U.K. in 2009, tweeted about their experience on the show, alleging that artists were mishandled and mistreated. "The biggest regret in life was not telling the judges on X Factor to f*** off," the pair first tweeted on April 5. "Every contestant on The X Factor was a slave to the show and got paid zero while they made millions!" they continued.
The pair also directly called out Cowell, saying, "Simon Cowell thinks he's the Mafia leader of the music industry when in reality he's nothing but a bad facelift."
Jedward also alleged that artists on the show and under Cowell's record label, Syco Music, are unable to speak freely and are blacklisted when they do, are isolated from their families, and are watched and reported on by security. They also claim that judges on The X Factor did not actually mentor the contestants as the show made it appear.
Best Life has reached out to a representative for Cowell, Syco, and The X Factor for a comment, but has not yet heard back.
And for more famous fights between celebrities, check out The Most Dramatic Feuds in Hollywood History.
Jedward competed on the sixth season of The X Factor U.K.
Jedward appeared on the sixth season of The X Factor U.K. more than a decade ago. The duo placed sixth in the competition and then were signed by Modest! Management, a management company that worked hand-in-hand with Syco and Cowell until 2018. However, the duo has since split from Modest! Management as well.
Jedward also came after Cowell in the summer of 2020, accusing him and Syco Music of removing their first single from streaming platforms and deleting the subsequent music video.
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More X Factor alumni have also spoken out against Syco and the music industry at large.
Fifth Harmony, who competed on the American version of The X Factor in 2012, was also managed by Syco. After Jedwards's tweets, "Justice for Fifth Harmony" began trending on Twitter on April 6. According to Newsweek, a tape featuring group member Lauren Jauregui complaining about the label to another member, Ally Brooke, leaked in 2016, alleging similar sentiments to those shared by Jedward. "They are making decisions on a regular basis to f*** us over, to make us literal slaves, like literally slaves, Ally," Jauregui reportedly said in the leaked recording.
"They sell you this present of rainbows and butterflies, and as a 16-year-old that's what I bought. It's why I did X Factor and why I ended up in a group," Jauregui told Billboard that same year, alleging that the industry led to "awful mental health situations" and "pain on a lot of levels."
Additionally, Rebecca Ferguson, a soul singer signed with Syco and runner-up of The X Factor U.K. Season 7, tweeted a statement on April 5, stating that she would meet with British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Oliver Dowden in April to "debate musician's welfare and treatment."
"People have warned me for years about doing this or have encouraged me not to speak out, and unfortunately, I realize that my career may be once again affected by speaking out. However enough is enough and musicians/artists/creatives need change… We need an immediate inquiring to take place to change the way people are allowed to operate in this industry," Ferguson said in her statement.
And for more acts that started on the small screen, here are 20 Super Successful Musicians Who Got Their Start on Reality Shows.
Jedward claims some of the most famous X Factor alumni can't speak out because of NDAs.
Major acts have come out of The X Factor series, including British groups One Direction, who placed third on the competition show in 2010, and Little Mix, who won in 2011. Both groups went on to sign with Syco Music, however, neither group is currently releasing music with the label. One Direction has been on an indefinite hiatus since 2016 and Little Mix started releasing music under a new record label, RCA, in 2020.
"There's a reason Syco is called Psycho! 1D and Little Mix are legally f***** in contracts and can never speak out so we are," Jedward tweeted, noting "non-disclosure agreements [NDAs] are very prevalent in the music industry! Resulting in no one talking about the abuse/stuff that happens!"
They further added that management for these groups were "dictating their every move, from relationships to how they live their own lives."
And for more bands who have yet to come back from their "breaks," check out These Are The Bands That Went on a "Hiatus" But Have Yet To Come Back.