November 22, 2011 5:07pm PT by Shirley Halperin
'X Factor's' Simon Cowell on Astro: 'If He Hadn’t Sung, I Would Have Kicked Him Off'
The X Factor head judge Simon Cowell says he would have eliminated Top 10 contestant Astro if the 15-year-old refused to sing after landing in the bottom two.
“It was uncomfortable,” says Cowell during an interview aired on the Pepsi Live pre-show. “It’s one thing refusing to dance, it's another to say, ‘I'm just not gonna sing.’ If he hadn’t sung, of course I would've kicked him off. I'm trying to help him.”
Indeed, following Thursday’s elimination show, where Astro’s attitude got the best of him when he landed in the bottom alongside Stacy Francis, Cowell says he called the teen’s mentor L.A. Reid to discuss what had transpired. “I watched it back and [told] L.A., ‘I feel bad about this because it's not just a competition, it’s his life.’ But it had to be said because everyone at home was thinking that and if I had been light on him, it would have been worse. I think it made him aware of how he was coming across.”
The next day, Cowell says he invited L.A., Astro and his stepfather over to his house for tea and a talk. “They came over and spent about an hour with me,” Cowell recounts in the interview. “We spoke and I said, ‘Look, at the end of the day, it happens.’ I knew more about the story and that it wasn’t his decision -- he had people in his ears telling him not to do it.”
That person is apparently Astro’s mom who, for reasons unknown as of yet, encouraged her son to walk away from the situation. Adds Cowell: “As far as I'm concerned, there are no ramifications. I probably would've done the same thing if I was his age, but you gotta apologize, because if you don't, it's gonna still be an issue. And he was very sincere about it; he recognized what he did.”
Cowell insists that he stands by the decision he made to keep Astro.
On Monday, the Hollywood Reporter asked the Top 9 for their thoughts on Astro’s dramatic moment. Said fellow boys team member Chris Rene: “I respect that. Nobody else has done that on the show. And the youngest cat did it, and I got to say I don’t look at him any different, not a bit.”
Josh Krajcik offered his thoughts: “I feel for him, but I think he needs to get some perspective and I think he has. He’s a good kid, he’s focused, and I think he was shocked, he was kind of a deer in the headlights, didn’t know what to do. I think that’s why he had the reaction he did.”