'X Factor's' Kelly Rowland: 'This Isn't About the Judges, It's About the Talent'

Kelly Rowland X Factor auditions 2013 P
Ray Mickshaw / FOX

When Tonight Show host Jay Leno asked Simon Cowell to describe fellow X Factor judge Kelly Rowland in one word, he didn’t hesitate to call her “horny.”

One day before the season three premiere of the Fox singing competition, Rowland didn’t exactly disagree with the salty Brit’s assessment.

“Oh, trust me honey -- when it comes to the bodies and the faces, I like to put everything together. You know, 'Under that shirt it looks like there is something there -- can you please show us?' I’m just curious! I just want to see what’s there,” Rowland told The Hollywood Reporter. “Of course, I keep it on the panel and they are on the stage and I keep it very professional, but a girl is curious. Why not? The rest of the world is. So I just want to show the rest of the world what I’m seeing too.”

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In all seriousness, Rowland said that she knows there is a job to do. And if a contestant thinks they can skate by on just their looks, they are in for a rude awakening.

“Simon picked me because I’m smart, and I’m definitely up for the job,” she said. “I actually turned somebody down because they had a wonderful look and they sounded awful. I’m not going to do that to myself and my integrity and I am not going to do that to the rest of the world. It’s more than that…I don’t cut any corners.”

On a conference call with reporters, Rowland didn’t hesitate to name-check who she said has the most talent -- surpassing both season one and two's offerings. Among the artists Rowland believes America will fall in love with is Lillie McLoud (“incredible,” said Rowland,) group act Restless Road, and rumored standout Josh Levi.

Even better: there will be no L.A. Reid-type tantrums over the group categories this season, as each mentor -- including Paulina Rubio and Demi Lovato -- is happy said to be pleased with their assignments.

“The truth is, all of the categories are super strong and I am so happy for all of us because we are all happy with our categories, and we are all very passionate about our categories, too,” said Rowland, who is rumored to be overseeing the [spoiler] category.  “It’s going to be an incredible year. I think America is going to be surprised at how much talent we have in each group.”

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When describing her judging style, Rowland (who famously put together the successful girl group Little Mix on X Factor UK) said she is “firm..but honest.”

“I remember coming up in the music industry and I ran into people who had some harsh things to say, but I grew more from people who were more constructive and gave details about how I could grow,” she said. “I paid more attention to those people and want to apply it to the way that I am a judge. It’s about seeing people grow and become something wonderful.”

As for advice for contestants seeking a career in a reality show setting, Rowland cautions that singers should "make sure they are doing it for the right reasons.”

“Nowadays fame and television makes everything look so glamorous. What I do admire about the contestants on the show is these contestants have a week to be prepared, to be ready for interviews, to be camera ready, to get a makeover, to know songs, placement on the stage and dance steps,” she said.  “That’s a lot. And people are watching you each week. You are pushed a little bit faster to grow. You either rise to the occasion or you fall. Sometimes they fall because they didn’t believe in themselves enough.”

As for Cowell’s newest journey into fatherhood, Rowland is confident that he will be “a pretty cool dad.”

“He has guided so many people into their careers and he’s like a father figure for several groups that he put together and it’s going to be a breeze for him,” she said.

Asked to describe her fellow judges, Rowland said Rubio is “adorable and witty, and so beautiful”; Lovato makes “you fall in love with her immediately..she’s passionate and has such a beautiful heart and I love the way she leaves the contestants with something hopeful they can hold onto”; and Cowell is “very smart, and I trust him.”

“But this isn’t about the judges, this is about talent," she said. "And finding great talent, as well."

Still, she couldn’t help but take one dig at Cowell and his role as the lone male on the panel.

“It is the year of the woman. Women rule and the men are just less there,” she said. “You have Simon looking like a sad puppy dog with three women on the panel. It’s just sad. It’s hilarious, actually.”

Either way, the Destiny’s Child star is ready for the season to get going.

“I’m so excited about my new job,” she gushed.

Twitter: @MicheleAmabile