Why Phil Collins Can't Stand Simon Cowell

They have a few things in common, Phil Collins and Simon Cowell do. They're both Englishmen. They're both prominent figures in the music business, Collins as a performer and Cowell as a record executive and on-air judge. And neither is a stranger to scorn and ridicule in pop culture.

The discourse around Collins has grown kinder in recent years, but his music and personal life were frequently derided at the height of his notoriety — by critics and even some of his fellow musicians. As for Cowell, his acidic public persona made him into "the guy everyone loved to hate," as the Los Angeles Times put it. Cowell has claimed that he only aims to offer constructive criticism to contestants on the various shows he's judged for, but at times he seems to revel in upsetting aspiring singers and his fellow judges. Besides pointed criticisms from within the music industry, Cowell and Collins have both faced lighter jabs from animated series like "South Park" and "The Simpsons."

Criticisms of both men have ranged from disagreements with style to destroying rock or pop music. But having gone through similar hazing in the media doesn't make Collins and Cowell compadres. In fact, Collins is among Cowell's critics in the music industry.

Phil Collins finds Simon Cowell a rude judge

Simon Cowell made a name within the British music industry as a talent scout and executive, but his fame among general audiences came through talent shows such as "Pop Idol" and "American Idol." Some in the music business who've gone after Cowell take more of an issue with the concept of such shows than with any one judge; Elton John dismissed talent shows as unhelpful and refused to be a guest judge on "American Idol." Phil Collins hasn't gone that far. In a 2005 interview with TV Guide, he likened the show and similar programs to older variety shows, which he was a fan of.

In Collins' case, Cowell and his attitude was the black mark on "American Idol." "I've got no time for Simon Cowell," he said. "[He] is just cruel and that's all there is to it." Collins specifically cited a moment on the show when Cowell insulted a woman whose day job was singing on boats. "I'd never go on a boat you were singing on because it would sink," he told her. Collins said that Cowell acted above those he was ostensibly meant to help, which poisoned the whole experience of the show.

When asked by TV Guide if he'd ever go on "American Idol" as a guest judge, Collins demurred. He considered the possibility of offering real encouragement to contestants, but added, "That show is such a format now, it would probably just be banging my head against the wall."