John Legend: Simon Cowell "Keeps It Real"


Apr. 8 2008, Published 10:00 a.m. ET

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John Legend may be Mr. Nice Guy in real life, but don’t think he would play the same card if he were an American Idol judge. The Grammy winner admits he’d mostly be like acid-tongued Simon Cowell than sympathetic Paula Abdul.

"He keeps it real!" John tells OK! at the Idol Gives Back taping. “If I were him, I'd probably say some of the same things. I'm very frank in my private judgments about other people's singing. I don't really have a forum like Simon does to say it out loud though. I'd probably say a lot of the things he's saying because I'm a pretty tough critic when it comes to singing."

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However, he has yet to criticize any of this season’s crop of contestants, and that’s because he’s never watched the rating's juggernaut before. Still, that didn’t stop him from participating in the show’s second annual philanthropic special.

“Evidenced by the money they raised last year, they are making a difference and I'm glad to be a part of it,” he says. “It's my mission as a performer to give back, inspire people, educate them as much as I can. I'm glad American Idol is providing that forum for other performers to do that. I think it's a great example for young people to realize that when you have the ability to help somebody you should help them. I think it's a great message that you don't have to be rich to make a difference.”


The 29-year-old performed with Fergie for the show, whom he calls a “great girl.”

“I've known Fergie since before the world knew her or at least this current incarnation of her with the Black Eyed Peas and as Fergie now. I love Fergie. She's a great girl — a lot of fun. We've all toured together and are good friends. When she asked me to write a song for her latest album I said sure and we did."

Another good friend and collaborator of John’s is Jay-Z, who with longtime gal pal Beyonce in New York City on Friday. And what does he think of the union?

"I'm happy for them!" he exclaims. "They're a wonderful couple. Both extremely talented and extremely important to the music industry and to pop culture. I didn't know the wedding was going to happen but it seemed like a reasonable thing to happen at some point!”


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