Simon Cowell, Ricky Martin Talk Univision’s Singing Competition ‘La Banda’
By Marc Inocencio
Simon Cowell is responsible for discovering some of the biggest solo artists during his stint as an American Idol judge and forming world-conquering bands including One Direction and Fifth Harmony on The X Factor.
Now, the 55-year-old artist headhunter is partnering with Puerto Rican sensation Ricky Martin to put together the ultimate Latino boy band for Univision’s upcoming reality competition La Banda.
“The idea is quite simple: We are going to put together a group of guys between 14 to 18,” Simon and Ricky told On Air with Ryan Seacrest over the phone on Friday. “It’s a Latin show, it’s a Spanish-speaking show, they’ll sing in Spanish and English.”
In an effort to bridge the marketing gap for an all-male Latin supergroup, Simon and his media company, Syco Entertainment, devised a show where contestants from across the U.S., Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico will compete to be in a five-person group.
Auditions, which begin on March 7 in Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, Houston, Chicago, New York City, and Miami (see all of the dates and locations below), will usher in a new era of interactive reality television.
“This is very interesting: the audience is going to dictate who is going to move forward to the next step,” explained the “Livin La Vida Loca” singer, who signed on to executive produce the show, be a judge, and manage the winning band. “The audience is going to dictate what artist is going to go and meet us — the judges. So that is something that has never happened in a reality show. The power of the masses, the power of the fans, they are going to say who [is] going to be in the show.”
While the hunt for the rest of the judging panel continues, Ricky has already set the criteria and expectations that he and the judges will look for in a contestant.
“We will look for specific things,” said the “She Bangs” singer, who kickstarted his career at the age of 12 with boy band Menudo. “The charisma, obviously the talent, the passion towards music — towards Latin music. To be completely honest, I don’t think I’m obsessively focused on Latino boys. There’s various boys from the U.S. — Anglos — that is interesting and [has] Latin sound … Just feel the music, and show me the passion, and talent for music.”
Also during the interview, Simon reminisced about the formation of One Direction on The X Factor in 2010. According to the Brit, he saw unmatched potential in each individual artist, so he decided to unite them as one powerhouse boy band.
“I didn’t plan to put the group together to be honest,” he revealed. “It was something that happened in the moment. They were just too good, these guys, to let go. So we put them in a band and left them to their own devices. They kind of worked it out themselves.”
And when it came to selecting Ricky to spearhead La Banda, Simon said, “To be honest, I don’t think I would have done the show without Ricky’s involvement because Ricky’s been in a band like this. He’s got a really incredibly successful solo career. So he knows exactly what it’s like to be in a band, to come out of a band, he knows how chemistry work.
On top of his jam-packed dish of duties on the the singing competition, Ricky will take his Latin chart-topping album A Quien Quiera Escuchar on his One World Tour.
“We start in New Zealand in May,” he said. “Then we do Australia, Asia, [and] hopefully we’ll spend the summer in Europe. And then September, I start my U.S. tour and already 20 dates have been locked. I’m really excited.”
La Banda premieres in September on Univision. For more information on the upcoming auditions, head over to the LaBandaOfficial.com.