american idol

The Genius of Simon Cowell: Insulting Similes

There are many things we’ll miss about Simon Cowell, who will say farewell to American Idol tonight. There’s his endearing perma-sneer, and his oddly square hairdo, which grew more right-angular with every year. But most important, we’ll miss how he was the voice of tough-love sanity in a world of dawgs, divas, and that old loony toon, Paula Abdul. When the other judges cowed to sentimentality, cooing over a singer’s sad backstory (which was usually wielded in lieu of talent), Cowell brought everyone back to the notion that this was a singing competition. And, appropriately enough, he did it lyrically, with finely crafted insults that would make an English major proud. His favorite critical construct? The simile. And so, as a parting tribute, we’ve compiled a list of our favorites, broken down by category.


“You actually sing like a train going off the rails.”

“It was a bit like watching a ship sink, that audition.”

Impaired Celebrities

“That sounded like Stevie Wonder with a really bad cold.”

“You sounded like Dolly Parton on helium.”

“You sounded like Cher after she’s been to the dentist.”

“You look like the Incredible Hulk’s wife.”

“Just what we needed — Sylvester Stallone’s younger sister singing Paula Abdul.”

“You sing like a 3-year-old girl dressed like LaToya Jackson.”


“It was a bit like ordering a hamburger and only getting the bun.”


“You sound like a cat in a vacuum cleaner. Dreadful.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you remind me of a pet poodle I used to have.”

“It was a little bit like a Chihuahua trying to be a tiger.”

Boring Inanimate Objects

“You have the personality of a handle.”

“You walked in like a cocktail stick and then sang as if you’d sat on a cat. That was the audition.” (Cross-reference with “Animals”)

“You’re dressed as a guitar but also look like an insect singing country Western music.” (Cross-reference with “Animals”)

Experiences Humans Dread

“It sounded like you’d gone to the dentist ten minutes ago.”

“It was almost like you were giving birth there at the end.”

The Genius of Simon Cowell: Insulting Similes