X marks the spot for Simon Cowell, and his target is Elton John.
John ripped into Cowell's "X Factor" singing talent show -- an absolute hit in Britain that Cowell is taking to America this summer -- back in October, saying that the fact that the singers don't write their own songs, and rocket to instant fame, is a negative for their careers and for music.
"I'm not a fan of talent shows," John said in an interview with Britian's Radio Times. "I probably wouldn't have lasted if I'd gone on one. It's become boring . . . brain crippling. I like Simon Cowell but what he does is TV entertainment."
"There have been some good acts but the only way to sustain a career is to pay your dues in small clubs," he continued. "TV vaults you to superstardom and then you have to back it up, which is hard. Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke [X Factor winners] are at the mercy of the next song they can get."
Well, Cowell finally had an answer for the knighted music legend.
In an interview on "Piers Morgan Tonight" set to air next Monday, Cowell laid into John, his fees, and what he called his selfishness.
"Well, look. This is somebody who charges what -- a million dollars a private gig? Two million dollars, you know? I don't know whether he's concerned about himself... But... they always bleat on that we're not giving other people a chance. And I always want to say to them, 'I tell you what, you just made a million dollars off -- off your last private gig. Go and give it to a bunch of young musicians you care about, put them in the studio. Go and nurture them. Go and spend some time looking after them.' Then I'll buy your argument. They -- they're only worried about themselves."
The "they" Cowell was referring to is any number of critics in Britain who are not enamored of the show, including, according to The Daily Mail, the man who helped create the band Oasis, Alan Magee.
When it comes to helping out young artists, Cowell is certainly putting his money where his mouth is; the show will have a whopping $5 million prize, in addition to a record contract for the winner. The show will also have star singers as judges, though they've yet to be announced. Cowell has said that old "American Idol" partner Paula Abdul is on the shortlist of possibilities.