The other night on Conan, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger called out Conan O'Brien for gazing deeply into her cleavage while interviewing her on his show. (Watch below.) "He asked me a question, I was answering it – but he wasn’t focusing at all. I just had to remind him to focus," Scherzinger tells Rolling Stone, adding, "He went with it well." The X Factor judge isn't exactly known for her humor, but the subsequent exchange with Conan showed a new side of her.
"I’m just allowing myself to just be me more, coming out of my shell, letting go," she says. "That’s Simon [Cowell]. Being around the prince of darkness has really brought that out in me."
Even though she was a last-minute, mid-premiere replacement for Cheryl Cole, Scherzinger says she's had no trouble fitting in with her fellow judges, finding a particular comrade in Paula Abdul. "Growing up I loved Paula Abdul. She was one of my idols. [Now] she’s taken me under her wing, she’s showing me the ropes and she’s always there for me," Scherzinger says. "I’m just fortunate because I have so much love and adoration for her and as a woman in the industry she’s really taking care of me."
Scherzinger is keenly aware of the opportunity being a judge on Cowell's new show affords her. "Simon believed in me, and I’m grateful to him that he brought me on to be a part of this X-Factor team," she says.
It's a gig she hopes brings even more attention to her music. "I’m definitely more comfortable on stage, and always will be," she says. "But what a platform."
So it's no coincidence that Scherzinger plans to release the U.S. version of her first solo album, Killer Love, before the end of the year. Working primarily with RedOne, best known for his work with Lady Gaga, Scherzinger promises that just as X-Factor will show another side of her, Killer Love isn't just "Dont 'Cha" or "Buttons" all over again. "I want to make music that is bigger than life. I wanted real live music, real instruments," she says. "I wanted the music to be explosive, strong and be pop, of course, but have more rock and more soul influences. Like Michael Jackson's 'Dirty Diana,' but with the energy old-school, like Tina Turner.”
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