Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am says Cheryl Cole's stint as an X Factor judge was a "waste of talent".
The Voice coach - who collaborated with the Girls Aloud star on tracks including Heartbreaker and 3 Words - said he was pleased to see his friend concentrating on her chart career again because she has too much musical talent to "just be some TV star".
Cole was a judge on UK X Factor for three years until 2011 when she was invited to be a judge on US X Factor, only to be axed by Simon Cowell after just three weeks.
Will said: "Cheryl is a great artist and a great performer and I think the world needs that. And to see that go away for TV only - it's a waste of talent.
"Music is what got us here. If you're not singing any more or writing songs then you've abandoned your base. Cheryl Cole to me is not Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton.
"They're great people, and tabloids and television - they're cool to a point. But she has a different talent so she can't just be some TV tabloid star."
The 37-year-old music producer admitted he had found it hard to cope with public speculation about his relationship with Cole, 28, when they first began working together and her marriage to Ashley Cole had just ended.
He said: "It was hard. I learned a lot. I learned a lot about myself. I'm glad I went through that, I'm glad she went through that, but it was hard. Just going through all that shenanigans."
But he revealed he and Cole had learned to laugh off the rumours.
Will said: "At first it would bring my emotions down, but now it's got to a point where we giggle and laugh about them. It's just something you learn together. I appreciate our friendship and I think it's strong to the point where when things come up we giggle and laugh about them."