'The X Factor' returned Wednesday night with two new superstar judges. It had to compete with 'The Voice' for my attention, which means I missed most of the first of it's two-hour premiere. Joining Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid for the second season are Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. Judging from the flurry of tweets in my timeline, Nicole Scherzinger and Paul Abdul were not missed. Spears and Lovato did bring a new freshness to the show, but it really was the same old, same old.
One of my issues with X Factor is how long it takes to get to the point. With the new Behind The Scenes angle they are going with this season, this is going to annoy me even more. Auditions got underway in Austin, Texas, where we met 21-year old single mom Paige Thomas. Backstage, she gets ready by sharing a mirror with 22-year old delusional Kaci Newton who thinks she is a cross between Adele and Carrie Underwood. Paige, somehow, accidentally stains Kaci's ugly pants and Kaci decides to shade Paige from behind the curtains. While Paige is certainly attractive, her voice wasn't that great but the judges all loved her and L.A. even compared her to Rihanna. When it was finally time for Kaci to take the stage, she flounced and Simon said she sounded like she was dying. I understand that X Factor is trying to create narratives here by making us instantly hate the Kacis in the competition while rooting for the Paiges, but if the singing isn't that good, why does it even matter?
There was also another Bieber clone, (omg is there a factory somewhere?), by the name of Reed Dennings. The little guy was on 13, but had a voice big enough to get him through to the next rounds. I think it had more to do with his charm than anything else.
The biggest standout, if not the most memorable contestant, was Quatrele Da'an who auditioned in a wedding dress. "I'm getting married to X Factor today," he told the judges. Surprisingly, he did a great job with Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" earning a spot in the next round of competition. Simon embraced the "madness" and sent him through .
In San Francisco, three skaters who went by the name Emblem3 kept insisting they weren't a boy band, but oh, they were. They performed an original song and I can't even remember what it sounded like, but it impressed the judges.
One of the more awkward moments came from Don Phillips, who once collaborated with Britney many Oops ago. Spears instantly recognized him when he walked onto the stage, which I found to be a bit weird because he looks totally different than he did when they sang together on her debut album ...Baby One More Time back in 1999. He got through Beyonce's "Halo" but broke down afterwards, telling Britney he thought he would never see her again. He might have been looking for her to take pity on him but she acknowledged that he obviously has been through some stuff but his voice wasn't up to par. Simon added insult to injury by saying that his voice simply was "not good".
Then there was 19-year old Jillian Jensen who felt a connection with Demi because they had the same "Stay Strong" tattoo. Which despite what she said, I didn't think it was much of a coincidence. Jensen waxed poetic about being bullied in school before going into a teary version of Demi's own "Skyscraper." It moved all the judges, even tough as nails Simon, but I was left whelmed by the whole thing. I hope Jillian can pull it together for the competition.
The show closed with the spunky Jennel Garcia who sang Grace Potter & The Nocturnals' "Paris" which was good enough to get her a pass.
So how were Britney and Demi? Not bad actually. I think it's safe to say that Demi is providing the nice, understanding judge role for the panel, while Britney is maybe trying a little too hard to fill the "Queen of Mean" shoes that were thrown at her. I also think it's unnecessary to compare her and Christina Aguilera when they are basically doing the same job on two slightly different shows. I will be tuning into X Factor this season, let's hope the talent is better this year than it was last year.
Written by: Brittani
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