Rumors have been running rampant about "The X Factor's" possible replacement judges ever since Simon Cowell gave Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger their pink slips back in January. But news that Britney Spears is in the running appears to be more than just gossip. Get ready, y'all: It looks like Britney is about to be Simon's new right-hand girl. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Britney's manager/fiancé Jason Trawick is currently negotiating a contract with the show that may be finalized as early as next week. Deadline further reports that Simon has offered Britney a whopping $10 million paycheck--which is what her former "Mickey Mouse Club" co-star Christina Aguilera will make for Season 3 of "The Voice," and just $2 million less than Jennifer Lopez currently makes on "American Idol"--and The Wrap just reported that Britney supposedly is holding out for DOUBLE that amount, asking for a cool $20 million. (A representative for "The X Factor" declined to comment.)
I have mixed feelings about this development. In some ways, this could be the best thing to happen to "The X Factor" since Lakoda Rayne got voted off. Britney would certainly make for good TV. But would she be a good mentor? That, I'm not so sure. Is Britney really worth $20 million? Or even $10 million? Here are my arguments for and against Britney joining "The X Factor":
THE CASE FOR BRITNEY:
She'd be great television - Britney's short-lived and borderline-unwatchable "Chaotic" reality series with future ex-husband Kevin Federline notwithstanding, this girl lights up the small screen. More than fifteen incredible years into her career, after all her ups and downs, millions of people are still bizarrely fascinated with every single thing Britney says, does, or wears. Those millions of people would therefore likely tune in to Fox this fall to see what she says, does, or wears every week on "The X Factor." I admit I'd be one of those people.
She'd be good with kids - "The X Factor" age limit is much lower than its rival shows "American Idol" and "The Voice," and this resulted in many uncomfortable moments last season, notably the onstage meltdowns of tween contestants Rachel Crow, Drew Ryniewicz, Astro, and those poor kids in InTENsity, all of whom seemed ill-equipped to deal with the pressures of fame. Britney, a performer who grew up in the public eye (see her 1999 interview below)--and was even on the prototype talent-competition show "Star Search" at age 11 and lost--could surely empathize. Since "The X Factor" already has an "over 30's" category, I say add an "under 18's" category and have Britney mentor that group.
She's basically the biggest pop star on the planet - Simon always seems to want to outdo shows like "Idol" and "The Voice" on every level, and hiring Britney would certainly help push his bigger-and-better agenda. (A lack of A-list star power on "The X Factor's" Season 1 panel was reportedly one of the reasons why Paula and Nicole were let go.) Britney may not sell albums like she used to (Femme Fatale failed to reach platinum status), but she still sells tons of singles, concert tickets, and perfumes, and she's still one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world. So while "Idol" may have J.Lo, "The Voice" may have Xtina, and ABC's upcoming "Duets" may have just snatched up original Idol Kelly Clarkson, having Britney bragging rights would certainly trump all of those shows. Well played, Simon. Well played.
THE CASE AGAINST:
She seems a bit flighty - Okay, that sounds mean. Maybe Britney isn't quite as flaky as she sometimes comes across; I have noticed occasional moments of wit and lucidity in some of her interviews. But can she think on her feet on live TV? Can she make a quick decision on elimination nights? Can she critique a contestant without reading off a script? Can she read a script? I have my doubts. It's no wonder that Britney is "undergoing extensive media training," according to THR, to prepare for this new job.
She may not have the right experience - If I'm being honest, if I were an "X Factor" contestant and I found out that I'd been assigned to the category mentored by Britney, I'd probably be worried. I'd want Simon Cowell or L.A. Reid--music executives with years of practical experience--over someone whose every career move since age 11 seems to have been micromanaged by a fleet of stage parents, label execs, and handlers. Unlike some other female pop stars who've always appeared to be in control of their careers, images, and destinies (Madonna, Lady Gaga, Pink), Britney has always seemed like a record-label pawn or puppet, with little creative vision of her own (or at least little freedom to exercise it). So if Britney never really oversaw her own music career, then how could she ever oversee anyone else's? Then again, if she did come up with some cool ideas for her "X Factor" protégés, she'd probably gain some new respect as an artist. We shall see.
She can't really sing - I suppose a lack of multi-octave vocal power never hurt Paula Abdul's ability to judge. But while I was never exactly Nicole Scherzinger's number-one fan, I will at least give her credit for being able to really belt it out. And some of the other women Simon was supposedly once courting to be on "The X Factor" (Mariah Carey, Beyonce, the late Whitney Houston) are/were great singers as well, the type of singers that many reality show contestants look up to. So I'm just saying, if Simon is upping the ante by hiring Britney to replace Paula, then he better start courting, say, Adele to fill Nicole's seat.
She might make the show too much about the judges - One of my biggest gripes about "The Voice" is that its superstar coaches often take away focus from the no-name contestants. With Britney on the panel, "The X Factor" would have the same problem. I mean, if everyone tuned in to watch Britney's latest antics, would any viewers even notice the singers competing on the stage? The folks at Fox probably wouldn't care--ratings are ratings, after all--but as the respective heads of Syco and Epic Records (the labels that sign the "X Factor" finalists), Simon and L.A. should be concerned about the long-term repercussions of having the show's contestants upstaged.
Do you think Britney would be a good "X Factor" judge?
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