'X Factor' Premiere Recap: Mean Girls, Meltdowns and Mommies
'X Factor' Recap: L.A. Reid Has a Tantrum; Top 24 Are Revealed (Video)
Welcome to the Britney Spears Show, ladies and gentlemen.
Warning: Spoilers ahead if you have not watched Wednesday’s season premiere of The X Factor .
At least that’s how The X Factor’s second season kicked off Wednesday, showcasing new judges Spears and Demi Lovato. The pop duo join returning judges Simon Cowell (still as biting as ever) and L.A. Reid, who undoubtedly appears to have the best eye for talent.
Following a flashy intro -- showcasing X Factor U.K. alumni Leona Lewis, Cher Lloyd and One Direction, seemingly ignoring season one stars Chris Rene and Melanie Amaro -- auditions got underway in Austin. The show opened strong with 21-year-old Paige Thomas, who, though appearing to be a carbon copy of Rihanna, as noted by Reid, wowed the judges with her powerhouse voice, rock star ensemble and adorable 3-year-old daughter.
“She inspires me,” Thomas said of daughter Jade. Cowell proclaimed the audition one of his favorites of all time.
New to this year’s format is a behind-the-scenes storyline, which aims to showcase the so-called “bitchiness,” according to Cowell, that seems to go on backstage. Audiences not only see the judges banter back and forth between takes, but they also witness 22-year-old contestant Kaci Newton -- a self-proclaimed mix between Carrie Underwood and Adele (she’s not) -- make faces and snide comments about her competition from behind the curtain. Were the comments staged? Skillfully edited? We’ll let you be the judge of that.
Thomas wasn’t the only lookalike to face the judges Wednesday. The spitting image of Justin Bieber was found in 13-year-old Reed Dennings, who barely scraped through to the next round on charm and an adorable, precocious nature. His vocals? Not the strongest.
There also were the obligatory lemons, including Shawn Armenta, 50, singing his own creepy song, titled “Candy Girls.”
“I’m uncomfortable with you even staring at me,” said Spears, while Lovato later admitted at the show’s Hollywood premiere that she had to take a few moments to gather her thoughts after his performance.
One of the surprising hits of the episode was San Francisco contestant Quatrele Da’an, who, donning pink lipstick and a scandalous “Like a Virgin-”-esque getup (“I’m getting married to X Factor today”), surprised the judges with his enthusiastic rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
“Sometimes I have to embrace the madness. Today, I am. I’m gonna say yes,” said Cowell, after comparing Da’an to the offspring of Dracula, Madonna and Bobby Brown.
In one of the more uncomfortable moments of the show, contestant Don Phillip reunited with Spears after recording a duet, “I Will Still Love You,” on her 1999 debut album. An overly emotional Phillip appears to have gone through the ringer (to say the least) during the past decade, and unfortunately, he does not come out on top. After being shot down by all four judges, including an emotional Spears, Phillip could be seen shrieking and crying that he “never meant to hurt Britney.” Awk-ward.
The breakout talent from the show was undoubtedly Jillian Jensen, 19, who bonded with Lovato over bullying issues, close birthdays and matching “stay strong” tattoos. “When you sang, you broke my heart,” Lovato declared after a heart-tugging performance. Closing on an emotional note, the show ended with tears flowing on the judges’ panel, in the audience and onstage.