The X Factor returned for a second season on Wednesday night on Fox as judges Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Britney Spears, and Demi Lovato sized up new contestants in Austin and San Francisco.
Although the audition process is normally a fun showcase of potential greatness, the wild and weird, and downright awful, the Season 2 premiere of The X Factor was as much about the debut of Britney Spears as it was about the singers. Spears was much more candidly cutthroat than anyone could have guessed but she did her job and did it well.
Unlike last season with Steve Jones as the emcee of festivities, the show’s new documentary-style format was a surprise (since a host hasn’t been hired). Still, despite the lack of host, the 2-hour X Factor premiere felt more authentic than its debut in the U.S. last year given a new blend of auditions and backstage access.
In between singers, The X Factor judges took time to chat and joke with each other. It made for a relatable breath of fresh air. Cowell even teased Demi Lovato about her potential romance with Niall Horan from One Direction. “You leave him alone, he’s pure,” Cowell smirked.
With The X Factor back on the air, here’s a rundown on some of the best and worst moments of last night’s Season 2 premiere:
The Good …
First up on stage was nervous and emotional Texas mom, Paige Thomas, who welled with tears when she spoke about a love for her daughter. Thomas was flawless as she belted out Mary J Blige’s “I’m going Down,” which earned high praise from all the judges. L.A. Reid compared her to Rihanna while Simon called her, “Commercial with a capital C”.
After Thomas, however, a few singers took a left turn mediocre. Some even went so far as to say, “Britney is so mean!”
Sure, music is a business and honesty can be cruel, but who didn’t love watching that?
Next, the group Emblem 3 had the crowd (mostly young girls) on their feet with their hip-hop vibe an original song that won over the judges before Janell Garcia belted out Grace Potter’s “Paris” to raise the bar on the other contestants.
The Bad …
Snarky Barbie girl Kaci Newton finally got her chance to sing in Austin, Texas after waiting backstage with her sister and making a diva-like fuss about other contestants. After garbling her way through the audition, no one was sad to see her go, especially Simon Cowell who called her “annoying.”
In San Francisco, drag queen Quatrele Da’an Smith hit The X Factor stage in a bridal outfit looking like Bjork’s fashion love child for a performance of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. Forget the wild, attention grabbing outfit, it was actually what made Quatrele so memorable, but it was his singing that the judges, except for L.A. Reid, completely overlooked … in a BAD way! For obvious entertainment reasons beyond singing, Quatrele was saved by Simon, Britney, and Demi.
The emotional …
There was no shortage of tears during the season premiere of The X Factor and no more heart-wrenching moment than when singer Don Philip walked on stage and left Britney Spears speechless. In 1999, Philip recorded with Britney on the duet “I Will Still Love You” and it was clear that Spears hadn’t seen Don in over a decade. As Philip began to sing “Halo”, Spears could barely face him as she looked to Simon Cowell for support.
Philip couldn’t deliver on the song and was crushed when the judges, including Britney, sent him home. It’s a moment that just shouldn’t have happened at all.
Next, with her entire family waiting backstage, 19-year old Jillian Jensen gave the performance of her life on Jessie J’s “Who We Are.” Bullied as a teenager, Jillian tried to keep herself together as the crowd cheered her on before Demi Lovato rushed on stage to help her exorcise the demons of her past. Even Simon shed a tear for the first time ever on one of his shows. With four “yes” votes from the judges, the Jensen family rushed onstage to celebrate.
What did you think of The X Factor premiere? Did Britney and Demi do a good job? Was the talent up to snuff?