An appropriately bitchy Brit and Demi Lovato join the judging panel for season 2

By Annie Barrett
September 13, 2012 at 08:17 AM EDT
FOX
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Now that I’ve been sing-humming “Toxic” for five hours, it’s probably safe to start the recap.

Welcome, bitches, to Britney’s new castle! Demi Lovato also lives there now, along with her father/brother figure and sex/romance consultant Simon Cowell. A silent hero still sits all the way on the left, working out the kinks of his rusty seated dance moves. Step it up, L.A. Reid! You’ve got a lot of magic to make from now until December.

Wednesday’s X Factor premiere took us to Austin, San Francisco, Providence, and a long and lonely highway across which presumably someone other than axed season 1 host Steve Jones was now in charge of driving the giant X Factor truck. O Stevecrest, where art thou? It barely occurred to me all week to wonder who will be the new X Factor host. Turns out The X Factor doesn’t really care either. (Kevin McHale or Khloe Kardashian are rumored possibilities.)

No complaints about Demi or Britney so far, and I even found myself wondering something completely foreign to me, which was “Is Demi Lovato…delightful?” Can’t quite wrap my head around that one just yet, but I’m digging it. What I like about Britney on this show, besides everything, is her succinctness. She’s brutally honest, never rambles, and — if we’re to believe the carefully edited clip series of some of her best letdowns — often just says “No.” one, two, or three times to get her point across.

And then there are Britney Spears’ X Factor faces.

The smile-through-the-cringe:

The Oops!…:

This!

It’s quite possible that Britney will never need to actually voice her judgements. That’s how succinct she is.

I’m also VERY excited that they’re playing Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” as super tramps like Kaci Newton exit stage right…forever. All in all: a strong start!

NEXT: Only six promising acts so far — let’s breeze through them Paige Thomas, 21, is a hot mom like Britney. “I wanna be like that,” Paige said, “so I’m in love with her, she’s awesome.” It’s good to have goals. At this point I remember Paige’s excessive facial glitter, endlessly intriguing sheer/cutout pants, “accent nails,” and red peep-toe lace-up ankle boots better than her actual performance of “I’m Going Down,” but Simon anointed her “Commercial with a capital C” and isn’t that all that matters? In episode 1, absolutely.

The other reason I’ll remember Paige is because throughout her audition and a few after that, the cameras periodically checked in on these two terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, endlessly entitled blonde bitches — sisters! — who immediately decided they hated Paige because she had an adorable little girl and a run in her stockings. That’s pretty rich coming from someone in a billowing pink pantsuit and oversize pearls… at 22 years old.

One of the blonde bitches kept assuring the other blonde bitch that she had nothing to worry about with convincing, clarifying arguments such as “This is about you. You look better than she does!” Sometimes, when we couldn’t read their glossy, hideously plumped up lips, some artful subtitles clued us in to the gist of their interactions.

My thoughts exactly.

I have never loved Britney Spears more than during her carefully measured facial reaction to Kaci Newton’s “dying and suffering” (according to Simon) rendition of Katy Perry’s “Firework.”

Teen time! We were all supposed to react favorably to 13-year-old Reed Deming because he has a pretty face and Justin Bieber-y hair. I guess he’s visually appealing in that way (EWWW.com), but I just wasn’t feeling his actual vocal on  Bruno Mars “Grenade.” He seemed terrified (which always makes me want to look away from the screen, never to return) and a bit too fake and affected for me. What kid says “Oh my goodness?” while wringing his hands? It was like he was auditioning for the old lady part in his middle school play. He would totally get it.

Whenever someone is under the age of 20, the audition crowd FREAKS OUT and I look down into my lap and sob softly. Oh, X Factor. How I’ve missed these precious check-ins with my own mortality and rapidly decaying exterior. Why is nobody cheering right now?

NEXT: A bride and a boy band A truly delusional, bitter old manchild named Shawn Armenta RUINED cotton candy for me forever and I hate his guts.

Britney, your thoughts?

Well put.

Here comes a bride….not-all dressed in a diaper. Quatrele Da’an Smith, a “really entertaining” drag queen who could barely hold a note on Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” is through to boot camp despite L.A. Reid’s reasonable “no” and Simon Cowell’s deceptively disapproving comment that Quatrele looked like the love child of Madonna, Bobby Brown, and Dracula. Demi liked his blow-up doll lip color, so yeah, he should definitely move on in the competition.

Professor Spears seemed to love him more than anyone.

Emblem3 — don’t call them a boy band! — is a boy band I don’t quite understand, and never will because its three members Drew, Wes, and Keaton are ages 19, 17, and 15 [EXPLOSIVE APPLAUSE]. The greasy-mopped skater boy trio from Huntington Beach (“Yeah!”) hopped around making good use of the stage while performing an original tune, “Sunset Boulevard” — which provided editors with an excellent opportunity to play the Phantom Planet “Californiaaaaaaaaaaaah” song and remind everyone of The O.C. All of this made me realize two things: 1) I need to step it up and accept that Emblem3 is going to happen with a positive attitude, bro, and 2) I’d like to watch Sandy Cohen watch The X Factor. Like, in real time, right next to the show, in a screen that’s just as big as my actual TV. I think it would really help. Trying to stay zen right now. Deep breaths. Yogalates.

Ugh, Don Philip’s audition. Can we just not? I wrote about it here last night. This is the guy who dueted with Britney on “I Will Still Love You” in 1999. He is now an unstable mess with a shot voice and a guilt complex re: Britney and his sexuality. The whole segment was uncomfortable, depressing, and exploitative to the extreme, and for what? A chance for everyone watching to feel miserable and suspect that this guy might seriously harm Britney and/or himself? Wow. Thanks.

Simon had to take a candy break — what the heck were the judges all chomping on, do you think? Skittles? — to console the wounded, who was of course giving another great face amidst the anguish.

NEXT: Are you ready for some Demi Drama? The most promising contestant of the premiere was Janelle Garcia, 18, who hails from a small house in a small town in Massachusetts. She wants to be like Pat Benatar, and Simon wants to lovingly guide her there across the battlefield. I think he’ll do it, too. Janelle loves manhandling her hair a little too much, but her excellent song choice in Grace Potter’s “Paris” (Ooh La La)” made up for that. Hers was the only voice I’ll remember from tonight, because it was so clear and powerful and unexpected — and also unassuming. I like when people perform really well but then still aren’t sure if they were good enough and are genuinely surprised to hear praise. She’s not a stage kid, you know? She’s a normal person who happens to be talented. This heavenly Janelle creatures should go far. She’s cute, she’s a teenager [EXPLOSIVE APPLAUSE], and she can wail. Good to go.

Bullying victim Jillian Jensen‘s segment revolved around the 19-year-old’s tears and built up to a climactic hug between two troubled young women, one of whom was a perfectly composed, ready-for-TV painted doll named Demi Lovato, and one of whom was, I’m pretty sure, Kristen Wiig impersonating a tragic X Factor contestant.

Even Simon cried, so this was all a very big deal. Somewhere in the midst of all the emotion, Jillian croaked out “Who You Are” by Jessie J. I could barely understand a word of it, but I do have a feeling she could surprise people with a rich, layered, controlled vocal on a less emotional day. Will there be one? I have doubts.

“I really felt for her. I did,” Simon insisted as he worked his way through tasting the entire rainbow and also his pen.

Did you love the premiere? Is Britney a revelation or merely adequate? Is it just me or is L.A. Reid totally invisible now? Which tattoos should Britney and Demi get “after the show one day”? Discuss, and I’ll see you for tomorrow’s recap!

Oh honey. You’ll be fine. Have a Pepsi.

Follow @EWAnnieBarrett

Read more:

Ken Tucker on Britney and Demi’s first run

Britney Spears and Don Philip’s duet — listen and weep

Ask Annie anything about ‘The X Factor’ — or whatever! — below. Click on the questions below the player to see her intriguingly terrible video replies.

Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, and Paulina Rubio judge Season 3.
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