Britney Spears made her debut as the latest judge of emerging talent on “The X Factor” on Wednesday night and despite her early suggestions that she’d find it hard to squash people’s hopes, it turned out she was able to turn on the “No” factor.
In fact, after a portion of the show opened with Britney telling her manager, Larry Rudolph, “This is gonna be really hard for me,” she actually shot down some of “The X Factor’s” joke and just plain bad contestants quite easily – so easily in fact, producers turned her barbs into a montage.
“I wanna know who let you on stage,” she told Shawn Armenta, a 50-year-old from Phoenix, Ariz., who performed his own tune – “Candy Girls” – dismally.
To Chad Mosby, a 31-year-old salesman, she quipped, “I think you need to practice a little bit more.”
For Amy Gibson, Britney ripped off the Band-Aid rather quickly with, “I thought it was just kind of bad.”
Student John McCoy, 21, was told of his lapse in vocal talent. “The singing came in and it… wasn’t very nice,” she said.
Shouty deli worker Will Thomas, 18, also found no mercy. “You need a new… teacher, to teach you how to sing,” Britney noted.
For another unnamed contestant, she stated, “I felt like I was listening to Alvin & The Chipmunks,” while still another, she offered the following: “I think you’re like Vanilla Ice meets Lauryn Hill meets ‘West Side Story.’”
AH Nation Poll: What did you think of Britney Spears’ ‘X Factor’ debut? Click HERE to vote.
And youngsters too weren’t safe from Britney’s critiques.
Student Ma’Cayla Miller, 15, who had great trouble on Beyonce’s “Listen,” got let down a little gentler, but with a definitive, “No.”
“I felt like you’re really off key. You’re not really cut out for ‘X Factor,’” she told the crushed youngster.
But not everyone found themselves on Britney’s bad side.
The Justin Bieber-esque Reed Deming, just 13, was overwhelmed when Britney told him – after his audition – “I think you are completely and utterly adorable.”
“Oh, my heart’s gonna burst out of my chest if you’re not careful,” he said, as all four judges said “yes,” to sending the young man on to the next round.
At one moment, Britney was confronted during the auditions with a man from her past – Don Philip – who she sang with on “I Will Still Love You,” a duet on her debut album, “… Baby One More Time.”
Coming out to sing “Hero” for his “X Factor” audition, Britney recognized him (unlike Christina Aguilera’s “The Voice” moment last season with fellow former “Mickey Mouse Club” member Tony Lucca), but she also recognized he had been through a hard time.
After judge Simon Cowell said of his audition, “The problem you have Don, you don’t have a good singing voice,” the performer turned to Britney.
“I feel like, through the years, maybe you’ve gone through a lot of hardships and battles… But your voice really isn’t up to the bar of the standards of ‘The X Factor’ and what we want,” she said.
While it was clearly a night to showcase Britney as the new judge, fellow newcomer to the panel Demi Lovato also showed off a lot of personality – and heart — like when she encouraged a contestant – Jillian Jensen, 19, a woman still deeply scarred by bullying.
“Look, we’re both up here. The bullies that bullied us, they’re watching us at home on TV,” she said before the young woman performed Jessie J’s “Who You Are.”
Hugging her after the performer received a standing ovation, Demi gave her another pep talk and told her how “amazing” the performance was. And yes, the singer went through to the next round.
“The X Factor” continues its Season 2 premiere on Thursday at 8/7c on FOX.
-- Jolie Lash