TV Recaps

'X Factor' Season 2 Premiere Recap: It's Britney Bitch!

Fox’s much hyped Season 2 premiere of The X Factor lived up to my expectations. While it was great to see the slate of hopefuls singing to their hearts content to try and earn a coveted slot in boot camp, the performance of Britney Spears is what had my attention throughout the night. Check out the good, the bad and the ugly from last night’s show.

Fox’s much hyped Season 2 premiere of The X Factor lived up to my expectations. While it was great to see the slate of hopefuls singing to their hearts content to try and earn a coveted slot in boot camp, the performance of Britney Spears is what had my attention throughout the night. Check out the good, the bad and the ugly from last night’s show.

“I’ve been doing this business since I was 8 years old. I think I have a lot to offer in knowing and understanding talent…period.” Britney expressed her excitement and nervousness about having to judge people while talking to manager Larry Rudolph.

It wouldn’t be X Factor (or any singing competition nowadays) without the slickly edited video package, dramatic music and sound effects. Gone is the obnoxious over the top entrance videos for the judges.

The auditions kicked off with a strong performance from single 21-year old single mother Paige Thomas. Earning four yesses from the judges, she earned a pass to the bootcamp round.

Unfortunately for the judges, the next performance wasn’t so great. 50 year old Shawn Armenta made everyone uncomfortable during his original song “Candy Girls.” When criticized for his lack of ability, Armenta fought back, criticizing Demi Lovato for her use of auto-tune. It was Britney who sent the creepy man packing with her sharp criticism, “I wanna know who let you onstage. I’m uncomfortable with you even staring at me.”

If you thought that was harsh, X Factor even put together a nice little montage set to Spears’ “Toxic” showcasing the various quips, zings and drags from the pop star:

“I think you need to practice a little bit more.”

“I thought it was just kind of bad.”

“The singing came in and it wasn’t very nice.”

“You need a new teacher to teach you how to sing.”

“I felt like I was listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

“I think you’re like Vanilla Ice meets Lauren Hill meets Westside Story.”

“Not a great song for you to sing.”

“The song was just in the wrong key.”

“You’re really off key.”

“I don’t think you have that wow factor.”

“I think you’re confused with your direction.”

Highlights

Jennel Garcia hands down was the performance of the night. The young rocker channeled her inner Pat Benatar and Janis Joplin for her rendition of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals’ “Paris.” Garcia seemed to surprise the judges with her raspy, soulful voice. Bringing seductive hair flips, sensual body moments and sultry vocals, Garcia brought the house down. She’s one to look out for.

Paige Thomas rocked the house with her rendition of Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Going Down.” Though a little shaky, it’s clear Thomas has star written all over her. Simon called her “commercial with a capital C,” LA Reid compared her to Rihanna, Demi praised her stage presence and Britney called her “flawless”.

19 year old Drew, 18 year old Wes and 15 year old Keaton make up the group Emblem 3. Prior to their performance, they were clear that just because they’re boys who happen to be in a band, they’re not a boy band.  “We’re really not trying to be like a boy band. We play all our own instruments. We give all our heart and soul into it. We’re not trying to do anything manufactured or anything like that. We wanna be real always. We are not a boy band.”  The group chose to perform an original song, “Sunset Boulevard” and delivered a surprisingly good performance.  With a mixture of rock, flowing rhymes, singing, charisma and confidence, they showed their chemistry and stage presence. Not only did they win the crowd over, they won over the judges too. Britney said they were awesome, LA loved them, Demi flirted a bit and Simon praised them as well.

Contestant Reed Deming, 13, had a good sense of humor throughout his segments. With an innocent face and famous looking hairstyle, Reed was often compared to that of pop star Justin Beiber. Though he was annoyed, the youngster never let it show, laughing along with the crew and other contestants as they commented on his doppelgänger appearance (because all young children with swept bangs look like Beiber now?). Reeds performance of Bruno Mars’ “It Will Rain” was rough. The expression on the judge’s faces signaled they didn’t like what they were hearing. Simon mercifully stopped him before the chorus, encouraging him to shake off the nerves and try harder. For her second performance, he performed another Mars song “Grenade.” Though it was much better than the first, his vocals were still a little shaky (chalk it up to youth). The adorable performer was dubbed a “future pop star” and sent through to the next round.

The Weird/Awful/Disturbing/Awful/OMG What?

Mark Avey, 32, transformed into some weird little monster during his clip.

Charles Spangler, 57, performance could only be summed up best my Simon, “You sang like a dog trying to lay an egg.”

Quatrele Da’Aan Smith – A case of maybe not judging a book by its cover. At first look, one could assume Smith was simply playing a gimmick. Donning a wedding-type outfit, fishnet stockings, bright pink lipstick and long hair, Smith was almost guaranteed to get a no simply from the way he came dressed. But he delivered a surprisingly not bad performance of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” Though LA voted no, he received support from the other three judges and was sent to the next round.  Simon compared him to the offspring of Dracula, Madonna and Bobby Brown (lol).

Vincent Thomas – The know it all dude who was in a boyband in Europe that “could have been bigger than the Backstreet Boys” had a lot of advice to give to the boys of Emblem 3. Maybe he should have spent that time worrying about himself. He gave a rather bland, slightly off-key performance of Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.” Simon summed it up ever so poetically: “You know there used to be boy bands years ago, there’s five of them, and there’s always one that didn’t sing. That’s you.”

The performance of contestant Don Phillip made me extremely sad. I loved his duet with Britney, “I Will Still Love You,” from her debut album. However it’s clear he didn’t take care of his voice properly though the years, and choosing to sing a song clearly out of his vocal range (Beyonce’s “Halo”) was a huge mistake. The judges pitifully looked at Spears during his performance, as if they were looking for a sign of what to do. Simon mercifully stopped the performance and gave it to him straight — he wasn’t going through. A visibly uncomfortable Britney reluctantly told him it was a no for her as well, sending her former duet partner into a mini-breakdown. Britney sympathized with him after he left the stage, causing Simon to praise her for being honest with him.

 Kudos to Britney for actually recognizing someone from her past (unlike The Voice’s Christina Aguilera) and for giving an honest assessment of his awful performance.

Final Comments:

I disagreed with the judge’s decision to put through 19 year old Jillian Jensen. The youngster spoke with bullying and became rather emotional while recounting her experience. Her story stuck an emotional chord with Demi, who encountered similar experiences in her own life. I was rather underwhelmed by her performance of Jessie J’s “Who You Are” (which I’m only familiar with because of Megan Hilty’s amazing performance on NBC’s Smash).

I loved the inside look of the backstage happenings in a docu-reality style format. Looking at the banter between the contestants — the nervous first timers, the overconfident achievers, the oh so helpful one with tons of advice for others — it gave the audience more insight into the backstage dealings of the contestants. I especially enjoyed the snooty southern belles’ judgmental attitudes only to be turned down after a rather awful performance.

Overall the show flowed a lot better than last year. There was a great balance of good and bad performances, with less “woe is me” stories from previous years.  The judges have great chemistry and they don’t seem to bicker nearly as much as the panel from last year. While it’s still early in the season, it’s clear Simon made the right decision to bring in Demi and Britney.

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About the author

Ryan White-Nobles

Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.