'X Factor' Premiere Recap: New Judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato Get Emotional (VIDEO)

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You’ve probably heard by now that Season 2 of FOX's The X Factor has undergone a few amazing changes. New judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato make up a lot of that – I’ll get back to that later.

But, also, the show’s new documentary style adds an amazing new look and feel to the reality singing genre that we really haven’t seen before. Bravo, Mr. Simon Cowell for doing something inventive in a genre that many believe had already seen its better days.

What were the highlights of The X Factor debut?

The Britney/Demi Effect. First, I have to point out what Britney and Demi bring to the competition. It’s amazing to see the “Baby One More Time” singer as an adult. I’m dating myself by mentioning this, but if you compare your memories of the girl who set it off in MTV’s TRL days to the one we see on the panel now, it’s like night and day. She has clearly grown up, weathered the travails of a recording career that spanned more than a decade and found a unique – if not a more broad – view of the world. It’s clearly a revelation to see who Britney is today.

Demi, on the other hand, is a portrait of a girl who’s still establishing herself for a long career. She still feels everything very deeply. Her relatively short entertainment career has certainly seen its up and downs and the girl we see now brings a softer side out of the elder statesmen Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, and, dare we say, even Britney.

Paige Thomas shuts up the mean girls. One of the better storylines of the premiere, we meet contender Kaci Newton. She’s blonde and wore oversized pearls, 'nuff said. Her and her minion friend are cast perfectly as the mean girls. Then, we meet underdog Paige Thomas, a single mom who has put her singing career on the back burner to provide for her adorable daughter. The mean girls target her instantly.

Unaware of how much smack talking and eye-rolling is going on behind her back, Paige takes the stage and wows the judges with her edge and sexy look. Emotional from the beginning, she knocks them out with Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Goin’ Down.” And what better compliment could she have received than L.A. comparing her to another one of his great finds, Rihanna and her “something special”?

Karma hits Kaci instantly when her performance of Katy Perry's “Firework” gave Simon images of “dying.” And her voice was just simply not up to par. Oh, and Simon called her “annoying.” Giggle.

Jillian Jensen brings brings it home for Demi. The 20-year-old will be remembered for seasons to come. Although the bruises may have faded from years of bullying, clearly the hurt sits right at the surface for her. And with Demi’s own history of bullying, Jillian seemed to fill those feelings even more. Her tearful rendition of Jessie J’s “Who You Are” brought the house down and made grown men cry. Watch the performance above.

Emblem3 redefines the boy band. This Huntington Beach trio of dudes arrived in stark contrast to a young man, Vincent Thomas, who used to tour in a boy band all over Europe. Emblem3 opted to sing an original song – pretty much a huge mistake for most contenders – but not this time. There was a part of me that wanted them to flop if not to take them down a peg, but their mix of harmonies and rap hit the right spot in that San Francisco auditorium.

Britney remembers when. When Christina Aguilera had to judge a former friend from the Mickey Mouse Club last season on NBC's The Voice, it was a fun reunion. When Britney’s old duet partner, Don Philip, took to the stage in San Fran, it was heartbreaking. Whatever happened to him in the 10 years since they recorded together had stripped him of his confidence and his singing voice. And really, he didn’t care what else anyone else on that panel had to say. He was looking for Britney’s approval and didn’t get it.

And the pop star was clearly affected by it as she compared what she saw on the stage to the young man she remembered from the old days.

Watch Don’s performance below.

 

That was tough to watch, wasn’t it? What were your highlights from The X Factor’s return? Did you feel Britney and Demi lived up to the hype?

 

Discuss

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