Simon Cowell Says Britney Spears ‘Couldn’t Talk’ During Her ‘X Factor’ Stint

As all those who tuned in, even if for a split second, to The X Factor last season know, Britney Spears was out of place on the judge’s panel: she said few words, made wacky facial expressions and felt awkward all throughout.

That’s why after a short-lived tenure, Spears took her bow. But now months later, the show’s head honcho Simon Cowell is harking back, calling out the pop star for her failed run on the Fox singing competition during his recent sitdown on Ellen.

“There was a time where I think everybody was trying to up themselves in terms of who could find the biggest known star to be on a panel,” Cowell said, pointing out American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez and the “other one … blondie” on The Voice, Christina Aguilera. “And so we thought, ‘well, we’ll take Britney. And she was fine, but I think she found it very uncomfortable.”

“She’s not a big talker,” DeGeneres said.

“I didn’t realize that,” Cowell admitted. “I kind of booked someone who couldn’t talk, which is a bit of a problem when you want someone to judge. She was just uncomfortable … I liked her.”

Now with the departure of both Spears and L.A. Reid, X Factor has tapped two new judges, Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio, to join Cowell and fellow returning judge Demi Lovato for the upcoming season.

“We decided to change it this year and I thought, ‘I’ll work with three girls,’ because I like working with girls,” Cowell said.

The X Factor returns Wednesday, Sept. 11.