"The X Factor (US)" officially kicked off its new season on FOX Wednesday, September 12. New judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato brought something fresh to the show, as the former was often branded "mean" by contestants due to her honest and blunt comments while the latter empathized with young singers.
The judges gave good reviews to the first performer in the episode, Paige Thomas, who had a powerhouse voice. Though she appeared to be a carbon copy of Rihanna, the 21-year-old mom wowed all four judges with her emotional performance of Mary J. Blige's "I'm Going Down" and she got "yes" answers.
On the other hand, Shawn Armenta's passion in music didn't come with strong talent. Performing his own song "Candy Girl", he prompted Simon Cowell to say, "You're like a mouse trying to be an elephant." When Demi tried to advise him that he wasn't meant for this, the 50-year-old aspiring rapper hit back, "I don't use auto tune like you."
Britney didn't hold herself off when commenting on his performance, saying, "I'm uncomfortable with you even staring at me." It went without saying that the man didn't get a place in the next round.
Quatrele Da'an was another surprising contestant with his choice of outfit. Donning a bridal veil, pink lipstick and a sparkly onesie, he sang "Born This Way". "Sometimes I have to embrace the madness. Today, I am. I'm gonna say 'yes'," Simon said, which was echoed by Britney and Demi. L.A. Reid was the only one who disapproved.
The episode later reunited Britney with Don Phillip, who recorded a duet "I Will Still Love You" for her 1999 debut album. The overly emotional vocal coach sang Beyonce Knowles' "Halo", but it appeared that he was no longer on his top performance. After being turned down by the judges, he cried backstage and said that he "never meant to hurt Britney."
Other highlights of the night were boyband Emblem 3, who sang their own song "Sunset Boulevard", rock singer Jennel Garcia, and Jillian Jensen, a bullying victim who also performed a self-penned song. "When you sang, you broke my heart," Demi said to Jillian and gave her a hug on stage.
As promised by Simon, the episode also showed some behind-the-scene moments, including the contestants' comments on the judges.