The second season of X Factor USA began last night with spotlights clearly aimed at the show's two new judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. To help make good television each had a situation with high drama between the judge and a specific contestant. Britney Spears' moment came first.
As had been publicized widely when the auditions first took place, Britney Spears was reunited with Don Philip, a singer who performed a duet with her on her debut album ...Baby One More Time. Since the time of the duet, their careers have gone in very different directions. Britney Spears has gone on to be a superstar, while Don Philip has struggled to create a consistent career in music. As shown last night, the reunion was very emotional for both although his performance was not up to the standards of X Factor according to all of the judges. Watching at home it was unclear exactly why things got as emotional as they did. Part of the reason is that a key portion of the interaction was edited out by the show's producers. In the course of the audition Don Philip came out as gay and expressed his concern that Britney Spears would be upset by the revelation. She reportedly replied, "I think it is fine you are gay." The revelation clearly did not have a bearing on whether or not the judges would vote to keep Don Philip in the competition, but its absence did make the entire encounter, particularly Britney Spears' comments about the "hardships and battles" he had experienced, seem somewhat confusing on TV.
Demi Lovato had her major emotional moment in the closing segment of X Factor USA's two hour debut. 19 year old Jillian Jensen took the stage and spoke about being bullied in school which goes right to the heart of personal experiences for Demi Lovato. She even said by coincidence she has a tattoo that says, "Stay strong," like Demi Lovato. The audition was a gutsy, emotional performance of Jessie J's "Who You Are" that caused the judges to tear up. The entire segment was powerful and personal in the best possible way.
Both Britney Spears and Demi Lovato appeared as solid and engaged choices for judges. Despite a segment depicting Britney Spears as tough, she frequently demonstrated empathy and a solid grip on what amounted to quality singing. Demi Lovato, befitting her age and level of experience, seemed content to be the cheerful, encouraging judge giving the panel an appealing balance as the season kicked off.
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