X Factor 2012 premiere highlights: Don Philip, Britney Spears and Jillian Jensen

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 12, 2012 

Wednesday evening, I tricked myself into believing my most complex life dilemma was whether I should get hooked on the new season of "The X Factor."

I wasn't a huge fan when the Fox reality series made its U.S. debut. In fact, I think I watched all of two minutes of the first season. So any observations that follow won't come from a contextual perspective.

"American Idol" still holds the top spot in my heart, and it's rare for me to watch another reality TV talent competition from start to finish.

But I had to kill some time before the new episode of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," so I decided to give "X Factor" a whirl.

For the uninitiated, "The X Factor" differs from "Idol" for a few key reasons. There's no upper age limit, and the show is open to both soloists and groups. Also, "The X Factor" uses a coaching concept similar to what you see on "The Voice."

It's also important to note that the U.S. version of "The X Factor" went through a major reboot this season. Simon Cowell and LA Reid are still on the judges' table, but they're now joined by Demi Lovato and Britney Spears.

Which brings me to my first critique: the judges. Overall, I enjoyed Britney and Demi on the panel. Did they say anything that revolutionized the entertainment industry? No. But they were coherent and kept things moving along.

Then again, when it comes to the court of public opinion, this is the easiest time for the judges. It's too early for us to criticize them for signature catchphrases and empty critiques. (Sigh...remember Steven Tyler's pre-"beautiful" days?)

I could have done without Britney's emo glasses, but whatever. Her biggest challenge came when she had to critique Don Philip, a contestant with whom she performed a duet back in her early days. Let's just say his voice apparently doesn't age as well as fine wine. He got a unanimous "no," including a rejection from Britney.

(The drama didn't stop there. Check out this Perez Hilton post.)

If the second season of the U.S. "X Factor" lags in ratings, it probably won't be because of the judges. The more likely culprit? Reality TV's saturation point.

Wednesday's premiere ended with a dramatic audition. Jillian Jensen emotionally belted Jessie J's "Who You Are," after telling how she'd been bullied. She was in tears at the end of the song -- a moment powerful enough to dig some emotion out of Simon Cowell.

I should've been touched. Instead, I was wondering how many times I'd seen the same scenario play out in front of a panel of reality TV judges.

We can only get invested in so many reality TV contestants' back stories. What's more, it's hard to appreciate a compelling back story without wondering if TMZ will have an article debunking it tomorrow morning.

Among the premiere's other highlights: boy band Emblem3, rocker Janelle Garcia and Quatrele, the guy who dressed as a bride and sang "Born This Way."

So, what did you think?

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