The last time I was in the same room as Britney Spears was her 2001 “Dream Within a Dream” Tour, watching her dance and sing her way through what are now considered her greatest hits. Then she met Kevin Federline and her life went wayward. There was the infamous head shave and attacking the paparazzi with an umbrella. But motherhood and having her new fiance, Jason Trawick, in her life helped Spears rebuild herself up from the depths of crazy and back into a well-rounded, stable career. I, like almost every homosexual man who has Britney fever, was over the moon when Simon Cowell decided to have her as a judge on The X Factor . Rumors bounced back and forth about if Spears would even get the gig but thank God in Gay Heaven she did. I could not wait til September to see what she would be like as a judge and a mentor and on Friday, June 30, I got to experience it first hand, along with 5,000 other fans before anyone else in the television nation.
Months ago my friend Jeremy, who has seen Britney eight times in concert, said he had extra tickets to X Factor Audition tapings and asked me if I wanted to go. Well is the Pope Catholic? It was an automatic yes and I counted down the days. I have never looked so forward to hearing the alarm go off at 7 am as we made the trek with our two other friends to the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. It started to pour and we were worried the judges would not come out for autographs. But once we arrived, the sun came out, and I got my hopes up. We were told, however, that the judges–Britney Spears, Simon Cowell, LA Reid, and the other new addition to the panel, pop songstress Demi Lovato–only make their grand entrance once. So my chance to have an autographed Britney Spears X Factor Audition Live ticket stub was not in the future anytime soon. Guess it was time for us to melt in the blazing sun and pray we get into the air conditioning stat.
As we got the actual tickets to go into the arena, my friends and I were herded like cattle past a maze of camera crews that asked us to scream, hoot, and holler. Walking past the windows of the arena showed a glimpse into the contestants’ back stage area and most were waving to us all. I wondered two things: will they be able to sing and what will Britney be wearing? My mind was so focused on Spears for a minute I almost forgot where I was but then snapped back into reality. I was also going to see a man I have watched on television for over 10 years bashing people at his finest: Mr. Simon Cowell. My excitement was bubbling over by now.
Our seats which were close to the judging table, so we were right in the middle of the action. We began to giggle at the interns who had to do mic checks for the judges. It’s hilarious when you hear a strapping, manly voices do a mic check for Spears and Lovato and one of the worst cockney accents for Cowell. A blonde haired little person then warmed us up with her rendition of “Proud Mary”, forcing my friends and I to whip out our best Tina Turner moves. Then it was time for the host. Frank Nicotero hosted the late 90s syndicated game show Street Smarts and even mentioned “you will know it if you are over 30 or a stoner.” Yes, Frank and I spent many late nights together. He got the crowd excited by announcing “One Direction.” (In fact, the former British X-Factor finalists were heard a lot that day as their hit song blasted through the speakers and girls went crazy.) Nicotero also gave us a challenge. He said he wanted Providence to be the loudest crowd ever. So once the judges eventually arrived we would have to scream really loud. And on a day I forget my ear plugs, damn it.
They showed up a video with scenes from Season One plus other highlights, including no other than.. One Direction. Then the opening notes to “Ooops…I Did It Again” played and Providence went insane. All four judges came out together and I got the answer to the probing question in my mind: Brit was wearing a fiery red dress. It was showtime and I was a teenager all over again. Okay, well maybe I was an adult when she came out but I felt like I was 16.
Now let’s talk about the judging panel and how they did. Britney was very quiet for the most part. She made a couple of strange comments (“When you sing it sounds like you are yawning.”) HUH? She also told a contestant she did not have the X Factor but voted her through anyways. WHAT? Maybe she was just having an off day because the commercials I saw she became the Queen Bee and let her opinion be known: “You CAN’T destroy that song honey.” And for the last segment of the first taping, she was not even on the panel. I do give her mad props though, because she sat there as three different acts butchered her songs. One guy even brought roses out to her before he went into a very interesting version of “Toxic.”
Simon Cowell was just honest and I agreed with a lot of what he had to say. The man knows what he is talking about so when he says it sucks, it usually does. The playful bickering between him and Demi reminded me of the relationship he had with Paul Abdul on American Idol. Cowell called Lovato grumpy several times and at one point she spit mints into his hand.
LA Reid, who seemed to be forever in a bad mood last season, was in great spirits. He was loving most of the talent Providence had to offer. He never got into it with Cowell as I had hope, so we will have to wait to watch what develops.
Hands down, Demi Lovato was my favorite judge. Though we only booed her once and she changed her mind, her honesty and sincerity moved me. There was one female contestant who had been bullied and Lovato, a victim herself, went up to hug her and tell her it was okay. She is most definatley a role model for young girls out there, and plus who stands up to Simon Cowell with that much sass wins in my book.
The only thing that really annoyed me during the whole day was during the judges’ breaks. Nicotero went around the arena with a mic, allowing people in the audience to sing. I give them mad props for being brave and doing it. But there are only so many off-key Adele songs I could stomach. All in all, this was a winning day and I hope I can experience something like this very soon. Watch the Rhode Island auditions to see if you spot me dancing like a crazy fool.
The X Factor premieres tonight at 8pm and Thursday night at 8pm on Fox!