Jealousy! Rivalry! Britney! 'The X Factor' pitted boy band against boy band, singer against singer and reunited us with our favourite dysfunctional popstar in a two-hour premiere last night.
After what feels like years of Britney Spears locked away in a Rapunzel-like tower, she's free, and we got to see her in the new season of The X Factor just hours after its US debut.
It is so easy to suffer from talent show fatigue. It’s hard to stay emotionally invested when you have to support the cast of three or four different shows; there has to be something that makes it worthwhile.
Starting the week was 'New Zealand’s Got Talent' (local shows are on our must-see list) and bookending it is 'The X Factor' featuring the long awaited arrival of Britney. Sorry, 'America’s Got Talent' and 'The Voice', you lose. We’ve only got room in our hearts for a limited number of talent, and the opportunity to hear Britney (Britney speaks!) wins out.
Not everyone felt the same though; 'The X Factor' debuted to low ratings in the U.S. and lost out to rival show 'The Voice' in its timeslot.
Fellow former bad girl of pop Demi Lovato is also on board this season. Demi and Britney are poster girls for how celebrity can go horribly wrong and their eventual mentoring sessions with their respective teams will probably start off with them advising their talent to RUN! RUN FOR THE HILLS AND DON'T LOOK BACK!
As with any talent show, it's essential to create tension and fake drama between the contestants and 'The X Factor' had a secret weapon in wobbly voiced Kaci Newton. Kaci and her sister were used to great effect with clever edits to create the illusion that they were giving the evil eye to all and sundry, when in reality they were probably just squinting at the wall.
In between shots of Britney laughing hysterically, we saw a barrage of back stories, many of which seemed overly scripted with cameras conveniently shoved in contestants faces as they met.
Thirteen-year-old Reed Deming, who was compared to Justin Bieber, but actually has the same haircut and face as Britney's kids, gave a performance that seemed especially staged. Simon made him change his song halfway through and even though we could not discern any difference in his voice, the judges decided his version of 'Grenades' was vastly superior.
Paige Thomas was first out of the gate singing Mary J Blige’s 'I’m Going Down'. Her stunning vocals (and face) had Simon calling it one of his favourite ever auditions.
"You remind me of a girl I met five or six years ago in my office, and her name was Rihanna," said L.A. L.A.’s sole contribution this season is telling the contestants who from the world of entertainment they remind him of.
Young male trio (they reject the label 'boy band') Emblem3 came out with a radio friendly self-penned song 'Sunset Boulevard' for an enthusiastic audience.
Janelle Garcia had the audience dancing in the aisles as she sang Grace Potter and the Nocturnals 'Paris'.
"That was absolutely incredible, that was amazing," said Britney.
"What is missing in the pop charts is a young Pat Benatar or someone like that," said Simon.
Nineteen-year-old Jillian Jensen had a moment with Demi over their shared history of being bullied. While her emotionally charged performance of Jessie J’s 'Who You Are' was impressive, it was hard for us to take her seriously because she looked so much like a young Kristen Wiig playing the role of a weepy teen. Even ice queen Simon Cowell got a bit misty-eyed, while a single tear coursed down Demi’s cheek.
"When you sang, you broke my heart," said Demi.
Quatrele Da'An Smith sang a horrible version of Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' but somehow Britney and Demi were swayed by his bridal veil and shocking pink lipstick.
"If you imagine Madonna, Bobby Brown and Dracula had a child, it would be you, but in a weird way, I liked it," said Simon.
Vocal coach Don Phillip previously recorded a duet with Britney 10 years ago and was incredibly vague and twitchy about what's happened since then.
Poor Britney looked like she wanted to run away as Don started crying, telling her "I never thought I’d see you again."
Sadly, Don's bizarre performance of Beyonce’s 'Halo' was unanimously rejected.
"Did you see Britney’s eyes?" he sobbed backstage. "I never meant to hurt Britney, I’m so sorry for Britney."
There was obviously a lot more to Don Philip's story and while we assumed it was drug use, it was later revealed that Don came out to Britney on stage and this moment was controversially edited out of the final version.
Vincent Thomas, who claimed to have been in a European boy band, gave trio Emblem3 some unwanted advice. He tried to sing Elton John's 'Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word' but it sounded more like aimless humming. Was he just making up his boy band past?
"You know how there used to be boy bands years ago and there was five of them and there was always one who didn’t sing, that’s you," said Simon.
They had built up 22-year-old bank teller Kaci Newton as the mean egotistical girl for the entire first hour, so we just knew she was going to be awful.
"You remind me of someone," said Simon, looking at Britney, who didn’t seem terribly complimented by the comparison.
"Stop!" Britney shrieked at Simon.
"This is going to sound odd, but it sounded like you were dying," said Simon after Kaci's shaky version of Katy Perry's 'Firework'. "You are quite annoying so I’m going to have to say no."
Creepy 50-year-old baggage handler Shawn Armenta claimed to have trained six hours a day with a choreographer and a vocal coach for a year and half for 'The X Factor'.
The audience was slack jawed in horror at his gruesome performance of his own composition, 'Candy Girl'.
"I’ve worked way too frigging hard for this," said Shawn, sounding a lot like an angry Will Ferrell character as Simon delivered his verdict.
"A lot of people work really really hard for their dreams but it’s not meant for everybody," said Demi as she tried to calm Shawn.
"That’s why you use autotune and I don’t," he shot back at her. BURN.
"I want to know who let you on stage," said Britney, as that poor person backstage felt all the blood rush from their head to their bowels. "I feel uncomfortable with you even starting at me."
You have to hand it to Simon; he sources only the highest quality clunkers for our entertainment.The X Factor airs on TV3 Thursdays and Fridays at 7.30pm