Judging Britney Spears’s performance on X Factor thus far has been amusing — the faces! — but mostly futile; until last night, the show was pretaped and therefore heavily edited, showing Britney only at her sassiest or most enthusiastic. But last night, as promised, X Factor went live — meaning two hours of real, theoretically unscripted Britney Spears was broadcast to an entire nation. Some worried that she wouldn’t be able to deliver without her flashcards. There was concern that she wouldn’t make it back from her cigarette breaks in time to judge. And let us remember: This was a particularly vulnerable Britney, whose family and ex-boyfriends have spent the better part of a week airing out Spears’s sad personal history in an attempt to take more of her money. The lesser among us would probably have started sobbing mid-show (or stormed the stage, screamed something about how Sam Lufti is a dirtbag, and hopped the first plane to Cabo).
So given the circumstances, Britney turned in a totally acceptable performance. Sure, her answers were rehearsed and mostly consisted of the word amazing repeated until it was devoid of all meaning. No, she didn’t engage with the judges, or offer anything approaching constructive criticism. Charismatic is not an adjective that you would use to describe her presence. But she did not run off stage! She even hit on a couple of contestants, once she got more comfortable. If this show were just Britney reacting to handsome male contestants (and it might be, by the finals), then it might almost feel like 2001 again. (Except for the “Justin is married” situation. Just pretend that didn’t happen.) Anyway, to the scorecard:
General Mood: Pleasant, with heavy uptalk and notes of “I’m just doing what they told me.”
Sass Factor 1 (out of 10): No zingers; no cruelty; no incredulous faces at bad pitch or terrible costumes.
Relatability 2 (out of 10): Britney only talked about her personal experience once, and it was to advise a small child to wear a school uniform à la “Hit Me Baby (One More Time).” Questionable.
Hair Situation 7 (out of 10): Those bangs are great!
Best Vanna White Moment: During the team introductions, when she swiveled around to introduce her mentees.
Number of Amazings used: 11
Synonyms for Amazing Used: outrageous, stunning, entertaining
Average Number of Seconds per Close-Up: 4
Meanest Feedback: “I feel like you were really good, and I feel your effort, but I have to say, I was a little bored.”
Number of Snakes Wrapped Around Britney’s Neck: Zero. Why is this so difficult?