I walked up to Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum on June 19 to find a swarm of locals outlasting the heat, clutching neon signs, and chatting animatedly. The X Factor, a reality singing show that airs on FOX, had offered an exciting opportunity — to be an active part of the viewing audience, or the “fifth judge,” to see live acts on stage and hear some really incredible talent. The show’s 2011-2012 season ranked 8th most watched nationally among adults aged 18-49.
A young girl clad in a hot pink fedora squealed, “Demi is right through there!” referring to pop superstar Demi Lovato. Her friend smiled and nodded and proceeded to confess her love for Simon Cowell, the show’s creator, who is beloved for his snarky remarks and his brutal-but-honest quips.
Cowell and Lovato are the two returning judges to The X Factor, which is entering its third season. Lovato, 20, a former Disney Channel star, is his antithesis. The righteous and benevolent Lovato often butts heads with Cowell, and the first day of taping in Uniondale was no different.
“Demi told me to be here at 3:30,” explained the tardy Cowell, as he strolled into the arena thirty minutes into the taping, to the laughing crowd. Lovato rolled her eyes, claiming she knew he’d find a way to blame her.
Mexican pop star, Paulina Rubio, and R&B singer and Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland, joined the two returning judges, replacing pop superstar Britney Spears and music producer, L.A. Reid. The changes created a shift in the dynamic of the judges’ panel — the theme of this season’s The X Factor? Girl power.
Outnumbered three-to-one, Cowell soon felt the heat from his co-judges. They each came equipped with jabs in attempt to lighten his exaggerated negativity. Rowland ask him if it was necessary for him to say things the way he did, while Rubio playfully mocked his wardrobe choice of a plain white T-shirt. Cowell, of course, managed to get his usual quips in:
“That was the worst audition I have ever seen,” he told one contestant. (The show’s publicists requested that no names of contestants or spoilers be revealed prior to the show’s airing.)
“Buy new friends,” he said to another, after a contestant explained that his friends encouraged him to audition.