Is it too early to rename "The X Factor" as "The Britney Makeover"?

The premiere episode of the redesigned singing show spent more time trying to prove Britney Spears could be a tough judge than evaluating serious performances. Time and again, the cameras captured Spears saying "no" to contestants, emphasizing that she was no pushover.

A couple problems with that: Simon Cowell said last season that his show would capture all the backstage drama, but there was no mention of reported stories that a nervous Spears begged to depart the show before the first auditions. Even worse, the "no's" were for clear losers - one circus act after another. Cowell has always understood the appeal of terrible auditioners, but the show went overboard on its Wednesday premiere. There was really nothing to judge. Either singers were terrific - or they were horrible. (Only one performer, a guy in a wedding dress, split the panel).

The show also opened with a seemingly manufactured feud between a single mother and a bratty blonde that was less compelling than a mediocre episode of "The Real Housewives of Orange County."

"The Voice" got off to a stronger start, in large part because the judges have found a real chemistry and seem to genuinely care about who gets what contestants. "Voice" also doesn't play the "circus" card. Everyone of the contestants I saw on the first two nights could genuinely sing. 

Viewers seemed to agree that "The Voice" has more merit these days. Its one-hour edition on Wednesday bested "X Ffactor" by 20 percent. "X Factor"'s premiere was also down 23 percent from last year.

Maybe Britney isn't as big a draw as Fox originally thought.


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