"The X Factor" judges Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, L.A. Reid and Louis Walsh, the British "X Factor" panelist who has been sitting in for Simon Cowell while he recovers from bronchitis, are in Kansas City, Missouri, as auditions for the second season of the reality singing competition continue. The group gave their first interview since Spears and Lovato were announced as judges at the Fox upfronts.
The judges discussed the "bizarre" performances they've seen, how they get along, whether Spears' and Lovato's careers as performers make them more sympathetic or critical of the contestants, and the one time everyone ganged up on Britney.
"I feel like we've had a little bit of bizarre performances overall," Spears said of the Kansas City performances. "There have been some good ones, but for the most part, there's been some that were pretty bad!"
Reid admitted that he and Spears "get along good," but that much like Cowell, Walsh has been the quippy thorn in Reid's side.
Luckily for Walsh, though, he does get along with the two women judges. "Britney likes me and Demi likes me," he said.
Asked which judge the rest of the team tends to agree with the most, Reid said that Spears has the best eye for contestants that have that special something. "We tend to agree with Britney more than others. Honestly, I'm being funny, but she has amazing taste."
"You ganged up on me one time though," Spears quickly countered, half-jokingly. "You three guys did. One time, [and] it wasn't nice!"
"One time out of 75 auditions, that's not bad," Reid replied.
As for what makes Spears happiest when judging, she said, "It's the best feeling when someone comes onstage and just makes us want to stand up and gives us energy."
Having made their names as entertainers, both Spears and Lovato admitted that their careers have helped them relate to the contestants because they've "been in their shoes." But it's a double-edged sword because it has made both judges more sympathetic to the show's contestants, particularly when they have to deliver bad news.
"It's something I've definitely had to learn. At first, I really didn't even want to do it," Lovato said of having to criticize contestants. "It's easier to say, when you're having meetings with people, 'Oh yeah, it will totally come easy,' or something. But when I got in the seat and had to give negative criticism to somebody ... it sucks. But they're asking for your advice, and by stepping on that stage, they also know that you could not like their performance. They're taking a chance, and I'm going to take a chance by telling them something that I believe."
The interview comes on the heels of news that all four judges walked off the set after a disastrous audition in which a contestant — who reportedly wasn't a particularly talented singer — sang with his back to the panel. "It was really awkward," a source told People.com. "They didn't want to waste their time."
People also reported that Spears is proving to be a tougher judge than many expected. A source told the magazine, "She's got a really good instinct, and when she loves something, she looks like she wants to dance on the desk. When she doesn't like someone, she is incredibly tough."
For her part, the pop star insists her firm stance is in the best interest of the contestants. "It's all tough love ... I promise!" Spears tweeted along with a link to the People article.