britney-spears-XFactor

So it looks like we’re one step closer to finalizing the line-up for this year’s X Factor USA. Numerous news outlets are now reporting as fact that Britney Spears will be joining Simon Cowell, L.A.Reid and a still to be announced fourth judge come the Fall on this year’s X Factor judging panel. But will Britney’s appearance be enough to win over viewers?

Short answer – yes! Look having Britney on the X Factor can hardly hurt the show any worse than the combination of Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger already have! I’ve made my feelings on X Factor season 1 well known here on the site, but in short I thought the first US series of the long running Brit hit was a rare fumble from Simon Cowell. The outspoken Brit had 18 months to secure a top team for his pivotal music competition series – and yet the best he could manage was an early 90’s pop star who hadn’t scored a hit in almost 2 decades and a former girl band singer whose solo career had failed repeatedly around the world.

The fact that The X Factor actually achieved even halfway decent ratings was a testament to the power of Cowell himself and the relentless Fox marketing machine. But there’s no way Fox will spend half as much money this time around. So if Cowell wants people to tune in to season 2 he needs a big gimmick. And Britney is essentially it.

On the plus side you have to admit that Spears is a bona fide star. Her last album, Femme Fatale, may have been the lowest selling of her career but it still shifted over 850,000 copies in the US, and delivered 3 top 10 hits, including a number one (Hold It Against Me). That’s a darn sight better than The Voice’s Christina Aguilera, whose 2010 album Bionic sold just 300,000 copies and couldn’t even scrape a Top 20 hit.

Then there’s the fact that Britney is still major tabloid fodder. From that schoolgirl outfit to K. Fed to the famous head-shaving breakdown to the disastrous Vh1 performance, Spears is a headline-generating machine. And you can bet Fox are just rubbing their hands together at the prospect at all the attention she’ll likely bring to The X Factor.

Okay that’s the good news… now the bad…

Sure Britney is a star and a big name – but let’s be honest, she’s not exactly the most articulate of celebrities. And since her very public breakdown a few years back Britney has become even less communicative. My concern is that Britney was hired simply on her star power alone rather than her actual ability to do the job. Can you really see Britney offering a harsh critique to a contestant? And even if she did, given her own over-reliance on auto-tune, does she have the credibility to offer actual vocal advice? If you were an X Factor contestant would you want Britney as your mentor? Remember how last year’s batch virtually groaned the moment they heard they were on Nicole’s team!

The X Factor is a different show to American Idol and really needs its judges to know their stuff. Though her groups were quickly eliminated last year, at least Paula Abdul was able to bring her choreography skills into play. What can Britney bring? Will she constantly ‘pick’ safe and predictable song choices like Alone and Against All Odds? And how on earth can she compete with experienced and successful record producers like Cowell and L.A.Reid?

I have a feeling Britney will turn out to be perfectly pleasant and bring Fox the headlines they so desperately want. But I also fear we may be heading for more Jennifer Lopez / Steven Tyler style blandness and inanity. We’ve already seen what that’s done for Idol’s ratings. Will The X Factor fare the same….?

But what do you think? Is Britney a good choice for a judge? And how do you think she’ll do… comment away!