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Britney Spears debuts on 'X Factor' show

This May 24, 2012 photo released by Fox shows judges, from left, L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and Simon Cowell from the singing competition series, 'The X Factor,' in Austin, Texas. This May 24, 2012 photo released by Fox shows judges, from left, L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and Simon Cowell from the singing competition series, "The X Factor," in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Fox, Ray Mickshaw)
By Jim Vertuno
Associated Press / May 25, 2012
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AUSTIN, Texas—Britney Spears has been on the job just two days and she's already proving to be a popular judge on "The X Factor."

The pop queen is also growing into her role as critic on the Fox singing contest show.

"The X Factor" staged its first auditions for the upcoming season Thursday and Friday in Austin, Texas, and judging by the boisterous cheers and the "I love you Britney!" calls from the crowd, the Grammy-winning singer is already a hit in her new role.

She's also showing she's not afraid to vote against contestants or disagree occasionally with show creator Simon Cowell and fellow judges Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid.

"I feel like your song was just in the wrong key," Spears told a contestant Friday, adding that choosing a different song would have been "more interesting."

She told another contestant, "Your voice is really sweet, but I feel like you need a little more training."

Spears has yet to develop the chattiness that Lovato, also a new judge, had with the often nervous contestants. While Spears was direct but brief with her opinions, Lovato demonstrated a more casual rapport with the singers, even when it was clear they weren't going to be cut.

Spears, 30, was brought in to help boost ratings for "The X Factor" after its debut season fell short of Cowell's predictions. The former child performer became an international star with her 1999 debut album, "... Baby One More Time." Other hits have come ("Oops!... I Did It Again," `'Toxic") but her personal life has been difficult, with rehab spells and time in a psychiatric ward.

For her judging debut, Spears wore a bright neon pink dress and she sat next to Cowell during Friday's auditions. The two routinely chatted during the breaks between singers.

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