Britney Spears, Sweetie

Austin's ‘X Factor’ auditions star Britney Spears

Britney Spears outside the Frank Erwin Center, 5.25.12
Britney Spears outside the Frank Erwin Center, 5.25.12 (by Gary Miller)

In filing a report for the New York Post on The X-Factor auditions here in town last week, I spent five hours at the Frank Erwin Center on Friday watching Britney Spears' every move.

She arrived next to muscle, a handler in a white T-shirt leading her out from the side of the UT drum to shrieks from the masses. She looked fly in her skimpy pink mini dress, with black heels anchoring toned legs, and hair extensions popping like they did in the Nineties.

She waved to the crowd with a timid Miss America palm, smiling and tilting her head just a little. Everybody in the house went nuts. It was like they'd never seen a blond gal smile before.

The show began devoid of fanfare. A stage manager sent out three sisters from Georgia. They sang Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy" while Spears jotted notes on a pad with perfect pen posture. She voted "no" on the girls, but sympathized with the underground poker ring girl who sang Heart, offering stout technical advice while letting her know that she's not "there" yet.

She made a preteen named Jake shake in his shoes when she flubbed his last name ("Garzen? Gaeza? Sweetie, what is it?"), but loved the Hot Topic tie he wore and called him "hot" after he sang. She voted him through and everyone else, too.

Britney Spears is nothing if not a cheerleader, and she arrived at the conclusion that most singers "have it" even if the other three judges – show creator Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, and L.A. Reid – disagreed.

"I was surprised with the ending, but you have potential," she told a girl named LaTanya who sang soul like Bettye Lavette. The boy band from Orlando had her thinking that Backstreet was back.

She left the stage once, but came back one singer later, clutching a water bottle while dudes shouted "Britney, we missed you!" from the back of the room. Growing stoic as the afternoon progressed, Spears eventually resigned herself to noshing on finger food and saying "Yes" when asked for her vote. It was like she forgot she wasn't watching the show on TV.

She ditched once more towards the end, but this time when she came back, a cute little tomboy raised on country sang "Sometimes," the song that helped Britney Spears sell 14 million albums. The girl got voted off, but the song's original singer had some choice words for her as she walked off: "I'll sign you any day, sweetie."

Then Britney Spears got up and left. The show was over – she'd closed it. She was also the first judge out the room.

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Britney Spears, New York Post, X Factor, Frank Erwin Center, Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, L.A. Reid, Beyonce, Heart

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