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'The X Factor' Season Premiere Recap: Emotions Run Deep

Introduced in the promo as “The television event of the fall,” The X Factor was off to a big start Wednesday night. With an introduction by former X Factor contestants and global music sensation One Direction, what could go wrong?

In the season premiere Britney Spears and Demi Lovato prove their staying power as judges while breaking some contestants’ hearts. And ladies, Demi informed Simon Cowell that she is not dating 1D’s Niall Horan so he’s still up for grabs.

Speaking of One Direction, it’s no secret that Simon has his hand on their career. The boys even appeared as guest judges on X Factor Australia. So, which members would Simon choose to be judges in America?

"It would probably be between Louis and Harry," he said at the launch of The X Factor in the U.S.

After warning Demi to keep her distance from Niall on the show, “Keep away from him, he’s pure,” we see why he didn’t include him in the pick. Simon even pries into Demi’s love life on the episode. “Have you kissed him?” he asks after Demi tells Simon, “Niall says hi.”

“No! Simon! I’m not looking for anything. I’m not dating anyone for a year and I made it clear,” she said.

Well now that rumor’s cleared up. Let’s meet the contestants!

Contestant: Paige Thomas

Sings: Mary J. Blige “I’m Goin' Down”

The 21-year-old mom breaks hearts before she sings a note. She tears up while telling the judges that she gave up her dream to be a singer to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Currently in school to become a nurse, the moment she belts the first lyric she has the judges smiling. Her sultry voice combined with her funky outfit impress.

Judge’s Take: “Girl, you’re a star. You remind me of a girl I met 5 or 6 years ago in my office and her name was Rihanna. There was something really special about her and I see that in you,” LA Reid said.

Verdict: Unanimous yes.

Contestant: Shawn Armenta

Sings: “Candy Girl” (his own)

This 50-year-old prepared for over a year in order to audition for The X Factor. He went to the studio every night for four hours to learn some dance moves and also took vocal lessons. So did all that hard work pay off? Between his awkward fist pumps and the grimaces from the judges it was a resounding no. Also, he mistakenly decided to diss Demi Lovato. After her initial comment, “A lot of people work really hard for their dreams but it’s not meant for everybody,” he struck back. “That’s why you use Auto-Tune and I don’t.” Word to the wise: don’t insult a judge before they vote.

Judge’s Take: "You’re like a mouse trying to be an elephant. It’s just wrong,” Simon Cowell said.

Verdict: Unanimous no.

Contestant: Reed Deming

Sings: Bruno Mars “It Will Rain” and “Grenade”

Bruno Mars - Grenade (Official Music Video) by Bruno Mars on YouTube

This 13-year-old could pass as Justin Bieber’s twin. Dressed in a grey t-shirt and black vest complete with the Biebs’ hairstyle this kid was so adorable the judges gave him a second chance after his nerves were evident during his first song. Simon asked him to play a track with less production and advised him to “work much harder to shake out the nerves.” With deafening screams from the crowd, Reed is a heartthrob in the making. Simon even winks at the end of his performance (example 1 he’s become soft).

Judge’s Take: “I think you are completely and utterly adorable,” Britney Spears said.

Verdict: Unanimous yes.

Contestant: Kaci Newton

Sings: Katy Perry “Firework” and Duffy “Mercy”

This 22-year-old claims that if you mix Carrie Underwood and Adele together you get her. However, it’s more like when you mix her and her sister Kaylee together you get half the cast of Mean Girls. Dissing every contestant they come across, it’s impossible to like Kaci and the judges see right through her. In fact, you’re almost rooting for her to fail miserably and that’s exactly what she does. Unable to sing in tune or take any constructive criticism from the judges it’s a relief when she walks off the stage.

Judge's Take: “It sounded like you were dying. If you were dying and suffering and singing I think that’s what it would sound like,” Simon Cowell said.

Verdict: Unanimous no.

Contestant: Quatrele Da’an Smith

Sings: Lady Gaga “Born This Way”

Dressed up as a bride, when questioned on his attire, he simply asserted, “Of course, I’m marrying The X Factor today." In what looked to be a white leotard complete with a long white veil, fishnet stockings, black stilettos and hot pink lipstick he was a sight to see. Surprisingly all of the judges except LA Reid were entertained.

Judge’s Take: “If you imagine Madonna, Bobby Brown and Dracula had a child it would be you. But in a weird way I quite liked you,” Simon Cowell said. (Example 2 Simon has a soul).

Verdict: Yes 3 to 1. LA Reid gave a resounding no.

Contestant: Vincent Thomas

Sings: Elton John “Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word”

We expected big things from this 22-year-old former boy band member. Complete with the signature hair flip, he said he performed with his group in Europe and dubbed themselves “the next Backstreet Boys.” Sadly, his singing chops were a let down from the instant he opened his mouth.

Judge’s Take: “In boy bands there’s always one that didn’t sing. That’s you,” Simon Cowell said.

Verdict: Unanimous no.

Contestant: Emblem3

Sings: “Sunset Boulevard” (their own)

This trio of skater boys adamantly said they are not a boy band when the previous contestant gave them boy band advice. They proved to be excellent performers who rocked their own song, a concept LA Reid originally frowned upon. “If you’re gonna go out and do a song we don’t know it better be good,” he advised. With a standing ovation the group, which blends rap and powerhouse singing together, impressed.

Judge’s Take: “I think you guys were very funky and your voices were smooth. I loved it,” Britney Spears said.

Verdict: Unanimous yes.

Contestant: Don Philip

Sings: Beyonce “Halo”

Having done a duet with Britney over a decade ago, there were high hopes for this singer. “I’ve been writing, producing, trying to find my sound. I feel like this is my final chance. There’s no more after this,” he said before he took the stage. Britney remembered him fondly but once he started singing she looked away in pain. His dream to be a singer just wasn’t in the cards.

Judge’s Take: “I feel like through the years maybe you’ve gone through a lot of hardships and battles. Your voice isn’t up to the bar of The X Factor and what we want,” Britney Spears said.

Verdict: Unanimous no.

Contestant: Jennel Garcia

Sings: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals “Paris (Ohh La La)”

This recent high school grad wowed all four judges and definitely was one of the top three performers of the night. Into “old rock and Pat Benatar” it wouldn’t be a surprise if she made it through the entire season. Jennel is a contestant to watch in the upcoming weeks.

Judge’s Take: “You are on the money. Right now what is missing in the pop [scene] is a young Pat Benatar. I really like you a lot,” Simon Cowell said.

Verdict: Unanimous yes.

Contestant: Jillian Jensen

Sings: Jessie J “Who You Are”

Just when you think the night can’t get any more heartbreak, out comes Jillian. Severely bullied as a kid, this 19-year-old was able to channel all her emotions into a song that brought all the judges to tears – including Simon (example 3)! Of all the performers Jillian tugs on the heartstrings with her emotive singing.

Judge’s Take: “Honey, I have never heard somebody take their experiences, pain, and emotion and pour it into a song like you did. Ever. That’s what this business is all about. You’ve got it,” LA Reid said.

Verdict: Unanimous yes.

-Annie Reuter, CBS Local

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