When Britney Spears is within a two-hour radius of your home, you sit down (in your car), shut the fuck up, and drive to wherever she is. And so, last week, I stopped my entire life to head over to two of the three X Factor audition days in Providence to see my Queen.
By the time I arrived outside the venue at around 10 AM on Wednesday, there were already about 50 people waiting in line. While I knew that it’d be a while until I saw any form of sustenance again, I don’t think I quite prepared for a 3-hour wait in 90-degree weather–nor the sheer amount of One Direction being played. (I still can’t tell which caused the hives.)
While we waited, the producers made us all do terribly humiliating things, like having us cheer “Providence has the X Factor!”, throwing up X signs with our arms, and yelling like lunatics. In fact, they wouldn’t even let us into the building until they captured the right amount of enthusiasm for the cameras. (I assume this was all a test of our devotion to the Spearit.) After almost three hours of the torture tactics, we were mercifully herded in like sheep.
Now, the audience at the X Factor reminded me of a few things: First, I don’t ‘get’ humans. I really don’t. It’s incredible what you’ll witness in the audience of a live TV program–the knee-slapping glee as Simon shades a contestant, the chest-clenching agony as Demi decides the fate of some twentysomething on stage, the enraged boos when LA fails to see star potential. People get so invested in these (likely scripted) sob stories–and for people they’ve only known for thirty seconds! (Meanwhile, I spent my time attempting to communicate with Britney telepathically, which would come in handy later–FORESHADOWING.)
Also, the sheer amount of hair-feathers! And neon! Also, STOP YELLING ABOUT ONE DIRECTION–THEY’RE NOT EVEN IN THE GODDAMN BUILDING, YOU WRETCHED TEENS. Okay, I’ll stop. I know I’m an asshole or whatever, but seriously y’all…there are some basic bitches in this world.
Secondly, I’m old now! While I saw/met plenty of my kind of people–a group of gays holding a glittery sign that reads “WE LOVE BRITNEY!”, a woman smiling to herself with her Femme Fatale Meet & Greet photo–there were just as many, if not more, girls and gaybys shaking and crying for Miss Demetria. And while I love me some Miss Demi, I mean…Britney Spears is in front of you. Like, stop. Buy Britney Spears: Live From Las Vegas and educate yourself. So embarrassing.
For about an hour, we sat through sound checks by the crew, pre-taping reactions (“Standing ovation! Confused faces!”) and were regaled with sarcastic quips from in-house host, Frank Nicotero, of Street Smarts fame. He spent a few minutes giving us rules, like no phones during the show (oops), and then we waited even longer. But all of the anticipating (REFERENCE!) was worth it, because once the introduction video began to roll around 2 PM, the world briefly stopped spinning: The judges were entering the room.
Anyone who’s ever seen Britney in person is familiar with The Britney Effect: We already know she’s beautiful because we look at photos of her face every day on The Internet and on the lock screens of our iPhones. But in person, it’s just another level–she is truly a goddess.
When Britney finally strolled out into the arena, the crowd flew into a wild, shrieking frenzy. The gorgeous hair, the red dress, the fit body, the calves that are certainly not playing around, THAT SMILE–she is utter perfection, wrapped in flawlessness, dipped in a bucket of stunning, and every single person in that room could feel The Power of Britney.
The audience was swarmed by bodyguards to ensure that the common people didn’t step out of line and attempt to hug, touch or even look at Godney directly in the eyes. (Fun fact: Living legend, you can look but don’t touch.) After walking through toward the judge’s table with the others, she stood delivering blessings in the form of nervous smiles, plugging her ears briefly as a result of all the shrieking, and then turned around quickly to have a seat.
Over the next three hours, the judges worked through approximately fifteen auditions. For the most part, Godney remained short and succinct. She clearly left her fucks back at the hotel next to her Holy Spearit vanilla candles, because she had zero time for most of the (mostly) average auditions. Every time she leaned in, took a deep breath and declared “no,” the entire stadium shuddered. She was pleasant, of course–she said “Yes!” often and told a few contestants that they were “a true star” (she loves that one!)–but for the most part, she was on the lookout for something legendary.
When she wasn’t crushing dreams, she was providing life-giving advice. After a terrible husband-wife duo did some terrible rock anthem, Britney cocked her head at both of them. “I don’t really like your image. I think you should wear a wig,” she sagely suggested. “Who should wear a wig, Britney?” asked Simon. “…Both,” she responded. And so it was said.
Other specifics included telling one contestant that he reminded her of Cabaret, telling a contestant that he did “a complete 360,” (she meant a 180, but no one’s about to shade the singer of “I’m A Slave 4 U” on her aptitude for geometry) telling a truly phenomenal girl–after two standing ovations–that it sounded “like you yawn during your high notes,” telling a girl she sounded “nasally,” and my personal favorite on Day 3: “You have a good voice, but you’re not a star.” Shut down.
The only moment of true Awkwardney happened after a cool/kind of lame, schtick-y female rapper-singer–think of a cross between Santigold and Party City–wowed the crowd with her story, her freestyle rapping and her singing all during one audition. After a slew of positive remarks from all the judges, they began giving their final decisions. “Britney, yes or no?” Simon asked.
B leaned into the mic with a smile: “I think you know what I’m thinking.” Silence. Complete silence. I THINK YOU KNOW WHAT I’M THINKING. Literally no one knew what she was thinking. ESPney!
After a beat, Simon joined in: “Britney, what are you thinking?” She turned, briefly puzzled. “Oh! Hell yeah!” she urged quickly. It was a weird, off moment that fell flat–for most people. Of course, I already knew what Britney was thinking.
During the two 10-minute breaks, while Simon, Demi and LA turned around to take photos, Queen B bolted offstage in a blur (REFERENCE!) of red faster than “Hold It Against Me” shot to #1 last January–no time for fan interaction. Why? Because no thanks, Britney chooses her own destiny, and as I’ve already said, the audience was kind of scary (REFERENCE!) She’d return to her seat later–accompanied by Larry and Jason–ready to make her judgments once again.
And that, more or less, was the XFactorney experience. She came. She saw. She politely said “No.”
It’s been a while (REFERENCE!) since I last saw her in person, but having now felt the Holy Spearit presence for several hours last week, I can confirm that our Queen is doing amazing. She looks gorgeous and sounds great. Her critiques are admittedly short, yes–and she rarely interacts with the other judges–but she does seem happy.
And if the swell of energy in the room any time Queen B stood up was any indication, it didn’t really matter what Britney said. Most people were there, as I was, merely to be in the presence of greatness.
A special shout out to my brothers in Britney–Michael, Jordie and Lance–for making this a truly amazing, Brit-tastic journey of the most legendary proportions!
All photos from my Instagram–follow me at “muumuse.”