Simon Cowell is no stranger to rebooting judging panels. After axing X Factor season one judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Sherzinger, keeping Epic Records chairman L.A. Reid, last January, Cowell now faces vacant seats from Britney Spears and the aforementioned Reid as he looks ahead to season three. Reid announced his exit from the program just one week ahead of the season two finale, which saw one of his own mentees, country man Tate Stevens, nab the $5 million prize. Meanwhile, Spears made her exodus official in early January after reports had speculated that she would not be asked back for another shot, citing a lackluster performance on screen. Both judges said they would be returning to focus on their day jobs: music. It remains unclear whether season two judge Demi Lovato will stay put for another season, but we sure hope she will. Here’s why:
Lovato may have beat viewers over the head with her self-proclamations of being “young” and “awesome,” (while Cowell was “old” and “crusty”) but as the youngest panelist at 20 years old, Lovato did bring a fresh perspective to the panel – all aged over 30. Her bantering – make that bickering – with Cowell provided fodder not only for the viewing audience, but for the covering press and the contestants as well. Arguably, the best zingers of the competition (aside from Spears’ quizzical “I just didn’t get it” to CeCe Frey, perhaps her best contribution of the entire season,) came from the mouths of Lovato and Cowell — oftentimes in the midst of an argument.
Cowell has said numerous times that even amid declining ratings for his program, the goal was to gain a much younger-skewing audience, and on that front, succeed they did. While plenty of Khloe Kardashian and Spears fans tuned in — most of whom are likely to be over 18 — it was undoubtedly Ms. Lovato’s loyal Lovatics carrying the tween audience. Even in studio tapings, the former Disney star was the subject of constant and deafening screams, and countless signs. Her fanatical followers stayed glued to Lovato’s every move and offered words of praise and encouragement via social media.
And while Lovato was the first mentor knocked out of the competition, with all four of her young adult acts sent home early, could it be that she was done a disservice with her category?
It quickly became obvious that Lovato not only embraced her competitors, but was the most actively involved judge on the panel. Each week, viewers watched as she worked with her mentees and developed a personal relationship with each and we watched as she sobbed into Frey’s arms upon her elimination. But how could she be expected to guide the careers of young artists that would ultimately emerge to be her own marketplace competition, while simultaneously attempting to navigate her own path? Give her the kids category, formerly coached by Spears, and we have no doubt that her talents will be put to great use. Don’t forget, Lovato was a child star, too.