updated 09/13/2012 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 09/13/2012 AT 10:00 AM ET
It’s good to have Britney Spears back. She’s a star, whatever her ups and downs, and the originator of some of the most iconic pop images of the past 20 years. Yes, it’s always good to know Britney is in the house. Or simply a house.
Or even The X Factor.
Wednesday saw her debut as a judge on season 2 of FOX’s colossally ambitious – if not colossally successful singing competition – along with 20-year-old Demi Lovato. Juxtaposed with the 30-year-old Spears, Lovato looked very young.
Simon Cowell, who suffered a ratings disappointment with season 1, let Spears dominate the two hours. This was as obvious a choice as, say, not letting ex-judges Paula Abdul or Nicole Scherzinger dominate.
Spears still has a lot of charm in her expressive mouth – she has a great mouth, actually – and eyes that easily convey whatever emotion the moment requires. She has simple, undeniable physicality. But was she the rejuvenatory surprise that Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez were when they arrived in season 10 of American Idol?