The X Factor's new judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato are off to a good start. Spears and Lovato have joined Simon Cowell and producer L.A. Reid for The X Factor’s second season following the departures of American Idol's Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, and so far the newcomers have received positive reviews.

Spears, for example, has refused to sugarcoat her critiques. When one contestant who had once recorded with Spears began to break down in front of her, she refused to go soft on a sub-par performance. “I feel like through the years maybe you’ve gone through a lot of hardships and battles," Spears said on the judge's panel, "but your voice really isn’t up to the bar of the standards of The X Factor and what we want."

Spears has offered more biting criticism, such as telling one contestant, "I felt like I was listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks," but she is no villain. According to critics, she still appears energetic and excited by the spotlight.

“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,” television critic Tom Gliatto wrote in People.

While Spears, 30, brings a pointed approach, Lovato, 20, offers a sensitive ear, especially to younger contestants.

"As the only judge too young to drink, she related well to the teenage contestants, complimenting them on their glitter, cuteness, lipstick and stage presence," wrote USA Today after The X Factor premiere.

But despite the energy and hype from the new judges, The X Factor’s two-hour season two debut Wednesday night averaged just 8.5 million viewers, which was 3.5 million less than the series premiere last year. In even worse news for the show, the first hour, beginning at 8 p.m., matched them up against NBC's The Voice with Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, and The X Factor clearly lost the head-to-head battle, with viewers slipping to 7.5 million during the hour, next to The Voice's 10.7 million. —Hal Sundt

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