Britney Spears and her litany of one word responses will not return to Fox’s The X Factor next season, reports TMZ. The singer will instead be focusing on a new album and tour.
The news comes as little surprise. Just after the competition’s December finale, a swirl of “Britney Spears quits X Factor” rumors hit the web. While Spears, 31, certainly brought buzz to X Factor, her subdued performance, at times felt robotic and forced, begs the question of whether she was even asked back. X Factor has seen a ratings increase, but not a surge. As Spears was considered an investment to boost ratings, she may not have delivered a $15 million dollar performance.
Producer and fellow judge Simon Cowell spent the season defending his decision to cast Spears, arguing in October that Spears had proved “a lot better than everybody thought…She has been, I think, a very, very good judge.” Yet critics did not agree, calling her performance “boring” and commenting on her overuse of the word “amazing.” However, Cowell’s most recent remarks were decidedly less enthusiastic. “I don’t know yet, to be honest with you,” he admitted in early December to E! when asked if Spears would be returning. “I haven’t had the conversation with her whether she’d want to, what other commitments she’s got.”
No word on how much of a hand Cowell had in her departure. TMZ claims the decision was Britney’s. “Britney loves Simon, she likes Demi Lovato but her thing is music,” an unidentified source reported.
X Factor did present a silver lining for Spears though in terms of her own work. Likely due to the platform of the show, Spears’ collaboration with Will.i.am, “Scream and Shout,” shot to the top of Billboard’s digital downloads chart. Now, Spears is reportedly headed back to the studio to create more new music. Will.i.am will serve as one of her chief producers.
The new album will be a particularly significant one for Spears, as it marks the last on her recording contract with Jive (a division of Sony). After completing and promoting the upcoming album, Spears is free to go wherever she pleases. Reportedly, X Factor costar and record exec L.A. Reid is hot to sign her. Reid runs Epic, another division of Sony.
However, Reid will face stiff competition from Barry Weiss, head of Island/Def Jam, who used to head Jive. “I have a 15-year history with Britney and would love to be reunited with her” said Weiss.
As she quits X Factor, Spears will have more time to weigh her undoubtedly lucrative offers.