June 20, 2012 6:13pm PT by Michele Amabile Angermiller
'X Factor': Britney Spears Looks for a 'Spark' in San Francisco (Video)
The X Factor judges arrived in San Francisco earlier this week, and according to Demi Lovato, the auditions were a big improvement over Kansas City.
“The talent has been pretty great,” she revealed. “I have seen a few people that really caught my attention.”
What Lovato is looking for, she said, isn’t necessarily the best voice. Rather, “It’s the sparkle in the artist’s eyes. It’s the way that they command a room when they step on stage,” she said. “If we were just looking for good voices, we wouldn’t have put some of the people through that we put through today."
Britney Spears maintained that she is a "fair judge," and empathizes with the contestants' journey in the audition process.
“I know what they have been through, being so young,” she said. “It is such a subtle and delicate situation when they are that young, so you have to use constructive criticism, be there for them and show them support."
Spears added that she's looking for a “spark” with the contestants as well. “Someone that is meant to do what they are doing, and it shows,” she said.
That seemed to be the case with one auditioner, Don Phillip, a former labelmate of Spears' who appeared on a song from her Baby One More Time album over a decade ago.
“I know Britney didn’t know I was coming, because she had this look on her face like, ‘Holy sh-t,’” he told Celebuzz in an interview. The two proceeded to get teary when Phillip revealed that he had struggled for many years to figure out his sexuality.
“I think it is fine you are gay,” the Spears said.
Added Phillip: “She’s the best, just the sweetest girl. She’ll be around for a long time.”
Watch interviews with Spears and Lovato in the video below: