The X Factor: Will Britney Spears's Teens Win it All?

10/12/2012 at 09:10 AM EDT

The X Factor: Britney Spears, L.A. Reid Get Ready to Deliberate
Britney Spears and L.A. Reid
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Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato

Britney Spears was only 16 when she shot to stardom as the bubblegum-pop star in the school-girl uniform.

But any sense of solidarity or sympathy didn't seem to soften her judgment on The X Factor Thursday night, when Spears and fellow judge L.A. Reid were tasked with trimming their six-member teams, teen and older-than-25 years old competitors, respectively, into four.

Joined by rapper Will.i.am at her Malibu house, Spears kept it real. After Justin Bieber lookalike Reed Deming, 13, belted out a stripped-down version of the Plain White T's 2006 single "Hey There Delilah" – a little classic rock, when you factor in his age – the freshly minted judge snipped, "I think he could deliver a little bit better than he did." (Of course, she has already been recognized for her tough-as-nails touch at the judges' table.)





Teen Beatrice Miller's take on David Guetta "Titanium" earned an equally uncertain reaction from Spears: "She needs to control her voice a little more," she said. "She's loud. She needs to control her loudness."

Of course, the adults didn't enjoy much slack from Reid, joined by the real Bieber and his manager, Scooter Braun. Already reluctant to take on the oldest group in the competition, he dared the six hopefuls to "really prove that you're worth my time."

But the judges's feedback – be it harsh or earned – will narrow down the competition next week, so tell us: With the youngest and oldest voices on display:

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