X Factor Judges, Britney Spears

Rick Mickshaw / FOX

Why would Britney Spears get paid to judge a live singing competition like The X Factor when she's known for not always singing live herself?
—James L., via Facebook

She sort of sings sometimes, you know. But you're partially right: People don't marvel over Brit-Brit's voice or range. They think of something bigger: star power. Whether you love Britney Spears or not, you can't stop looking at her. You refuse to cease reading about her. And you are powerless to stop yapping about her ever-amusing choices in daywear.

And there's more: 

Her videos, at least, some of her early ones, are unforgettable. Her record sales have been huge; in 2007, she became the only female artist in America to have her first five studio albums debut at the two top slots of the chart.

That all adds up to someone who can recruit eyeballs for a reality show. And I have numbers to prove it:

Of course I'm not talking about ratings; the show's second season doesn't even debut until September, although taping is well underway. I'm talking about another statistic that says it all: Brit's Davie Brown Index scores, those statistics that reveal (a) how well-known a star is and (b) how controversial they are. Reality shows don't want talent, after all. They want conflict, and not just on camera.

Observe: Britney's "awareness" rating is over 96, meaning that more than 96 percent of people surveyed knew her by name or face.

Meanwhile, DBI has some very interesting numbers parsing Brit-Brit's overall appeal: It's only at about 55 percent, meaning that people are fiercely divided, nearly in half, over whether they like her or hate her. Just over 4 percent of people surveyed said they like her "a lot," versus 13-ish percent who like her, or the nearly one-third who like her a little. The rest of the people surveyed either don't like her or loathe her.

And that, in a nutshell, is what you want in a reality show star: Someone who is controversial. Someone you love, or love to hate. Britney delivers that on all fronts.

And in case none of the above data satisfies you, remember this: The X Factor has been caught lip-syncing, too...

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