Paulina Rubio, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, Simon Cowell, X Factor

Ray Mickshaw / FOX

The X Factor is back and better than ever!

The Fox reality hit returned for its third season on Wednesday, Sept. 11, and introduced viewers once again to a revamped judging panel. Joining Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato at the Pepsi-topped table of criticism were Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio, who replaced L.A. Reid and Britney Spears.

And while there were some terrible auditions featured during the hour, The X Factor seemed intent on showcasing the high level of talent in its premiere, which was a refreshing change. Also refreshing? Cowell's return to biting yet hilarious form and the new energy brought to the judging panel by Rowland and Rubio, who even inspired a potential new catchphrase for the series!

Two frontrunners emerged during the premiere, including the adorable Alex and Sierra, a couple who performed a slowed-down version of Britney Spears' "Toxic." Think The Civil Wars.

"I have the chills," Lovato gushed after the duo's duet. "I'm rooting for you. There's magic." Rowland added, "What you just ignited on stage was something nice." Cowell also had a soft spot for the couple, saying, "You're both cool and quirky. I love them."

Also impressing the judges was 54-year-old Lillie McCloud, who must've found the Fountain of Youth because the grandmother of seven doesn't look a day over than 30. "That was unbelievable," Rubio gushed after her performance, while Rowland asks, "Where have you been hiding?" Lovato, with tears in her eyes, said Lillie "ripped my heart out of my chest. I feel like I'm listening to Whitney Houston." High praise!

Of course, there were a lot of classic Cowell one-liners throughout the hour. After one less-than-stellar audition Rowland tried her best to be nice, simply saying, "I wasn't crazy about the vocal." Cowell? Not as nice. "8,000 dogs have just tried to get into the venue," he said. "I've never heard anything like that in all the years I've been doing it." Later, he asked a group, "Do you rehearse at home? Do you live near an airport?" But our favorite had to be his response after one guy sang "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. "I actually think you did a better job than the iceberg…you killed that song." Ouch!

And with new judges came a new catchphrase on The X Factor: When Rubio says "pitchy," it sounds like "peachy," which becomes a joke for the judging panel.

What a peachy start to season three!

What did you think of The X Factor's season three premiere? Any favorite contestants? Do you like Rowland and Rubio? Sound off in the comments!

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