Anyone who tuned in for the season 2 premiere of The X Factor took away two memorable performances—and neither of them came from singers who made the cut. One was Don Philip, a former duet partner of Britney Spears, who auditioned and was rejected tearfully. The other was Shawn Armenta, who performed his original song "Candy Girl"—complete with a robo-funk choreography routine—then accused Demi Lovato of using Auto-Tune before exiting the stage.
Curious to learn the full story behind that audition—and why Spears told him, "I feel uncomfortable with you even staring at me"—we contacted Shawn Armenta to hear his side of the story. Armenta—a 50-year-old musician and airport baggage worker—told us about the harsh exchange between him and L.A. Reid, why Simon Cowell reminds him of his own dad and why it's ridiculous when 16-year-old kids talk about wanting a dream their whole life.
Shawn Armenta Lambasts Judges On X Factor
I understand you're at work now, so thanks for taking time out of your schedule.
I didn't even realize I was on television until Sunday night when a friend said they saw me on TV in a commercial. I never thought they'd air what I said to Demi, Britney and L.A. Reid.
What did you say to Britney Spears that made her so uncomfortable?
She was mad at me because I sang my song "Candy Girl" and I introduced it as a song about picking up cute girls in a bar. And she got offended that I was singing this to kids in the audience and the "it's degrading to women" type of thing. So she took this whole attitude that I was creepy. So I told her, "Britney, I'm working the camera here." And I told her to stop copying me. She's watched my videos before. I'm afraid to divulge certain things because I don't know if I should yet. [Laughs]
Do you think they edited it unfairly?
They edited it to fit their needs for controversy. They didn't show any of the applause after I was done. What actually happened was that I shut them down for three to five minutes, because they were getting booed. The panel was getting booed. And they couldn't show that on television. But it's all good, it's television: It's done for entertainment and fun and ratings.
When you accused Demi Lovato of using Auto-Tune, were you planning on saying that ahead of time?
I was mad at what L.A. Reid said to me and Demi Lovato got in the middle of it. I work for the airline, I'm a ramper—I load bags. He basically told me I'm a lowlife and all I'll ever be is a lowlife and that I have no business being here. He said I could go back to my lowlife job where I belong. So I got really mad like, "Who the heck are you? Babyface gave you your job." That's when Demi Lovato butted in. I've been in the business doing this kind of thing for 30 years. I play every instrument. Demi was just in the way and that insult came off my head subconsciously. It was really toward L.A., but she butted in. And she doesn't have the experience I have working New York comedy clubs and performing. I've had 48 songs on iTunes [under various names Shawn Armenta, Freddy Krewger and Dude Offline].
Were you expecting to get further in the competition?
I was mad I didn't go further because I spent a lot of time on my routine. [Ed note: In the broadcast he said he'd been preparing for more than a year.] I was angry because I thought I'd go much further than that. I mentioned that to them. You're trying to make someone your star who says, "I'm 16 years old, I've wanted this my whole life!" How would these kids know? They've had a few minutes doing this, and here you got someone like me who has been doing this for 40 years, and has given everything up. That is their life. They [teenagers] do not know what their lives are. I know what mine is.
What kind of music do you have coming up?
Right now I have a song called "Thursday" and there's an actress in it that looks like Rebecca Black. It's really quite funny, it's a parody. I'm actually the drummer and lead guitarist in it.
Did you take anything positive away from the experience?
I actually had a fun experience. Simon cracks me up, because he's like my dad. That's why he doesn’t offend me because my dad does that to me all the time. He's just like that. That's why I work hard.
You can check out Armenta's YouTube channel right here.