Britney Spears, Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid walked away from the judges' table after a man dressed in drag auditioned for The X Factor in Greensboro, North Carolina July 9 -- a smart decision on their part, according to the trio.
"It was just horrible," Reid, 56, said of the performance backstage. "The truth is he was horrific. We just couldn't take it anymore. But Simon [Cowell, 52] has a little more tolerance and more patience than we do."
Though Spears, 30, was the first to walk away, the "I Wanna Go" singer was merely heeding Lovato's instruction. "I was following her. I was taking her lead," the Louisiana native explained. "She was like, 'Let's go!' And I was like, 'Okay.' It was our dinner break, anyway."
Prior to leaving the stage, Spears looked visibly bothered as the male contestant, wearing cat glasses and a bedazzled jean jacket, struggled to sing her 1999 pop classic "(You Drive Me) Crazy." She eventually returned to the stage, sans Lovato and Reid, and offered a quick critique. "I really respect the tribute. It was really nice, but I just don't feel like it's for X Factor," she told him. "Sorry, sweetie."
According to Lovato, 19, the X Factor hopeful's performance -- and his bizarre behavior -- was too painful to watch. "I was really uncomfortable because I was like, 'Oh my gosh, he's on the floor crying because he thinks he's done such a good job.' I felt so bad," she said. "I laughed at first, but then I felt bad."
"I usually can't look when they're bad," Spears added.
The X Factor will premiere September 12 on FOX.