Looks like the X Factor will have to find a new blank-eyed country ham to hurt people's feelings; Britney Spears will not be returning as a judge next season.

That's according to multiple reports just released; the reason, though, is shrouded in mystery.

TMZ claims Spears quit the show (leaving behind a $15M contract) to focus on her music, which is surely the version of the story Britney's handlers will tell her.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter purports to have heard from insiders that she was simply not going to be asked back as a judge next season.

While Fox has yet to make a comment on Spears' exit, this news, coupled with judge L.A. Reid's previously-announced departure leaves them scrambling for two famous butts to jam into the thrones of power.

Might we nominate Mariah Carey plus a previously recorded version of Mariah Carey, so that she can disagree with, sing over, and throw shade at herself?

[TMZ // Hollywood Reporter // Image via Getty]