Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Judges Impress In American Idol Season 10 Premiere

There were quite a few question marks going into the 10th season of American Idol - could it survive without Simon Cowell? Would the new judges work out? Can they find more talent for the show?

The answers to all of those questions were answered in the season premiere with a resounding yes.

The new judging panel of Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are total naturals, providing a great mix of entertainment, constructive criticism and ... gasp ... heart. Moreover, unlike last season when Simon Cowell totally phoned it in while in lame duck mode, these judges actually look like they care.

This is not to say that I particularly cared for all of their decisions. There were a few people they put through that I was lukewarm on, but their choices weren't offensively bad/wrong, and I think you can chalk some of them up to being new and not wanting to break hearts.

For instance, the first two people they showed were not people I personally would have said yes to. Rachel Zevita got by on reputation alone because her audition to "Halleluljah" this year was not up to snuff, and if they didn't remember her from her Season 6 audition and were seeing her for the first time, I don't think she would have made it. Caleb Hawley's "Hallelujah I Love Her So" by Ray Charles was praised by Steven Tyler, but I thought it was kind of Constantine Maroulis faux-rock-ish. He even kind of sounds like Constantine. Which is an automatic turn-off for me. Heh. (I don't think I'll need to worry about seeing the next Connie on Idol much longer. Seems like Caleb has a quite a few shows booked in the coming weeks.

I'm also not pleased with the inclusion of Jersey Girl Tiffany Rios, who used her boobs as a gimmick and sang an original song that was about how American Idol needs her. VOM. Her voice, however, was pretty powerful, and she has talent. She's just doing too much to try to stand out, and it's off-putting. And Jennifer Lopez gave her some very wise advise that she needs to concentrate on her vocals, telling her that all these gimmicks and over-the-topness will prevent her from being taken seriously. Spoken from experience, Jenny from the Block? Regardless, it's sage advise.

The judges also let through an annoying little child robot named Victoria Huggins. The way-too-perky bot sang "Midnight Train To Georgia" well enough, but her personality is just TOO MUCH. Although she nearly won me over when she said "yo yo dawg" to Randy. I know the producers are all enamored over the young ones this year, but I'm hoping she's not one of them.

Perhaps the most questionable pass of the show came when they let through "Awkward Idol" Ashley Sullivan. She had quite the personality, and she sang "Gimme Gimme" from Thoroughly Modern Millie fine enough, but she's SO Broadway and so not a pop star. Oh, and she's kind of crazy. She managed to convince the judges to give her a golden ticket, but hopefully they don't let this go on much longer.

Naturally, a couple of sob stories got through. Although I do have to say that most of them backed up their stories with good auditions. Robbie Rosen is 16 and was in a wheelchair when he was younger! Melinda Ademi from Kosovo, who sang Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You", is from Kosovo! Briell Von Hugel's dad has throat cancer! Travis Orlando, the last auditioner, was homeless and living in a shelter in the mean streets of Brooklyn! He has a twin! I normally turn my nose up at such sob stories, but Travis ..... the kid is really, really good. He has great tone and showed some interesting song arrangements with "Eleanor Rigby" and "I'm Yours". And he's really adorable and reminds me of a 16 year-old Bruno Mars. Yeah, he's my favorite after the first day. #willnotgetattached

Another impressive audition came from Devyn Rush, the singing waitress who sang "God Bless The Child." She may be too jazzy to get very far in this show, but she has a great voice. Here's video of her doing an original tune, "He's Not You".

One other person who they showed making it to Hollywood was 15 year-old Kenzie Palmer, who did Carrie Underwood's "We're Young and Beautiful". She's cute and all, but 15? I think it's too young for the rigors and pressures of this show. Plus, these precocious kids are for the most part super-annoying. We'll see ...

I THINK this first show actually showed more good auditions than bad, and I'm happy for this trend to continue. Although I do have to give a shotout to Yoji "Pop" Asano for his Michael Jackson-inspired audition to Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA". Just LOL.

All in all, I'd say Season 10 is off to a great start. But Season 9 started off well and then went way off the tracks. So I'm going to stay cautiously optimistic. But for sure, I think the new judges are a good fit, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing what kind of mischief Steven Tyler is going to get himself into.

1 comment:

Destiny said...

I agree with you, Constantine bashing aside. EVS!

The new judges were great last night. Totally love the positive, invested vibe. And I agree- love that we saw mostly good auditions. And there was minimal bashing of the mentally challenged- only one, which is pretty good for AI. Both of these things are shocking, too, considering that Nigel is back on board.
Love how Jennifer and Steven aren't putting on airs or trying to be the center of attention. That, combined with their credibility/status really set a cool, elevated tone. The lack of nonsense made Randy and Ryan so much better. Keep it up, folks! We may have one of our greatest seasons on our hands, especially in terms of being fun to watch.
Here's hoping!