AMERICAN IDOL Season 10 Premiere Recap - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

AMERICAN IDOL Season 10 Premiere Recap

January 20, 2011 by  

It wasn’t until after I turned off AMERICAN IDOL’s season premiere last night that it occurred to me — I didn’t miss Simon Cowell. Not only did I not I miss him, but he didn’t cross my mind once during the entire show. It was a bit of a revelatory moment considering that Simon has been the backbone of IDOL since the show premiered back in 2002.

With Simon (and Kara and Ellen) gone, there was room next to Randy at the judges table, and last night was the first time America got to see new judges, Jennifer Lopez and Steve Tyler, in action.  How would Jenny from the Block and the Aerosmith front man fare critiquing these fresh crop of IDOL wannabes? Would they be truly participatory or merely just the window dressing in a desperate attempt to save the show?

Listen, we’ve only seen one episode. One highly edited episode. I don’t want to get too overzealous, but I really liked what I saw from these new judges last  night. Both Tyler and Lopez seemed genuinely excited not only to be part of the show, but to help find and develop future artists that hopefully will have a major impact on the music industry. Their presence seemed to breathe new life into the stale AMERICAN IDOL format.  Rather than coming from a negative place, both judges seemed to err on the side of positivity. It was refreshing.

Jennifer and Steven comforted contestants, gave fair and honest assessments of their talent, and when more harsh criticism was warranted, they delivered it with the kindness that comes from having been the one on the other side of the table at one point in their lives.

I’ll be honest, I was a bit more apprehensive about what Tyler was going to bring to the show than I was Lopez.  I feared that he was going to be the new “Paula” — slightly disconnected and sometimes incoherent, but I didn’t see that last night.  Not that he doesn’t have the potential to be a loose cannon, but he was much more present and articulate than I initially gave him credit for.  The Steven Tyler I saw last night was playful and passionate. Okay, he was borderline creepy with some of the young ladies that passed through the room, but hopefully that can be worked on.

As for La Lopez, she was her charming, beautiful self.  She comforted the contestants and helped them to relax. She put out the vibe that she wanted each and every singer to be great. And when they weren’t, she struggled to tell them so.   If Jennifer is going to be effective during the live show format, she’s going to have to get more comfortable giving honest criticism when it is warranted.  That being said, I’m really not at all concerned that Jennifer is going to be regulated to the role of the “nice” one. I have no doubt that she will critique honestly and effectively as the show continues on.

Randy Jackson rounds out the judges this season, and while we heard less “yo yo yo” and “dawgs” than we’ve had in the past, I still personally think he is taking up space at the table. Part of me was hoping that we would see a brand new Randy Jackson this season.  Without Simon Cowell’s shadow looming over him, I really hoped that Randy would emerge as the strong leader of the judging panel.  But what I saw last night was the same wishy-washy Randy I’ve seen since IDOL began.  I have to wonder if this guy has any confidence at all in his abilities, because he seems hesitant to speak until he knows the opinions of the other judges.  It’s almost as if he doesn’t have his own opinion on the talent or lack thereof before him.  Or rather he does have an opinion, but he doesn’t want to go out on a limb in case the other judges disagree. If Randy is just going to base his thoughts on what the other two judges had to say, then I’m glad he’s going last on the panel this season. Let’s give Jennifer and Steven more screen time to articulate their thoughts and less time for Randy to say “you know, I agree with the other judges on this one.” Boring!

As for the contestants…let’s face it, last night wasn’t about them.  But eventually it will be.

In the two hours, I was more than a little disappointed that we didn’t see more amazing talent come through.  There were a few folks that I am excited to hear more from in the competition, but on the whole there were very few that really grabbed my attention…in a good way.

My personal favorite of the night was actually the last contestant featured — Travis Orlando. His take on “Eleanor Rigby” and Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” was refreshing and flawless. His voice has the sweetest texture and he’s got an effortless cute hipster vibe to him. Can’t wait to see what he brings us in Hollywood Week.

Although a little less refined, I think Caleb Hawley has the potential to show us something down the line. His was a bit too warbly at times, but I’m hoping we can chock that up to nerves.  His voice was solid and grounded and he had a lot of energy. He needs help and hopefully IDOL will provide just that.

Devyn Rush, a singing waitress, certainly doesn’t look like the next American Idol, but she has the voice to get her far in this competition.  Her jazzy take on “God Bless the Child” was unexpected and refreshing. I’m not too worried about her look – just think of the physical transformation that Clay Aiken went through from his first IDOL audition until the finale.  Those IDOL hair and makeup folks know how to work some magic.

The rule change that allows 15-year-olds to audition has never sat well with me.  And I have an even bigger problem with it now since I have to keep hearing about how these kids were practically in utero when IDOL first began.  We get it…you’re young.

Victoria Huggins is young, bubbly and borderline obnoxious, yet her take on “Midnight Train to Georgia” had just enough sweetness to it that I wanted to immediately hear more from her.  She’s 16. She has a lot of room to grow as a performer. Maybe she could annoy the other contestants to the point that they all quit. Maybe that’s her ticket to IDOL fame.

I shudder to think of the weeks and weeks of auditions ahead of us before we start focusing in on the really great talent. There is plenty of time for us to talk talent, judges and if the changes IDOL made will make the impact the producers and Fox hope they will. Time will tell.

But let’s talk about last night.  Talk to me about Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and how you think they will fit into IDOL this season.  What about the talent you saw last night? Any standouts?

Interested to hear your take on the return of the powerhouse that is AMERICAN IDOL.

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One Response to “AMERICAN IDOL Season 10 Premiere Recap”

  1. Drew on January 20th, 2011 8:40 pm

    I think last night went fairly well. I agree that the judges seem to be able to handle everything that comes with that Coke cup, and no, I didn’t really sit there waiting for Simon to walk in. I do, however, think that if this had been the group of judges that launched the show, it wouldn’t be the phenomenon it is today.