“American Idol” made its somewhat revamped return with the excessively-hyped Season 10 premiere on Wednesday night and I am pleased to report that overall, I found it to be mildly entertaining!
A self-proclaimed “Idol” purist, I watched the show’s first season, shrieking and rooting for Kelly Clarkson, and I may or may not have cried when she won.
I was thrilled when the game-changing reality series returned for Season 2. Clay Aiken’s perfectly-pitched vocals had me glued to the screen yet again.
However, when Clay lost to Ruben Studdard, the show lost me. I attempted to get back on board the “Idol” train numerous times during the ensuing seven seasons, but repeatedly lost interest as the show dissolved into a parody of itself.
Paula Abdul’s praise went from something like, “You are amazing and have a beautiful spirit,” to pearls of nonsensical faux-wisdom like, “You are like a bird, sitting on a stone near a waterfall, who sees the beauty of the trees from within,” — all the while delivering big, exaggerated seal-who-wants-a-fish claps.
Simon Cowell’s commentary went from harsh-but-helpful critiques like, “You’re good, but you’ve got to get rid of that mullet,” to, “You look like the orphaned child of an ugly stick.”
And the AUDITIONS – the unbelievably staged auditions (William Hung, anyone?)! I just couldn’t take it anymore.
That said, with the addition of Latina goddess Jennifer Lopez to the judges’ table, I cautiously crept back for more.
Wednesday’s Season 10 premiere kicked off with the sound of a heart beating (because it’s that exciting, obviously) set to a montage of various news outlets reporting upcoming changeups on the “Idol” front. Next came the sweeping shots of a wild crowd, complete with women crying as new judges Steven Tyler and J.Lo were announced.
After the obligatory introductory packages showcasing judges Randy Jackson, Steven and Jennifer, the evening began with a bang when Steven delivered his first critique of the night in the form of … a poem.
“Well, hell fire, save matches, f**k a duck and see what hatches,” the Aerosmith frontman responded, after an ear-piercing country performance by an unnamed blond male.
“F**k a duck”?!? If this is any indication as to how Season 10 will play out, I quit.
Following the aforementioned teaser, the judges headed to Snooki and DJ Pauly D’s stomping grounds for their first rounds of auditions in New Jersey.
Season 4 semi-finalist-turned-Broadway thesp Constantine Maroulis — remember him? No? Most folks don’t! — was on hand to introduce the Garden State, complete with crowds of would-be “Idols” delivering “Jersey-isms,” such as, “How YOU doin’?” and “OHHHH!” Very original.
21-year-old Puerto Rican dance instructor Tiffany Rios made the first memorable entrance when she stormed the stage wearing a zebra bikini top (embellished with large silver stars on each, ummm, upper body attraction).
Before performing an original song about why she deserves to be a reality star, the boisterous brunette gave a tutorial on proper New Jersey grooming – AKA hair teasing. Tiffany was moved to tears upon seeing her “inspiration,” Jennifer, in person. After many tears and hugs from the famous diva, Steven wanted to know, “What’s with the joojoobees on your oohoohbees?” Wow.
Following a second chance from the judges, Tiffany delivered a more vocally promising — yet uniquely worded — version of Celine Dion’s “Power of Love.” Tiffany was sent to Hollywood.
A montage of talented aspiring singers followed before the show quickly headed back to its patented formula with dozens of television trainwrecks!
First up, Chris Cordeiro. An 18-year-old Boy Scout with a straw-hat topped bowl-cut, Chris horrified the judges by murdering Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” Sacrilege! My soul winced with pain for Ole’ Blue Eyes.
Next came Michael Perotto, the burp guy. Yes, I’m serious. After belching repeatedly, Michael “sang” Ike and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” (complete with percussion enhancements courtesy of Steven banging on a table), before J.Lo cut him off with a quick “Make it stop!”
Then there was Yoji “Pop” Asano, who was, by far, my favorite trainwreck. Rocking grey skinny jeans, white eye shadow, a shiny gold jacket and a thick Japanese accent, Yoji delivered his best Miley Cyrus impression, belting the teen queen’s hit, “Party in the USA,” while performing classic Michael Jackson dance moves.
It’s well worth two hours of your life to see Yoji “pop”-- trust me.
For energetic “Idol” hopeful Ashley Sullivan, begging was the “golden ticket” to La La Land. The 25-year-old Britney Spears devotee burst into tears, then dissolved into a fit of frenzied begging after being denied a chance to continue to the next round. It worked – Jennifer and Steven caved, while Randy called them “insane.”
In true reality TV fashion, tonight’s premiere also brought the drama by showcasing contestants who’ve overcome seemingly insurmountable odds for the chance to be America’s next “Idol.”
Robbie Rosen of Merrick, New York was born with a disease that forced him to spend his early years bound to a wheelchair. Now 16 — and with a voice reminiscent of “Glee’s” Matthew Morrison — Robbie is wheelchair-free and wowed the judges with his touching version of John Lennon’s “Yesterday.”
Melinda Ademi, a Yonkers native with war refugee parents from Kosovo, showed she had a voice as moving as her story. She impressed the judges with soulful her version of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.”
Both Robbie and Melinda are headed to Hollywood.
All in all, with numerous promising contestants and a plethora of biographies that will tug at your heartstrings, Season 10 is off to a rousing start.
Jennifer Lopez breathes feisty fresh air into the tired hit and Steven Tyler brings just enough “crazy” to keep America entertained.
AH Nation Poll: Who stole the show on “Idol’s” season premiere? Click HERE to vote!
Tune in to get your “Idol” fix as the auditions continue on Thursday at 8 PM on FOX.