'American Idol' 2011 Premiere Recap
by Hilary Rothing, posted Jan 19th 2011 10:45PM
Come one, come all! Bring your tone deaf, your off key, and of course your pitchy, and open up the floodgates, cuz everyone's getting' in! At least while J.Lo and Steven Tyler are on watch on 'American Idol, there's literally no accounting for talent, with just about everyone who opened their mouth getting a ticket to Hollywood.
The highly anticipated Season 10 premiere opened with the usual fanfare. Ryan Seacrest let us know that 125,000 people auditioned this season for the chance to defy a whole new blend of rejection courtesy of the Jennifer Lopez/Randy Jackson/Steven Tyler trio.
And just in case you didn't know it, Tyler and Lopez are bona fide superstars. Tyler has sold 150 million albums as the lead singer of the legendary rock band Aerosmith, while J.Lo has pushed something like 55 million.
While Tyler stated early on that his mission this season was to find the next Janis Joplin (didn't we already get that in Crystal Bowersox?), judging from both his and J.Lo's alarming lenience with the offerings at New Jersey's Meadowlands arena, it appears he's willing to settle for karaoke night at campus quad. Not to hate on our neighbors from New Jersey, but I have a feeling this season will not give us our first Northeast winner.
It's a bit too early to weigh in heavily on the chemistry between the newly established power trio, but I wouldn't say there was magic in the air between them. While Randy was his usual, wishy-washy self, Steven spent more time drumming along on the desk to the worst of the lot than passing judgment, while J.Lo was clearly the pushover.
Of course, we need to give these two some time to adjust to the gig. The pair are already colored by their own fabled legacies (Jennifer's infamous diva rep and Steven's notorious antics, both on and off stage). And with 'Idol' icons Simon and Paula both gone, fans and critics started painting the two in the roles of their predecessors early on.
In particular, early comparisons were made between Steven and Paula, which the Aerosmith vocalist responded to in an interview with Howard Stern yesterday. So did he fulfill the prophecy?
Judging by tonight's appearance, not quite. Tyler definitely brings a fresh, flirty (with little accounting for age in the case of a few young contestants) flavor to the judges' panel, which I don't think we've had before. Whether or not it deteriorates into the kind of incoherence Paula was known for remains to be seen.
In J.Lo's case, it seems she's bent on not being seen as the Simon replacement, going easy on a number of subpar contestants. In particular, girls who cried/pleaded/said J.Lo was their idol, got a pass. It's clear that Randy is more than capable of making the tough calls and taking the heat as 'Idol's new resident heel.
As for the prospects out of this first round of auditions, there was neither a Larry "Pants on the Ground" Platt nor Adam Lambert among the bunch.
The night's first contestant, Rachel Zevita came back for another shot at wowing Lopez, who she had auditioned for in Season 6. While she didn't blow it out of the water with her rendition of 'Hallelujah,' Lopez gave her a pass and Steven and Randy followed suit.
While J.Lo and Steven were particularly forgiving, there were a number of contestants that even these two softies couldn't let through. Achille Lovle attributed her bass-y rendition of Madonna's 'Dress You Up' to her accent, but J.Lo wasn't buying the excuse. Lovle may not have made it to Hollywood, but she's definitely scored a first class ticket to YouTube.
Aside from laughable water cooler moments, the night also offered up the usual sentimental sob stories. New Jerseyite Robby Rosen recalled growing up in a wheelchair before belting out a pretty decent rendition of the Beatles' 'Yesterday.' He just may have been the best of the lot.
Among the other heart-tugging moments of the evening were a young girl whose parents escaped a life of poverty in their native Kosovo and a teenage girl whose father recently battled throat cancer.
And then there was the Japanese guy who's been impersonating Michael Jackson "since before he was born." He took at stab at Miley Cyrus' 'Party in the USA' and I mean "stab" in the most literal sense of the word. And no, he didn't make it to Hollywood.
Now that they've cut their teeth on the first, mostly sorry, lot of contestants, let's hope J.Lo and Steven have their knives sharpened for tomorrow night's round or we're in for one hell of a Hollywood trip.
The ratings are in for last night's premiere and 'Idol' ruled the evening, with Nielsen overnights showing a 16.4 national rating. Though down 11 percent from last season, 'Idol' pulled in more than double the eyeballs of its biggest competitior, CBS, according to MediaWeek's Marc Beman. Last year's premiere saw a 9 percent decline from the season before. More later as the final numbers firm up.
|Too easy on contestants||16728 (74.9%)|
|Overly critical||89 (0.4%)|
|Right on point||5522 (24.7%)|
|Yes, he's got Paula potential||1597 (7.5%)|
|No, he's his own brand of crazy||19769 (92.5%)|
|Too early to tell||8005 (33.2%)|