It’s Season 10 of ‘American Idol’ and I know all the tricks. I know all the contestant personality types. I can see quickly from an audition which contestants will make it to Hollywood, which ones will be mocked in a montage, and which will make it to the top group only to crash and burn on a Whitney Houston or Stevie Wonder song. This season has started out looking like much of the same old Fox battle horse, but we’ve got some new judges, and I’m sure they have some new torture in mind for the contestants.
The big change this year is clearly the judging panel. Paula and Simon are out – Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are in. Randy Jackson is still there, but now seems like odd man out. I was definitely bummed about Paula and Simon leaving, but really Simon phoned it in last season and Paula had sobered up, so they weren’t half as much fun. I think they tried to replace Paula with the drug-addled sound bytes from Steven and the personability and fashion from J.Lo. What’s now missing is the harshness of Simon, although Steven does appear to have Simon’s lecherous inappropriate behavior towards the young girls.
The first episodes are always the auditions, which I definitely find tedious. In Week One, we saw all the standard stuff – cringeworthy performances, tone-deafness, dumb outfits, celebrity worship, sappy stories about young mothers and blue-collar laborers with good voices. (Notice I say “good,” not great.) But there are also a few glimpses of great potential, which at the end of the day is why I still watch. However, the show really doesn’t give us much time with the people going on to Hollywood, so it’s difficult to say who really might stand out. My favorite thus far is the young, red-headed, Mark-Bolen-looking, bullied kid.
Also, it’s clear that the judges need some more backbone to tell it like it is. Only twice did I see the hammer go down. Once was from Steven Tyler with the comment, “Did you chew paint when you were a kid?” That wasn’t really constructive, just mean. The other was from Randy, when he told the kid who went to Idol Summer Camp that his performance was bad, really bad. There were a number of questionables that the judges were overly excited about, so I’m curious if we’re going to have 300 people at Hollywood week, followed by an absolutely crazy group day where they get rid of half of them.
As jaded as my comments are, and as frustrated as I get with all the crap the show makes us endure, I still love ‘Idol’. I have watched from Season One, and I can’t think of another show, save Red Sox Baseball, that I’ve spent more hours obsessing over. Hopefully, the weeks of auditions will go quickly and then we’ll be on to the real singing.