After all the hype about the "new" era of "American Idol," the season premiere of Season 10 was pretty much just like the season premiere of Season 9.
There were the same weirdos (the guy who burps when he's nervous), the same wannabes (the Britney fanatic), the same sob stories (enter triumph over tragedy here), even the same songs ("Hallelujah" yet again) -- pretty much the same everything.
One major change: These judges "aren't in the business of crushing spirits," as Jennifer Lopez put it. But here's one pleasant surprise -- they were a lot funnier than we thought they would be. Especially Steven Tyler. While the Aerosmith frontman doesn't have Cowell's frosty wit, he is pretty outrageous. His best line of the night, in response to one contestant: "Well hellfire, save matches, f--- a duck, and see what happens." What??
He also has something that Cowell didn't have -- he's fun. Tyler's love of music came through again and again, and he often couldn't resist singing along or pounding on the table. Guess that's why he fronted the best-selling American rock band in history.
The "Idol" judging panel also has something else it never had before -- a bona fide sex symbol. Between the hair, the makeup, the clothes and the jewels, you can't take your eyes off of Jennifer Lopez (even if you find her tinny little-girl voice kind of annoying). Even Randy took a peek at her legs, which Tyler was kind enough to point out.
Which brings us to another point about Tyler -- he's a dog. Not "the dog" like Randy -- a "dog," as in a pig. Tyler loves the ladies, and the ladies -- most young enough to be his granddaughters -- love him right back. At 62, he had no problem pointing out that a super-wholesome 16-year-old was showing "just the right amount" of leg.
One major criticism: More so than the judges of yore, this panel seems a little too willing to send the freaks to Hollyweird -- most notably Tiffany Morris, a well-endowed dance teacher who literally let it all hang out while singing about how America needs her for "higher ratings on TV." But Tyler made up for it by addressing the dangling stars on her skimpy bikini top, asking, "What's with the jujubes on your hoo hoo bes?"
As Ryan Seacrest pointed out early in the show, this isn't a story about the judges, it's a story about YOU, America. And of all the 51 contestants who made it through New Jersey, only one really made a lasting impression on us -- 16-year-old Travis of the Bronx. He has the sad back story (grew up surrounded by gangs, drugs and violence, lived in a shelter until recently), looks clean, hip and marketable and did a good, understated job with the Beatles and Jason Mraz.
But we kind of wished Simon were there to point out, "If you're so poor, why do you look like you're wearing designer eyeglasses?"
--Jennifer D'Angelo Friedman, POPNEWSWIRE