In addition to checking out new “Idol” judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, there was another good reason to tune in Thursday for the New Orleans auditions broadcast: 15-year-old Jacee Badeaux. This pudgy, unassuming kid sang a soothing version of “(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay,” and immediately marked himself as one to watch. Steven Tyler even gave him a yes, “with a double helping of ooh yeah.”

Speaking of Tyler, he’s definitely the new Simon in that you look forward to hearing what’s going to come out of his mouth -- but in Tyler’s case, it’s because he’s just so darn strange. For example, when contestant Jovany Barreto, 23, serenaded Jennifer Lopez in Spanish, Tyler responded, “From my melodic sensibility that was very delicious.” As we said last night, what???

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Tyler and Randy then jumped on stage with Jovany to flash their abs (or in Randy’s case, lack thereof) at Lopez. In case you haven’t noticed, fawning over J-Lo’s looks is a big part of the new “American Idol.”

J-Lo herself is being branded as the “sensitive” judge, so it was no surprise when she cried over a mom who decided to give birth to a special needs child. (The mom, 23-year-old Paris Tassin, also did a nice job with Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home,” earning her a ticket to Hollywood.)

One contestant we did NOT expect to make it through was 16-year-old Brett Loewenstern. Sporting a huge mane of curly red hair, Brett explained that he’s been picked on since third grade, and that he always felt like a “red apple in a pile of green apples.” We’re glad Brett’s feeling better about himself these days, but we felt like he got through more for his hair conditioning tips than his “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

VIDEO: See “Idol” hopefuls audition in New Orleans.

There were a few other hits and misses, but all roads somehow led to Steven Tyler’s lips. A mouthy contestant named Gabriel massacred Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance," but sparked a debate about whether he resembles Tyler or Mick Jagger (“Jagger is often mistaken for me,” Tyler quipped). Sarah Sellers, 28, did a nice job with Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” but Tyler mainly wanted to know, “Where did you get those lips?”

We get it. Tyler’s lips are going to be a big theme this season, along with J-Lo’s legs and Randy’s belly. But next week, we’d also like to see a few more contestants that have any shot whatsoever at making the Top 12.

--Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman, POPNEWSWIRE