7:30 Pre-Idol show with past winners talking about their American Idol experience. It was not surprising to hear Lee admit that you might not be the best singer. Of all the past Idols featured, he was the one to get this line. David Cook reveals more about the real audition process, explaining how many times you have to interview before you get before the judges. Taylor Hicks said they kept checking his ID to make sure he wasn't past the age cut off and wondered where his kid who was auditioning was. Very cute. He also said that he was encouraged to "move around" a bit onstage. It worked for him.
7:36 We're back and we're now telling childhood stories. Kelly discovering her amazing range. Reuben Studdard's family talking about him constantly singing along to the TV -- which got on his brother's nerves. Fantasia ironically discusses how music makes her happy. Jordin sang with a tip cup when she was a little kid -- smart girl! Good advice from Keb' Mo': "Know who you are. You might fool around and get famous."
7:43 Conversation switches to your hometown and representing your home state.
7:46 Discussion turns to life after American Idol. Lee discusses working for charities relating to poverty in America. Ruben discusses raising money to bring music to public schools. Kris talks about doing a USO tour, playing for the troops and their families. Carrie does charity work for animals, opening a new shelter that will have a no-kill policy. How did Michael Vick not get this gig? Too soon?
7:50 Kelly Clarkson remembers being bombarded with suggestions about what she should do after the show, but says as a Texan she dug in and did what she wanted. Fantasia says the sky's the limit and she can do it all. Cook is coming out with a new record. Kelly admits winning gives you more leverage and an advantage that others don't have. The talk turns to American Idol as the American Dream, taking the kid next door and changing their life.
7:54 Life post-Idol as a performer. Seeing your name up in lights, being in bigger venues, traveling. More about American Idol making dreams come true. Going from playing tiny places to a huge crowd. The decision to try out for American Idol changed their entire lives. The message -- we did it, you can do it. And in four minutes, the next season will start and will lead to some other regular Joe having their life changed forever.
And now -- This is American Idol.
8:00 Changes afoot on American Idol. New Judges. Rumors, leaks, announcements. The new judges are introduced like the superstars two of them are. And then, back to what the show is supposedly about. The contestants. We begin with the pan of the thousands of hopefuls --125,00 in all -- lining up for the first of what they hope will be many auditions. Liking the highlights framing Steven Tyler's face. The face? Not so much.
Steven Tyler is looking for the next Janis Joplin? Did he miss last season?
JLo. is. gorgeous.
Randy's back. Thanks to who he was grouped with last year, he was the best of the bunch.
Teasers. We're already planning on watching. You don't need to tease us.
Bleached blonde hurting my ears. And eyes.
Hell yah. Jimmy Iovine and Universal Music Group are now running the music side of things. Wants to help these artists develop, get the best out of them. If that can stay the focus, and not the silliness, this may be a good show and a great platform for some new talent. If.
8:13 New Jersey is up first. Rachel Zevita had made it to Hollywood in Season 6, but was cut the first week. JLo remembers her (a then curly-headed opera singer). She got a modified Brazilian blowout and is going slightly less operatic, singing ? Hallelujah. I'm not a fan. She hits the high notes, but does not deliver on a song that should really convey emotion. Did Steven say he wants to water her flower? Is that allowed? The judges put her through based on her previous audition, not this relatively bland one. Look out for her, JLo says. Foreshadowing?
Look, it's Taylor Hicks' grandson. Caleb Hawley is a cute, bluesy sounding kid. Steven joined along, so you knew he was feeling it. Hopefully, he'll buy a hairbrush before Hollywood.
Kenzie Palmer is the first of the newly-allowed 15 years old. She goes to a performing arts school, where they apparently teach you to add extra syllables to every word as you sing. Then she asked if they wanted her to sing. What did she think she was auditioning for? Anyhoo, I'm with Steven and Randy, her voice was just fine, nothing great. She did sound older than 15, but there was nothing memorable or unique about her. She begs for their votes. I can do whatever you want me to do. Hmm, sounds familiar. She gets the votes.
We see three quick yeses, two identical girls and a guy who jump up and down, not knowing that their auditions didn't get on TV and if they make it to voting rounds, that may put them at a disadvantage. The next was, instead of the trainwreck that our Schadenfreude requires, a nice girl who can't sing but doesn't suck enough to be enjoyably bad. From what I can tell, one of the girls was Pia Toscana.
8:31 A little bit about New Jersey. Where is SNL's Governor Paterson when we need him? We're getting lessons on how to look like a Jersey girl. Ryan refuses to look at the girl's butt. Shocker.
Tiffany Rios is a Puerto Rican dance instructor who was inspired by JLo. In fact, she cries when she sees her. JLo comes over and gives her a hug. For the record, guys, cry when you meet JLo. She shows off her star covered headlights and sings ? an original song about how America needs me for higher ratings on tv. She says she has three things to offer, but she's wrong. Her body's just so-so, but I like her voice. They tell her to focus on her voice if she wants to be taken seriously. And she gets three yeses.
Okay, put the dogs out. They shouldn't hear this. Ouch, the parade of the sucky singers has begun.
More advice for the gentlemen out there. JLo apparently has trouble saying no.
Finally, a woman sings so awfully, painfully, extraordinarily bad that even JLo has to say no way.
Robbie Rosen has our first sob story, part of a childhood spent in a wheelchair as a result of some condition I hadn't heard of before. This means we'll be seeing more of Robbie. His medical condition improved and he's fine now, and all of 16 and "waiting to do this since he was 7." He sings Yesterday, "by the Beatles." So glad he clarified that. But, snarkiness aside, he's got a really nice voice. If he stays away from unnecessary vocal gymnastics, his only a mother could love it face may be on our TV for some time. He made JLo squeal.
8:48 Filler. Which judge do you want to meet the most? Girls with crushes on Steven Tyler, Tyler crushing on some girls. Where's the Millionaire Matchmaker when we need her?
Chris Cordeiro, a boy scout. Not yet an eagle scout. His message, don't text and drive. Chris, the boy scout uniform does not work on the ladies. Just saying. He doesn't seem to get that the hat is not working either. He butchers Frank Sinatra and gives the judges an easy opening with "and now the end is near" which immediately wins agreement. Goodbye, Chris. Better luck with the anti-texting and driving message. You might not be the next American Idol, but you could maybe save a life! Did you notice, his mom has a nice voice?
8:58 Loser montage. Burp montage. Followed by dumpy guy audition. Rather hear him burp some more.
"Did you eat a lot of paint chips as a child?" Funny, but my questions is original or prescripted? Discuss.
Spending way too much time with this one.
Ashley Sullivan lives in Springfield Mass and works at the mall. She wants to be the next Britney Spears. Someone hold me, I'm scared. She wants everyone to hear her sing for three minutes. She's singing Broadway, not Britney. And she doesn't suck. Get her on Glee. She knows herself, she wants to be the first showtune popstar, a current Liza Minelli. She cries, but it's still a no from Randy. But her tears turn the newbies around, and she's going to Hollywood!
Victoria Huggins has been waiting forever, y'all, for her to be 16 so she could try out for American Idol. She videotapes every moment in her life to document her life. The North Carolina cutie sings Midnight Train to Georgia. And she's got the chops. She sings with an accent, so if they're looking for a young, cute, female country artist who hasn't dated everyone in town already, bingo! Move over Taylor Swift. Victoria "Yo Yo Dawg" is in the house. Too precocious? Maybe. But, c'mon, you gotta love her.
Okay, hanky time. Kosovo refugees talking about having to leave their homeland, but being fortunate enough to win the green card lottery. They've won their golden ticket, now their daughter is vying for her own to Hollywood. Melinda Ademi can sing. And she's cute. Just how many cute female singers are there? Steven calls her pretty and beautiful, yes. Randy says she has potential, yes. JLo says you're in.
9:23 And, we're back.
Devyn Rush is a singing waitress at Ellen's Stardust Diner. She sings God Bless the Child, then scats a bit. She thinks she's all that and a bag of chips and the judges' reaction will only reinforce her exalted opinion she has of herself. Soon, she'll be smacked down to reality. It's not the right sound for the radio. I think they were overcome with the song and the volume, but not the tone of her voice.
Are they casting for Deliverance? That guy's a shoe-in. Love hearing the Monkees, but, no.
Big intro. Probably, crash and burn time. Michael Jackson imitator, since before he was born. Okie dokie, then. Yoji "Pop" Asano takes on Party in the USA, singing it -- and I didn't know this was possible -- worse than Miley Cyrus. He dances better than Miley, if that's any consolation. Then we have a painful montage of other contestants butchering (save for a couple nailing) the song.
9:42 Some intentionally bad singing.
Brielle Von Hugel comes to the audition with her dad who is successfully battling throat cancer. She has a good, strong voice and her dad gets to come in the room to get the good news! I really liked her voice, no theatrics, no "look at me," just a solid, powerful voice. They're awash in good news and much celebrating ensues. A nice story.
Last up, Travis Orlando. He grew up around violence and lived in a shelter in the Bronx. He has a twin brother. Maybe his brother can sing? Because he's butchering Eleanor Rigby which he also was good enough to tell us was by The Beatles. They ask him to sing another song and he brings out, Jason Mraz. This is better. His quirky voice works better in a song without a straight melody. So, it's three yeses and we're done with the first episode of the new season.
51 Golden Tickets were handed out in New Jersey. Tomorrow is New Orleans. You're on your own. This was fun, but I have other plans, y'all. So, feel free to let me know what you think about tonight and tomorrow night in the comment section.