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Posted at 11:35 PM ET, 01/20/2011

'American Idol' 10th season premiere continues in New Orleans

By Lisa de Moraes

Once upon a time, struggling young music artists who were not feeling quite themselves sat down at a piano and interpreted a work by one of those Russian composers nature had provided for this purpose. These days, wannabe Idolettes, whose auditions have gone badly, sit down at a piano and shred the Charlie Chaplin tune, "Smile," for the TV camera.

The new "Idol" judges take on a second night of auditions. (Fox)

Like Blake Patterson, who, "Idol" wants to make perfectly clear as Blake gnashes and gnaws at this lovely tune, "won't be going to Hollywood."

Thank you, "American Idol."

Tonight, "Idol" returns to New Orleans, which sole surviving "Idol" judge Randy Jackson warns had better not disappoint "The Dawg" using up one of the two-dawg-per-night allowance we have decided to impose on him this season.

Because it's New Orleans, new judge and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler is wearing a goofy little hat. Mostly so he can look impishly at the camera and say, "You know what they say about a little hat. It's good for a little [bleep]!"

Yes, we get it -- being bleeped is going to be his shtick on "Idol" -- how he will manage to do this gig while hanging on to his Aerosmith cred.

Jennifer Lopez, the show's other new judge, knows she has to walk a fine line. On the one hand, she fancies herself quite the fashionista. On the other hand, she doesn't want to be dismissed as one of those insensitive Paris Hilton types who flaunt their wealth and wardrobes, while millions of Americans have to cut back and make hard choices in these tough economic times. Jennifer too has decided to cut back, on the number of sleeves on her red blouse, and has made the hard choice to wear only the left one.

Jordan Dorcey is an excellent piano teacher. His adorable 6-year-old star pupil says so.

Randy "dawgs" him. We're cutting Randy off now.

Jordan sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Asking "Idol" viewers to sit through another rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is like asking the piano player in a hotel lounge, "'Can you sing that song from 'Phantom'?" The piano player is going to tell you to buzz off because 35 people have already asked him that tonight. We have heard "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" sung in "Idol" auditions so many times we want to throw our ruby slippers at Jordan.

Oh wait. He's okay.

"Stop, stop, stop!" shrieks JLo. "You know why?" she asks.

No, why, JLo? And please don't tell us it's because you want him to sing that song from "Phantom," instead.

"Because I have goose bumps all over my body," JLo coos.

After the commercial break, "Idol" producers cue up the Mighty Mississippi clich├ęs: gators, adorable piglet-like creatures running away from gators, adorable old man explaining it's called "Nawleens."

Contestant Najsha Palmer, a 21-year-old clerk, murders some tune.

"Wow, if it wasn't for all that!" Tyler observes wryly of her performance.

Have we mentioned yet that Tyler is the best thing that's happened to "Idol" in ages?

Another singer butchers the '40's Mack Gordon/ Harry Warren song, "At Last."

Finally, Sarah Sellers auditions. Tyler is in love with her lush lips. "You had me sold the second you laid eyes on me," Tyler purrs.

Even Randy is confused.

"You'll get it later," Tyler snaps. Sarah's through to Hollywood.

JLo is a "goddess" in the eyes of Jovany Barreto, because she married his idol, Marc Anthony.

"The guy is the best on earth -- I'm sorry -- hands down," Jovany proclaims as if daring someone to contradict him.

He sings well. He also tells JLo that, while "without a doubt" Randy and Steven are both "da bomb," he has been watching JLo since -- he puts his hand down low to suggest since he was very, very young when he started, which would make her rather old. This appears not to occur to him and he continues trying to seduce the wife of his idol:

"You are a goddess in my eyes," he says.

"You have a very powerful voice," JLo responds, returning the compliment. She also has nice things to say about his whisper. Tyler, who's liking where this is going, chimes in with, "for my melodic sensibility ... I thought it was delicious." It's getting creepy.

All three give Jovany a big thumbs up. Jovany is so overcome with gratitude, he begins to strip from the waist up. "This is for you, Jennifer. Sorry, Marc -- I love you." We should probably mention here that Jovany has been working out.

Randy and Steven join Jovany on the little audition stage.

"Wait! Just let him do his thing!" JLo begs.

Too late. As Jovany takes off the last layer, the two judges pull up their shirts, exposing their chests.

"You couldn't just let me have my show," JLo whines at Randy and Steven.

Jacquelyn Dupress is related to Randy's old football coach and has brought coach along as a sort of "American Idol" show and tell. Unless she's completely tone deaf, this means she's going to Hollywood.

She is not completely tone deaf.

Red-headed Bret Loewenstern says he would describe himself as "a red apple in a pile of green apples." When he was growing up, people bullied him, calling him a dork and a geek, he says.

Tyler wonders how Bret gets his wavy long hair to look so good. Bret explains his hair treatment regimen. Then he sings "Bohemian Rhapsody." He's very good.

"Wow, wow, wow! Two goose pimples and it's still morning!" JLo marvels. After which Tyler raves, "You were fabulous!" about the geeky red-headed teenager who got bullied as a child -- and if that's not an episode of "Glee," I don't know what is.

Bret blows kisses in the judges' direction and exits.

"First of all, his hair was very well conditioned," JLo notes as Bret leaves the room.

"You know what you have -- Mick Jagger's mouth, and I know him well," Tyler tells the next auditioner, Gabriel Franks.

It's true. Unfortunately, he also has the personality of Ed Grimley, and, as he sings, his eyes roll back in his head. Tyler commends him for his energy and sends him on his way.

Time for a medley of bad auditions, highlighted by a performance from some guy in a sequined hat and vest, who raps like Eminem in a gale.

And here comes a cute, chubby 15-year-old who looks 12. We're expecting Jacee Badeaux to be less than great, and, of course, he's terrific, singing the Otis Redding classic, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." He's like a young Wayne Newton, only without the scary. He's also Hollywood bound.

The sun is starting to set. Time to bring out the sad story of the night.

Paris Tassin was 19 when she got pregnant and the doctors told her that her baby had some polysyllabic condition that she might not survive. But Paris went ahead and had her baby, who has a hearing loss. She wears hearing aids and is otherwise a "very healthy baby," Paris tells the camera.

"I'm a mom to a special-needs child," she introduces herself to the judges. She sings the Carrie Underwood tune, "Temporary Home" well. JLo tears up.

"When you sang, I felt it," JLo emotes. "It brought tears to my eyes, and that's the first time it's happened -- today," JLo adds, somewhat anticlimactically.

"I love to sing. Oh, I love to sing. It is my dream," Paris replies, choking up.

The judges are no match for Paris.

"Yes," JLo whispers dramatically. The other two concur.

Outside the audition room, the judges run into Paris holding her daughter. JLo walks over in her designer trench coat over her one-sleeved Hard Choices Blouse, and gives Paris and daughter the briefest of hugs.

By Lisa de Moraes  | January 20, 2011; 11:35 PM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Your sarcasm aside, I think this season of Idol is shaping up really well!! J Lo and Steven Tyler are surprisingly good in their new roles.

Posted by: KatieAtl | January 21, 2011 1:49 AM | Report abuse

Your sarcasm is tiring... Your analysis of the show is over done. After watching "Idol" for the past ten seasons, i got to say that I like this new season. Jennifer is great at her new role as is Steven Tyler. I don't think that i would miss the old format at all!

Posted by: JLao74 | January 21, 2011 3:12 AM | Report abuse

We like this trio better. They'll get the hang of it. I noticed J.Lo is already nudging herself to speak up about negative issues too. She's beautiful, talented, and has great fashion sense. Her clothing choices are appropriate, and can be a positive incentive at the auditions (she wasn't born rich). I don't think she skimped on the duration of her hug for Paris and her daughter (I counted two seconds). It's meant as a gesture of caring and good will, while acknowledging they've just met, and the two recipientS might feel uncomfortable w/ a bear-sized hug.

Posted by: Claravista | January 21, 2011 4:25 AM | Report abuse

Enjoy free samples of the newest brands and latest products, search online for "123 Get Samples" you do not need CC.

Posted by: marypeter21 | January 21, 2011 5:36 AM | Report abuse

I think Idol has hit a home run with the new judges, AND I think this is one of the funniest pieces I've read in YEARS! It's amusing how seriously some folks take it, though.

"Hard Choices Blouse?" Pitch-perfect.

Posted by: kemp13 | January 21, 2011 8:46 AM | Report abuse

We are completely turned off by IDOL this year after we saw Steven Tyler make sexual innuendos toward a 16 year old girl. Sick, sick sick. He should be kicked of the set.

Posted by: txengr | January 21, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

OK is it me or is Randy happIER to have a fellow dawg Stevn Tyler...A REAL MUSICIAN on the panel. They seem to be having a blast. I still think J Lo is pointless but she fills the cute Latino CAN'T sing but can dance requirement hahahaha Funny ppl keep saying to her "You're so beautiful BUT never your music was so awesome hahahaha"

Why does it seem the best are singing country (those chicks were crisp!!!) or teens singing Beetles, or old skool R&B (teen sing Dock of the Bay was excellent)

Posted by: MDlady2 | January 21, 2011 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I miss Simon because he was stunningly honest with the contestants, which somebody has to do, because to lead them on is setting some of them up for a big fall.

You can see from the auditions that a lot of these contestants with no talent actually think they do.

Posted by: janet8 | January 21, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes Lisa is fun to read, but her constant snarky approach gets old. She is trying too hard to be clever. I guess there is an audience for her pissy attitude toward Idol, but sometimes it is a little too much. The reality, Idol is a profitable venture, and some successful entertainers come out of it. It's all business, baby. Lisa is in the same kind of business. Entertain a limited audience and feel like what you do matters.

Posted by: clarkesq | January 21, 2011 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I miss Simon and his Botoxed face and hairy chest in too-low v-necks, all of which covered up some obvious insecurities.

Posted by: playahatah | January 21, 2011 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back -- love this blog -- watching Idol wouldn't be as much fun without being able to read Lisa's take on it and the readers' comments the next day. I agree that so far Steven Tyler has been great! As for J-Lo, I think she's a big improvement over her predecessors -- I got tired of Paula Abdul's rambling and Kara's hipster cliches.

As for the Simonless Idol, well, last year he was just phoning it in. Also, over the years what bothered me about him was that he clearly had a specific and to my mind narrow vision of what he was looking for which was the most obviously commercial and conventional. This seemed to get more pronounced as the show went on. Steven Tyler has a very different orientation, which I'm enjoying.

If I'm not mistaken, it also seems like there's a subtle change in what they're showing us in the auditions -- shorter segments given to losers and bad singers, more time to people who actually have some talent. If the 1st show didn't get the ratings of past years I think it's a combination of how lackluster last season was and because a lot of people feel like they've seen Idol auditions before and they don't want to watch a bunch of bad singers and sob stories, but they'll tune in for the beginning of the actual competition.

Posted by: owingsmills | January 21, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

After about 10 minutes and 3 commercials, I switched the channel. Sooooooo boring and, obviously, very expensive to produce.

Posted by: mikie44 | January 21, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Who could even look at the Steve Tyler guy. How much work has he had done? Is he a martian?

Even aside from all that, who could watch this dreck?

Posted by: password11 | January 21, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I like this new judges team. Can't wait until Hollywood....and yes, the writer is being very sarcastic and unfair.

Posted by: Chicago48 | January 21, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

JLO's a blathering idiot behaving like she's 13. Get a grip, lady, and learn how to make a decision...and make it fast and surgical. If a person can't perform during the first round, they won't get any better at the 2nd and 3rd rounds. The show's obviously not packaged for me and I certainly don't want my children to take lessons in 'adult' behavior from either JLO or Tyler. Simon was at least serious about finding marketable talent.

Posted by: dnickell | January 21, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

That one 15 yr old kid was great, we called him "Justin Blubber"...

Posted by: ozpunk | January 21, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

1. Yes, I noticed that Randy is much happier being able to bond with Tyler. 2. Yes, I heard the remark Steven Tyler made about the "backside" of the 16-year old female contestant (Randy hesitated on his 'high five' -he KNEW it wasn't appropriate). 3. Lisa, when you get tired of your sarcasm, would you like to try some actual reporting? 4. By removing the record executive from the auditioning table, contestants aren't singing to just one person; honestly, is your goal in life to have Tyler, Lopez or Jackson say how incredibly BAD you are as a singer?.

Posted by: mukazzi | January 21, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

After they get to the semi-finals, there's nothing to watch. I've never ever watched the show after the initial train-wreck episodes where Simon was so great with his deadpan. The ONLY entertainment value was the awkward and awful contestants. The show has no true value after that because we already have hit music talent, it's already on the radio and with the world's archives at our fingertips, there's nothing truly remarkable about any of the "good" singers. In that regard "bands" is a better concept. And face it, the show otherwise and without Simon is something you expect to see on the CW or whatever on Saturdays mid-day.

Posted by: NovaMike | January 21, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Blog was fine. I thought Lisa was as loving and nurturing as our new judges. Well maybe not quite, but she did mention what a breathe of fresh air Mr. Tyler is. As far as the hug at the end debate.... I saw the young mother sort of pull away when JLO first approached. It looked like she wanted to hold the baby, but moma was not going to let go. This season so far is way more fun. Blog on blogger lady Lisa!

Posted by: popsharris | January 21, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I am the only one who finds Tyler to be a sick joke? I love Lisa's morning-after coverage and hope she was being sarcastic in her praise for the screeching cryptkeeper. I guess Ed Rendell was right, we are becoming a nation of wussies if most viewers were pining for a panel of judges who wave through all but the most obviously untalented. The drama used to involve listening to someone who you thought may have talent and see if the judges (i.e., Simon) agreed. Now it's just a lovefest. The only positive is perhaps a new drinking game that's activated every time Tyler screeches, leers or otherwise pretends he's 26 not 62. What an embarassment.

Posted by: rkrisher | January 21, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Tyler, the new Paula, but with moments of clarity that enable actual criticism. Loved his singing along with a contestant and then switching over. "No, this isn't for you."

And anything that gets more Aerosmith on the radio is A Good Thing. Good thing teens don't listen to radio any more.

Posted by: WorstSeat | January 23, 2011 10:03 PM | Report abuse

I am disappointed that you didn't mention that at the end when Jennifer Lopez comes out and says goodbye to Paris, she whispers to Paris' daughter that her mommy did a great job. Problem is, the whole reason we know about Paris' daughter is because she was born with hearing disabilities making the likelihood that she was understood zero. I was left rolling on the floor laughing and wondering how you were going to jump all over this! Still, I love your work.

Posted by: damone13831 | January 23, 2011 11:19 PM | Report abuse

I enjoyed the new Idol a lot. Tyler grew on me pretty quickly (yes, he's a dirty old rocker man, so what), JLo just reminds me of the early days of Paula, and Randy does seem to be a bit happier.

The contestants were pretty much good, or not so good. They kept the joke contestants to a minimum, which is good cuz the last few years I got really, really tired of the whole "joke's on you, *** for brains who can't sing" meanness of the auditions.

Perhaps Idol has grown up, after all. We'll have to see. (Wonder how it would have been if the judges were Tyler + JLo + Simon?)

Posted by: lanehatcher | January 24, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

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