American Idol, Season 10: Season Premiere

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 20 2011 1:29 AM

American Idol, Season 10: Season Premiere

Season 10 of the  new, supposedly improved   American Idol  kicked off tonight, with new judges Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler joining old dawg Randy Jackson. J.Lo. was beautiful, sweet, and entirely inoffensive. Tyler looks more and more like  Janice from the Muppets  with each passing minute, but I enjoyed the mild air of perviness he brought to the proceedings. 

Tonight's episode, the first half of the season premiere, took us through two days of auditions in New Jersey. (Tomorrow, the show heads to New Orleans; there will be several weeks of these massive group auditions before the pool is narrowed to 20 semifinalists in late February.)


There were the obligatory sob stories a flight from Kosovo; a youth spent in a wheelchair; a father stricken with throat cancer and legions of people with perfectly serviceable church-choir voices whose names I've already forgotten.

I had high hopes for  Paul Scheer  doppelganger Michael Perotto. I thought it was charming, in a  Napoleon Dynamite   kind of way, how the 19-year-old admitted that he burps when he's nervous and identifies with Randy because they both "used to be real heavy people." But sadly, it was not meant to be. "Did you eat a lot of paint chips as a child?" Steven Tyler asked, after hearing Perotto's burpy rendition of "Proud Mary."

No, the "Surprise! This unattractive person can sing!" slot tonight went to Tiffany Rios, who demonstrated proper hair-teasing technique and a deplorable fashion sense. (Tyler, on Rios's star-spangled bra: "What's with the jujubes on your ooh-ooh-bees?" That guy!) The show seemed to be setting Rios up as a deluded fool particularly when she started talking about she's been blessed with "a nice front and back area" but then she went pulled a Susan Boyle.

The two oddest auditions may not have achieved the dizzying cognitive overloads of " Pants on the Ground " or William Hung's "She-Bangs" (which I just can't bring myself to link to, because it breaks my heart), but they did approach a kind of performance art. Both featured foreigners with thick accents. (Sigh.) However, while the beautiful Achille Lovle made me supremely uncomfortable, I could watch Yoji "Pop" Asano's rendition of Miley Cyrus's "Party in the U.S.A." all day long. I think it's because he seems so above the whole process. "Oh me? I'm just doing my Michael Jackson thing over here. You want to watch me? Whatever."

Final thoughts: 16-year-old Victoria Huggins is kind of scary.* Her chirpiness seems like a cover for something very, very dark. And Travis Orlando, an adorable Bronx teenager with a hardscrabble past, seems well placed to be this season's breakout teenage dream. Judge for yourself:

Correction, Jan. 20, 2011:
This post originally misspelled Huggins's last name.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 16 2014 11:56 AM Iran and the U.S. Are Allies Against ISIS but Aren’t Ready to Admit It Yet
Business Insider
Sept. 16 2014 10:17 AM How Jack Ma Founded Alibaba
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 16 2014 8:00 AM The Wall Street Bombing: Low-Tech Terrorism in Prohibition-era New York
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Sept. 16 2014 12:05 PM Slim Pickings at the Network TV Bazaar Three talented actresses in three terrible shows.
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 12:01 PM More Than 3 Million Told the FCC What They Think About Net Neutrality. Why Hasn't Obama?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.