American Idol Season 10 Premiere Recap: These Kids Are All Right!

If you’ve turned on a television since the end of the Holiday Eating Season, chances are you’ve seen Jennifer Hudson belting the message that “it’s a new dawn, a new day, a new life.” And while the newly svelte American Idol alum’s rendition of “Feeling Good” is part of a nifty ad campaign for Weight Watchers, J.Hud could just as easily be shilling for Idol itself, which returned tonight for its tenth season with new judges, a new positive outlook, and a new obsession with vocalists who were just finishing up second grade when Kelly Clarkson was learning the lyrics to “A Moment Like This.” (Have fun swallowing that thought along with your Metamucil and your chewable calcium!)

Yes, folks, as sure as Justin Bieber’s hair is worth more than your car, American Idol is going to foist some sort of teenage dream onto the radio-listening public before summer arrives. How can I be so sure? Well, more than half of the 11 Golden Ticket recipients we heard singing during tonight’s telecast were 16 or younger. And each and every one of those kids had a megawatt smile, a polite demeanor, and the kind of hair Pantene wouldn’t hesitate to endorse.

But let’s go easy on Nigel Lythgoe & Co. this evening. Because while Idol once again partook of many of the audition-round behaviors that make me curse its very existence — playing up sad-sack background packages; not getting to an actual contestant tryout till 14 minutes into the episode; generally not allowing full-figured females within 100 yards of the judges’ table — I’ve got to applaud its newfound emphasis on Golden Ticket-worthy moments rather than school cafeteria-style taunts of those with deficiencies in hygiene, self-awareness, and (horror!) American accents.

What’s more, the radically altered judges panel — newcomers Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, along with old dawg Randy Jackson — far exceeded my expectations, and even more remarkably, distracted my brain for the better part of two hours from any “I miss Simon Cowell” nostalgia. (Granted, we really have to wait till the live performance episodes kick off before we can label Tyler and/or Lopez as Idol successes; if even a one-time Oscar host and veteran standup comic like Ellen DeGeneres can crumble under the weight of telling Andrew Garcia that his shtick is up, then I don’t think it’s unfair to take a wait-and-see approach to either of this year’s neophyte judges.)

That caveat aside, I’ve got to admit that I was wowed by Tyler’s performance tonight, especially when I compare it to the handful of his media interviews I’ve listened to over the last few months. Just as new parents typically need a few weeks to learn the meaning behind their infants varying cries and grunts (“I’m hungry!” “I need holding!” “I have a poopy diaper!”), I expected we’d be spending the better part of the evening trying to crack the code of Tyler’s grunts and squeals and roars (“You were great!” “You were terrible!” “I have a poopy diaper!”)

Turns out, however, that at least in a pre-taped, carefully edited setting, Tyler might turn out to be the star of the panel. His grammar may be questionable — oh how I longed to Krazy-Glue the letters L and Y to the end of Tyler’s “You sing beautiful” critiques! — and the old dude’s blatant flirting with underage female contestants falls somewhere between unfortunate and abhorrent, but he’s got a tangible love of music and an undeniably gifted ear. I found it completely endearing the way Tyler let out spontaneous hoots during the night’s best auditions, as if he was just a carefree kid singing along at his favorite band’s concert. Isn’t that what music appreciation is supposed to be all about? And unlike so many reality TV personalities who stretch and strive and contort themselves into “wacky” posturing, Tyler’s every word comes across as genuine. He’s wacky in reality, not reality TV “wacky.”

J.Lo, for her part, needs to toughen up and learn how to give a firm “no” to young folks who ought to be going to college or learning a trade instead of wasting their precious energy on delusions of musical superstardom. But that aside, The Lady Lopez still proved a thoroughly charming presence on the panel, mostly because she seemed to be paying genuinely close attention to the contestants, and not using her newfound role on America’s most popular television program to turn the focus on herself. Plus, J.Lo’s not afraid to take control if necessary: When Randy wondered if the panel should vote on Robbie Rosen’s fate, even though there was no question he was getting a Golden Ticket, she did everything but wheel the kid’s luggage to the tarmac. “No,” she responded. “Hollywood! Bye!” Well-played, Jenny from the Block!

And Randy, well, at least he kept the “yo, yo, yo, what’s goin’ down, dawg?” shtick to a minimum. If going third in the judges’ rotation keeps the man from stammering and stalling, then here’s hoping he remains on the right side of my TV screen from now through late May.

But enough about our judges: As any good Idoloonie will tell you, a season is only as good as its contestants! And while I can’t say that any magic rainbows appeared before my eyes during tonight’s show, there were at least a half-dozen wannabes who, based on raw vocal talent, would’ve easily cracked the upper half of the Season 9 finals. Let’s run down the 11 Golden Ticket holders from most to least promising:

Robbie Rosen (pictured, top right) | I’m not sure the producers did any favors for this adorable 16-year-old by revealing he’d spent time in a wheelchair when he was five years old. Tough-luck backstories can help a contestant stand out from the pack in the early part of the season, but ultimately, you want to be remembered for your vocals. Luckily for Robbie, his rendition of the Beatles’ “Yesterday” was not only pitch perfect, but struck that hard-to-hit zone of sounding original without completely decimating a classic melody (especially tricky when covering the Fab Four). And while the kid’s helmet hair and trip-to-the-mall duds won’t exactly be vote magnets once the competition is placed in the public’s hands, that might just mean we’ve got a jaunty style transformation to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead.

Brielle von Hugel (pictured, bottom left) | I know, I know, another super-young front-runner means another opportunity for Randy to repeat the mantra “and she’s only 16!” for the next 20 weeks. And another sob-story audition package — Brielle’s father overcame throat cancer within the past year — means some rejected auditioner watched from her couch tonight and screeched at her dad, “If you really loved me, you’d have developed a life-threatening illness to catch the producers’ eyes, too!” (Too dark?) Yet while the Dawg and Jennifer both expressed their concern that Brielle’s voice needed work, I absolutely loved the restraint she showed on her rendition of “Endless Love.” Granted, if I was one of Brielle’s parents, I’d have vetoed that gray-green dress with the plunging neckline in favor of something a wee bit more age-appropriate, but I liked the courteous note she struck as she left the audition room, telling the judges “It was an honor meeting you.”

Travis Orlando (pictured, top left) | Our third (but by no means final) 16-year-old with a hardscrabble background, Travis didn’t hit a single sour note while testing the waters on both “Eleanor Rigby” and “I’m Yours.” I’m not quite sure why Randy insisted the young man needed to “shake out the whole vibe,” seeing how Travis’ dark-rimmed glasses and nifty red t-shirt (emblazoned with the message “It’s Gonna Be Fantastic”) came together to create a crisp urban hipster effect, but I suspect we haven’t seen the last of this Bronx native.

Devyn Rush | This singing waitress at Ellen’s Stardust Diner in Manhattan impressed the panel with a jazzy rendition of “God Bless the Child,” yet while it’s apparent that Devyn’s got a powerful instrument, I thought she infused the song with too much theatricality and not enough raw emotion. Plus, as J.Lo pointed out, in today’s record business, you need to have the look, the attitude, and the wardrobe to go along with your raw talent. Or, as Steven summed it up, “Someone’s gotta take her clothes shopping.”

Caleb Hawley | It’s always refreshing to see an uptempo audition number, and the shaggy-maned soul man showed great energy on “Hallelujah, I Love Her So.” I worry, though, that there were a few too many cracks and strains in Caleb’s vocal — and not in a good way. Another one who’ll need a little TLC from the Idol vocal coaches and wardrobe department.

Melinda Ademi | Yep, apparently Idol wants to get a bulk rate for backstage tutors this year, seeing how this contestant is 16, too. Melinda, whose family fled Kosovo when she was a young girl, certainly has decent chops and good looks in her corner, but her rote choice of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” felt a little Season Five, for me for you.

Rachel Zevita | J.Lo confirmed she’s a hardcore Idoloonie by remembering the season’s first auditioner from her previous attempt at the show back in season 6. Or maybe La Lopez just remembers the time Rachel was a musical guest on my old EW Web series Idolatry back in 2007. Happy reminiscing aside, though, Rachel’s rendition of “Hallelujah” didn’t strike me as the sort of performance that would get her past day one of Hollywood Week — which is precisely the fate she met back in season 6.

Kenize Palmer | I wasn’t a big fan of Idol lowering its age limit to 15 for season 10, and I still need more convincing after watching Kenzie lend her massive pipes to Carrie Underwood’s “We’re Young and Beautiful” as if she were applying a pick-axe to a brick wall. As Steven said, before caving to pressure from Randy and J.Lo and saying yes to a Golden Ticket: “I wasn’t feelin’ the pizzazz.”

The remaining three contestants to advance to the next round tonight all entered the audition room looking like comic relief, but proved that you can’t necessarily judge a CD by its label. As a proud resident of Jersey City myself, I groaned at the producers’ decision to do a whole Jersey Shore-themed segment that wound up focusing on Tiffany Rios, a busty woman with two huge silver stars somehow attached to the front of her bikini. But after Tiffany whiffed trying to cough up a weakly written original ditty, she switched gears and belted Laura Branigan’s “The Power of Love” with such speaker-shattering intensity that I actually caught a little bit of feedback in the audio mix. I know the woman was moved to tears at the sight of Jennifer Lopez, but I’d have DQ’d her simply for dropping to the squatting position midway through the chorus. Actually, I wouldn’t have let her into the audition room in that outfit of hers: To me, a bikini top paired with gray slacks and a black jacket is not only in poor taste, but also a strong indicator that when the chips are down, a contestant probably values 60 seconds of airtime more than a potential singing career.

As for Ashley Sullivan and Victoria Huggins, well, it’s hard for me to say with certainty whether either lady had any awareness she was straddling the line between Golden Ticket and pure gimmick tonight. Surely, Ashley couldn’t have thought the producers were taking her dreams too seriously when they filmed her emerging gleefully from a Port-a-Potty, but then again, her rendition of “Gimme Gimme” was so maniacal — and her breakdown in front of the judges was so over-the-top — that I honestly question whether or not Idol producers should have put her fragile self on air in the first place. Then again, I suppose if I ran Idol and I’d gotten a contestant loudly declaring, “Mainstream needs to get with Liza Minelli!” I’d have looked for a way to get him on the airwaves, too.

And finally we come to the curious case of aggressively perky 16-year-old Victoria (pictured, bottom right): I felt like I’d taken a giant bite out of a Serrano pepper the entire time I was watching this girl crank the volume to 10 and jazz-hands her way to a Golden Ticket. Somewhere beneath the horrible, unending burning sensation, though, you know some good flavors are lurking, and Victoria’s “Midnight Train to Georgia” was exactly that: Sung with potency, emotional connectedness, and lovely whisp of falsetto on the “whoo-hoos.”

Even if you include Victoria in the mix, we only got a handful of train-wreck auditions tonight, and even most of those typically repetitive interactions yielded a few funny moments. There was the woman who sounded like a dehydrated, off-key Grace Jones. There was the boy scout whose straw hat and green plaid shirt was ridiculed by the judges, but honestly, I didn’t think his duds looked any worse than most of the guys who advanced to Hollywood. And finally, we had Steven looking up at Michael Perotto and asking, “Did you eat a lot of paint chips as a child?”

Funniest line of the night, though, goes to Japanese dancer Yoji “Pop” Asano, who (vocally) butchered Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” while simultaneously delivering some dance steps worthy of that Paula Abdul series from the Thunderdome. Asked at the end of the day if he was, in fact, a Miley fan, however, Yoji simply could not tell a lie. “Not really,” he explained. And just like that, I dissolved into laughter. Thanks for a good time tonight, Idol, and welcome back!

What did you think about Idol‘s season 10 premiere? How about the show’s new credits, and new giant ‘Idol‘ logo? Share your thoughts below, and to get all my news and commentary — as well as updates on how you can become a cohost of’s new video series, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Tahoe Mike says:

    Idol just wouldn’t be as much fun without your column the next day. Add my voice to the chorus that says “Idolatry must continue!”

    Sob stories still suck!

    • forrest says:

      as you may already know, EW’s comment section following the review of this episode shouts the same thing and has links to this site. Yes, unless idolatry is the property of EW, please continue the tradition which has been consistently more entertaining than the actual episode you’re reviewing.

  2. Andrea says:

    I didn’t watch last night, and I’m not sure if I will or not this season. But I purposely sought our your review, because I trust your opinion on “Idol” more than anything.

    • carrie says:

      me too! Slezak, I’ve been reading your Idol recaps for years. I don’t think I’d even bother to watch the show if I didn’t have your recap to look forward to the next day! Congrats on your new locale and keep up the great work!

    • idolholic says:

      I didn’t watch either. I was so disgusted with last season that I’m boycotting this one! It was literally like work to watch Season 9, and I’ve been a diehard fan since Season 2! Many times I’ve said, “Slezak’s recaps are the best part of Idol,” so now I’m standing behind those words: I’m not watching the show, but I am seeking out every single solitary word that Slezak writes! Love you, Mike, glad you are back :0) !!

  3. donna says:

    I second the comments that say Idolatry must continue!!! I already miss it. I neeeeed it!! Also, so great to see two of my EW faves together on this site. :)

  4. marie says:

    Yay! Slezak is here! Wouldn’t have been the same without him. I was surprised that I liked the new judges as much as I did; they showed the minimum of self-important shtick mixed with what seemed like genuine interest in the contestants. The contestants, though: so far, no one at all I am looking forward to hearing again (ok, so it’s only one show so far). I’d have preferred RAISING the minimum age to 17 instead of lowering it to 15, but I guess I’m pretty far from Idol’s target demographic. I didn’t agree with the judges’ gushing over ANY of the contestants; the way I heard it, each of those advancing to Hollywood was merely good enough to be what I think of as “Hollywood Week cannon fodder.” I’m pleased enough with the new judges and with what seemed to be – at least last night – a noticeable reduction in the cruelty factor previously hammered in the audition shows, but I have this horrible feeling the final 24 might turn out to be even less talented than the sleep-indicing group from last season. We’ll see.

    • liz says:

      first of all, i am THRILLED to see that i wont have to go without slezak this idol season. secondly, i dont really even mind the age drop as much, or i guess i wouldnt, if they would just raise the age limit as well. i dont think i am alone in thinking that there are probably just as many talented 29-30 year olds (if not more) as there are 15 year olds

  5. marie says:

    Yay! Slezak is here! Wouldn’t have been the same without him. I was surprised that I liked the new judges as much as I did; they showed the minimum of self-important shtick mixed with what seemed like genuine interest in the contestants. The contestants, though: so far, no one at all I am looking forward to hearing again (ok, so it’s only one show so far). I’d have preferred RAISING the minimum age to 17 instead of lowering it to 15, but I guess I’m pretty far from Idol’s target demographic. I didn’t agree with the judges’ gushing over ANY of the contestants; the way I heard it, each of those advancing to Hollywood was merely good enough to be what I think of as “Hollywood Week cannon fodder.” I’m pleased enough with the new judges and with what seemed to be – at least last night – a noticeable reduction in the cruelty factor previously hammered in the audition shows, but I have this horrible feeling the final 24 might turn out to be even less talented than the sleep-inducing group from last season. We’ll see.

  6. Gale says:

    So glad I found you, Michael. Liked the positive chemistry of the new judging panel, except for Randy – his schtick seems more stale than ever. JLo is very likeable. Somebody should tell Steven not to curse – even though they edit it out, it’s off-putting. I agree that the contestants were a letdown. Some of those people should not have been put through.

    • Jessica says:

      “Somebody should tell Steven not to curse”

      And porn stars shouldn’t show their equipment and republicans shouldn’t make ignorant statements and old people shouldn’t drive 25. He’s a rock star. That’s what they do.

  7. scrutinizer says:

    so glad i read the comments on annie barrett’s ew review and found out you were here! :):)
    as always, your take on idol is the BEST and i’ll look forward to reading your weekly recaps.
    please, please,please bring back idolatry…or at least something equivalent. miss the hysterically brilliant interaction between you and jessica!
    continued success here at your new home :)

  8. Jay says:

    I’m ready for the X Factor.

  9. averill says:

    Idolatry is 60% of the fun in the AIdol Experience. I hope this writing re-location finds your salary tripled. You are worth it Michael. The ONLY reason I am on this website is you. Someone needs to pay you, and pay you well for that. Just sayin… Long as you are here, I’ll be back.

    Yeah, interesting. I did not think of Simon either, and I quite liked him. Upwards and onwards!

  10. JillS says:

    The original AI magic is long gone. Ahh the days of the old judging panel! It’s over…kind of like when The Andy Griffith Show went from b and w to color. Wrap this one up, Fox.

  11. RogerG says:

    Glad I found you here–I was worried about a lack of worthwhile “Idol” reviews this year, but between you and Annie, this is the best of both worlds. That being said, “The Power of Love” is no more a Laura Branigan song than a Celine Dion song. It was originally sung by Jennifer Rush.

  12. lavamom says:

    Is there a way to subscribe just to new Idol posts by Slezak?

  13. LindaT says:

    Yay! Slezak is back!

    I’m not a big fan of the AI audition episodes — too much filler, too many trainwrecks, not enough good singing — but last night was actually pretty good. It’s hard to judge the “new” AI on just one episode, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of Steven Tyler; other than the contestants, he was the best part of the show. J-Lo needs to grow a backbone — I got tired of her whining wbout how hard it is to say no to contestants (please, J-Lo, please don’t be another Ellen!), but I think she’ll be an improvement over the previous female judges. And Randy, well, the Dawg was pretty useless as always. Why not just put a drawing of Randy in his chair and call it a day?

    P.S. And, “yes, please” to a video series with Jason Averett (ala Idolatry)!

  14. Lunakit says:

    HELLO Michael! Fortunately, I read about your new gig from one of the EW posted comments. Found you!! I love Annie B and will read her recaps as well, but it just wouldn’t be the same without you! AND don’t tell me that you won’t be comparing your recaps with hers!! I suggest we get a game going each week to compare your recaps!!!

  15. Bill says:

    The judges were too accommodating; most of the people who advanced were second-rate. But otherwise the evening was passably entertaining. Tyler is a gas, Lopez is a babe, and Randy was less “dawg”-affllicted than usual.

  16. @spunkybean says:

    As always is the case, it isn’t just American Idol that kicks butt, it’s your recaps the next day. Spot on. Perfect prose. I was drumming and smacking my desk while reading your recap, just like Mr. Steven Tyler. -Don

  17. Norm says:

    I thought JLo and Steven Tyler struck the perfect post-Tucson balance of good-heartedness and criticism (and, yes, I do think verbal bashing on television contributes to the negative national conversation; it legitimizes it). I did not miss the Sultan of Sadistic Snark in the least; it was particularly nice not to see him checking his manicure or counting ceiling tiles while contestants bleated their hearts out. Tyler is a refreshing personality and JLo’s struggle with “No” will be short-lived: She evolved as we watched, no problem there. Randy seemed star-struck, yay (or yo)uncomfortable, but will doubtless step up to the mega-star challenge with time.

    Idol could, though, shorten the show to one hour, as I was more than ready for Modern Family at nine. Never able to watch auditions without a book in hand for commercials and free floating ennui, this year was no exception. The show needs to “move” more and faster. Who remembers all of these folks, any way? And even if you try to memorize the good performers, they are like to disappear faster than cigarette smoke.

    All in all, an excellent revision and I didn’t hear much of the Idol

  18. Norm says:

    theme, which drove me bats.

    Michael, you were missed!!

  19. Brian Dunkleman's Shrink says:

    They did what once seemed unimaginable: they made Idol good again. Jennifer was likeable. Randy was coherent. And Steven was a perfect mix of brains, charm and just enough inappropriateness to keep things interesting. I particularly like how genuinely interested Steven and Jennifer appear to be in finding a kid that can sing. Kara (who I like) seemed more concerned with being a judge than actually judging. Ellen was completely miscast. And even though Simon will always be the master of this kind of thing, last night proved that Idol can survive without him. Way to go Nigel & Co.

  20. Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

    So happy to find Michael, and I bet TVLine is happy to have him, especially when word gets out.

    I thought the show was better than it’s been in a while. The judges were less mean than Simon, and more intelligible than Paula. So the average stayed about the same. I know I’m older than the desired demo (40something, gasp!), but I for one really appreciated less cruelty and sarcasm.

    Robbie Rosen was also my favorite contestant. He looks and dresses like a young Bruce Springsteen, but he sounds sweeter and has a beautiful smile. If his singing is any good, he’ll go far.

  21. sherimoonzombie says:

    After I get done eating my own words, I’ll be forced to admit that I enjoyed JLo and (especially) Steven Tyler. Who’da thunk it? I was appalled when I heard they were chosen. Glad to see I was wrong.

    I loved the urban hipster dude at the end and the singing waitress. Am I wrong or is 51 the most to make it through in a day??

    Sooo glad to still follow Slezak’s idol recaps. Who else pairs words like “agressively perky”? Heavenly!

  22. Mary says:

    Awesome recap, Slezak! As usual, I have a feeling these may be the highlight of this season. Glad you’re still covering Idol!

  23. jason says:

    Um, that Victoria girl was perhaps the most annoyning human to ever audition for the show. We certainly don’t need another Miley Cyrus. Ugh, she must be booted asap!

  24. Kit says:

    Can I be comment 100?

  25. Fizzy says:

    I loved Steven Tyler! I could not believe I did. I thought he was going to be my least favorite and he won me over in one night. JLo was good but I hope that she develops a backbone as the season progresses. The sooner she can tell contestants that they have no place on AI the better. Randy didn’t annoy me either. All in all I thought it was a great night for AI. Here’s hoping it only gets better.

  26. Ella says:

    Hey, Michael! Glad I found you here! Last night after the show went looking on your recap on EW and no Slezak? I felt panicky, but found you quick enough…wewh..sigh of relief! :-)

    Love your recap as usual – you are spot on. I enjoyed the show last night and actually a rarely watch auditions at all – they were so boring and stupid. Not this one though! Love Steven Tyler! The man knows a musical talent when he sees..or rather hears it! I knew that he was funny, but he exceeded my expectations! And also he showed a soft side of him. How sweet!
    JLO was fine, she also looked like she cares about contestants. Few funny moments from her too!
    Randy? He was ok…last season he was my favorite judge. This one – my least favorite, he-he and he actually improved! But he did’t bother me, since he is still his “short and sweet” mostly and I was happy to have a femiliar face on a panel too.

    Contestants? Good voices, I appreciate that. But it’s really hard to tell yet. Robby Rosen is probably my favorite at the moment. But it’s too early. Also, pelple please remember – it’s very hard to judge singing when it’s so “nacked”. When they sing with a band and supporting crew – it should be much better. Still – love that they got back to strong voices as opposed to strumming guitar homey music. Leave those to some other shows. Idol was always about good voices except the last season.

    Oh, and I absolutely didn’t miss Simon! Not for one split second! On the contrary – so glad that he is gone! It’s like the dark cloud lifted! And even happier not to see and especially hear Kara! Good riddance! And good entertaining show – FINALLY!

  27. wendeeloo says:

    Congrats on your new gig Michael – I second all who have said Idol is only worth it’s salt when you…add the pepper(?) Anyway, I hope there is a video version like idolatry. I guess Jason A. did not come with you – Love his work – I tweet him but he does not answer my twe?ts. Didn’t you love when Steven said “You’re so proud.” to the treacly-sweet 16 yr old? Sounded like a compliment but yet, not so much. Promising at the judges table – Night One.

  28. kellybelly says:

    Yay! Slezak is Back! I’ll 100th-ing the comments (as opposed to that tired convention of ‘seconding’) that Idolatry must come back in some form. Pleaze? Us idoloonies can’t manage without it. But at least we still have you.
    I liked the show last night. Good judging panel. Critical without being cruel. They were clear and succinct. The show, yay, showed MORE talented auditioners than the train-wrecks, thank the lord.
    Normally I just fast forward thru audition week and only really start watching during Hollywood week. But after last night, I might give the auditions another chance again.

  29. Paisley Quinn says:

    Hey, Michael! Following you on this new site, couldn’t watch AI without your recaps. I thought it was just okay last night, nothing spectacular either way. I think the judges let some kids through that would not have made it in past seasons, but Hollywood Week is usually the “great equalizer,” so we’ll see. Not too many wacky auditions, lots of younger contestants. JLo is too nice, Tyler might have lost some of his hearing, and Randy, weightloss notwithstanding, will need to be the heavy.

  30. BrazenSongBird says:

    Yay! Idol has begun and I’ve read Slezak’s inaugural re-cap for season 10. I’m feeling very complete right now. (Zennnnnnn…) Stellar job as usual, Michael! I thought the first ep was pretty entertaining, altho I prefer my crazy served up as Broadway/Brittany girl and not so much the Soon-To-Be Eagle Scout boy. And I agree with you, the one who really set my teeth on edge was the Rachel Berry clone, Viktoria. This Stepford wife-in-training was just toooooo much. Bleh!

    But I did enjoy Robbie from Merrick, LI alot. I think the kid just oozes talent. And I think that Rachel, with the VERY legit voice, just used the wrong song for her audition. Both of these kids have amazing instruments and ears. Can’t wait to see how they progress.

  31. betsy says:

    Love, love, love your reviews.

    I was also really happy that they didn’t give any time to ridiculous costumed contestants, who clearly only want time on TV and don’t really care about the show. Maybe by not showing them on TV they will discourage any more of that in the future.

  32. coco says:

    I found you!!!!!! YES, can not watch Idol without my Slezak fix. Plus you are recapping Top Chef too, double awesome! Idolatry next????

  33. Susan says:

    Dear Michael,
    After all the years we spent together, I have to use Google to find out where you went? Truth be told, you were always my American Idol -I admit I watched American Idol just so I’d know what you were talking about on Idolatry.

    I bet Alison Iraheta didn’t have to GOOGLE you!!

    All is forgiven now that I’ve found you.


  34. Sandy says:

    Nicely written, Mr. Slezak. I agree that the new judges weren’t bad last night. After a few episodes, the panel change probably won’t be a big deal to most viewers. People will see that one person doesn’t make the show. Simon himself said the viewers are the true judges of the show.

    As for the talent, I don’t know whose idea it was to tone down the bad auditions, but I’m thankful for it. If they absolutely have to show four weeks of audition episodes every season, then I want to see more good singers than bad. Bad auditions get old after the first week. Bring on more Devyns and Robbies!

  35. Jennifer Meredith says:

    Best part of AI? MS recaps!!

  36. Morgana says:

    Yayyy, Sleeeezzzaaakk! I can probably deal with Idol changes, but I wouldn’t want to miss a recap by you.

    OK, my take:
    The past couple years the audition rounds have been kind of crazy. I wanted fewer “crazy” auditions, longer song snippets and less “cruel” critiques. Well, Idol seems to have delivered on those things — and it was nice. I just don’t know if “nice” is doing it for me.

    The anticipation and excitement over a new season kept me from missing Simon too much, but I did miss him…. a little bit. :-)

    I think one of the reasons we didn’t see so many over the top “bad” auditions is because that’s where Simon was unique. Don’t show those auditions… and you don’t miss Simon skewering them.

  37. randomx6 says:

    The way i know that last night was boring (other than I was bored…) the brilliant Michael S could not make it sizzle. This show is sliding down the slope and lechy talent guy and no talent block gal are not going to help. The contestants simply have no zing.

  38. Jason S says:

    I love how Slezak thinks it was a conscious decision on the part of the judges to spotlight good singers over bad auditions. Truth is without Simon’s meanness and hilarious barbs there probably wasn’t that much entertaining bad singer footage to show.

  39. Dawn says:

    I think they all did a fantastic job ! kudos.I love the new American Idol sign .I really dont care for the chossoing of only the young kids out there as there are far many more with talent to be seen than just kids.And yes J-LO needs to get just a little more backbone to say no.Wich I beliebe she’ll get there,she’s such a sweetheart.
    I think if you all stick together IDOL wil go far !

  40. Amy says:

    I was bummed to hear you were no longer with EW. Now I’m thrilled to know you’re still recapping…makes AI worth watching to be able to process the good the bad and the ugly with your succinct and hilariouals reviews! Keep up the great work!

  41. JayK says:

    I was not expecting this, but I loved Steven Tyler and JLo. And, somehow, Randy was less annoying than usual. AND about 30 minutes in, it suddenly occurred to me… it’s BETTER without Simon. Way better. Sob-story packages aside, great ep. Suddenly excited about season 10!

  42. Suncatcher says:

    Slezak is bak!!! (Alright, so I am the last to post here but at least I found Michael, finally)!

    The first S10 show was a winner because:
    – they showcased / picked TALENT! How different!
    – the judges were terrific – great chemistry! Even Randy is revived.
    – they did not focus on the pathetic & psychotic auditions as in S9
    – S9’s biggest hit was “Pants on the Ground” & S10 has already got that beat!
    – Simon who?

    Great start – for S10 and for you, Michael! Catch ya next week.

  43. lizv says:

    Happy to find Michael still recapping/reviewing Idol. I will miss Idolatry but the written reviews are better than nothing. I’m reserving my judgement for the new judges until the real shows begin. I will say that I miss Simon, though I’m glad they didn’t try to recast his “part”.

  44. Great blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol