It’s a beautiful daaaaaay! Those were the lyrics that closed out Lee DeWyze’s season 9 victory march on American Idol, but they’re also mighty applicable at this very moment, given that the nation’s most popular reality competition returned to the airwaves in fine form tonight after a seven-and-a-half month hiatus.
Admittedly, night one of Idol 10.0 wasn’t its most thrilling installment of all-time ever, but the show’s increased emphasis on truly talented singers — and its decision not to belabor audition packages from the talentless, the deluded, and the attention-craving — made for a zippy, feel-good 120 minutes. And while the season premiere lacked Simon Cowell’s addictively salty bitchery, it benefited greatly from Steven Tyler’s stream-of-righteous critiques. Yeah, sometimes it takes a beat to translate the hoots and howls and adjectives emanating from the Aerosmith frontman’s giant mouth, but he’s already exhibiting solid instincts when faced with young, unpolished talent. His “I wasn’t feelin’ the pizazz” feedback to big-voiced-but-soulless 15-year-old Kenize Palmer was spot on, even if he eventually caved and said “yes” to giving her a Golden Ticket.
And while I’m not certain we saw the eventual Season 10 Idol champ during tonight’s telecast, there were plenty of Top 10 (or perhaps Top 13) contenders in the mix. Among them: adorable Robbie Rosen (who infused “Yesterday” with youthful charm); polite Staten Island teenager Brielle von Hugel (who resisted the urge to vibrato “Endless Love” to death); and deeply annoying but undeniably talented Victoria Huggins. (Interestingly, Victoria embodied the evening’s two major Golden Ticket trends: The judges were kind to teenage vocalists, as well as singers who entered the room looking like punch line fodder but turned out to have serious vocal ability.)
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There’s a lot more to discuss — Jennifer Lopez’s debut! Those new opening credits! The fact that one-time Idolatry guest Rachel Zevita is back in Idol business! –but it’s time I got started on my full Idol recap, which will post right here at TVLine.com in the wee small hours of the morning. Until that column goes live, you can head down to the comments section and share your thoughts and feelings about the Idol season premiere, and of course, sign up to follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.