For the first time at least since season two, “Idol” has given the media a 23-minute “select auditions” advance screener featuring some of the people who tried out for season 10.
The purpose: show that life after Simon Cowell isn’t so bad, that there is what the PR folks term “incredible chemistry” among Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson.
I’m going to hold judgment on the “incredible” part but based on the very select, edited clips, it’s not bad chemistry. Tyler actually holds up better than I expected, providing random humor and plenty of verve, sometimes singing along or accompanying good singers. (”Idol” only provided clips of two bad singers and nobody said anything remotely Cowell-like to them.)
Jackson is now the default leader as elder statesman. Lopez is chipper and sweet but grounded. The audition room is more streamlined with the behind-the-scenes staff no longer shown the way they were last year. The nine past winners are all featured on the walls though you can see Kelly Clarkson and Lee “Who is that again?” DeWyze the most based on the camera angles.
Although we see the singers, we don’t get most of their names or city of origin.
- One 16-year-old does a fine job with a Josh Turner song. This elicits Tyler to say “hellfire, save matches, **** a duck and see what hatches,” he says. Huh?
- Second up is a Latino dance instructor from New Jersey who was inspired by Lopez in “Selena” and starts crying. She sings a mildly comical personal song (”America needs me for higher ratings on TV!”) and shows off some surprising attiring. She then does a powerful version of “The Power of Love.”
- Third: a blond country singer who does a fine version of a Faith Hill song. “You got it!” Jackson said.
- Fourth: an off-tune take on Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time” with much finger snapping. “Do not quit your day job,” Tyler said. That’s considered harsh in this group.
- Fifth: a white dude does a soulful take on a Ray Charles tune that Tyler provides sound effects galore.
- Sixth: a boyfriend-girlfriend combo that makes it to Hollywood. Both are impressive. The guy has a bit of Harry Connick Jr. in him.
- Seventh: a gal Ally who could be Tyler’s daughters sings some “Dream On.”
- Eighth: a scruffy man blows away the trio with another Ray Charles song.
- Ninth: Another schlub is completely out of tune butchering Sinatra, garnering much laughter from the judges.
- Tenth: A mom to a special needs child elicits tears from Lopez with an affecting take of a Carrie Underwood song.