Idol Judges Get Thumbs Up

America’s love affair with talent was renewed again as the tenth season of American Idol stoked its star-maker fires introducing a judges bench with two new faces and of course a bevy of wannabe hopefuls. Not unexpectedly, opinions were mixed moving into the debut as to whether the new personalities could reverse the show’s recent downward ratings trend. However, “judging” by the morning-after articles, facebook opinions and blog comments from around the web, judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez acquitted themselves quite nicely on opening night. The role of new mentor/judge Interscope Records Chairman Jimmy Iovine is yet to be unveiled but he will sign the winner to a recording contract. Here’s a few quotes from some of the high profile writers and links to read more…

“Season 10 and American Idol finally brought in a couple of pros,” said the L.A. Times Mary McNamara “And after the bipolar antics of last year’s woefully mismatched panel — including a zombified Ellen DeGeneres and a manically flirtatious Kara DioGuardi — their natural confidence in front of the camera was such a blessed relief that it was hard to miss even the bracing ballistics of Simon Cowell…’Baby, you got so much drama but you’ve got no notes,’ Tyler told one young woman, quickly establishing himself as capable of telling the truth in a colorful but nonhostile way.”

The Wrap.com’s Jennifer Kelly had the morning’s best headline saying, ‘American Idol’: How It Went With the Diva, the Dawg and the Demon of Screamin’

“Yes, it was the debut of the new judging triumvirate, featuring Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and veteran Randy Jackson. Perhaps more importantly, though, it marked the official end to the banal season 9, and that in itself is a bonus… Tyler, on the other hand, is an entertaining walking paradox. While it’s not fair to call him a Paula-Simon hybrid, he is equal parts kooky and no-nonsense. Whether he’s spontaneously breaking into song mid-speech or spouting wacky wisdom (“Water her flower ‘cause it’s gonna grow”), he is definitely the stand-out personality. Unlike Paula, though, you never lose the feeling that he actually knows what he’s talking about…”

Linda Stasi wove colorful phrases into her insights that stretch beyond the new judges and address the direction of the show itself for the New York Post.

“In fact, the instant chemistry among the three judges was so right, they couldn’t have created it in a lab. Everything that made us fall in love with Idol in the first place was back: The heart (Lopez), the soul (Randy Jackson) and the Crazy (Tyler). But it was back in a whole new way. And now that Nigel Lythgoe, the genius behind the show, is back, he brought with him his credo about what had made “Idol” the show it was: The simplicity — and the soap. Idol was never, and will never really be, a show about singing. It’s really a show about singing for your supper or else you won’t eat. The more down and out, miserable and depressing your life has been and the more you struggled for your dream, the better chance you have. Last night they hit depression jackpot, too. There was the kid who beat life in a wheelchair, the throat cancer father who brought his singing daughter, and finally and most touching, the homeless Bronx boy with the voice of a modern day Johnny Mathis. Cry? Are you kidding me? They don’t need car and Coke commercials — they should just have Kleenex ads…”

Nashville’s Brian Mansfield also clocked in for USA Today with his take on the new Idol dynamic.

“Lopez comes off like a more businesslike version of the supportive, nurturing Abdul, who left Idol after the 2009 season — lots of tears and hugs, and she struggles with having to say some obvious no’s, but she has constructive things to say to even the worst contestants. Tyler, on the other hand, brings back the goofy unpredictability that was Abdul’s stock-in-trade during her eight seasons on the show. He gets directly involved with the auditions — drumming on the desk, harmonizing, providing backing vocals, whatever he thinks the contestants need. He’s willing to be ‘brutally honest,’ but he’s also not above lightheartedly mocking auditioners — or flirting with the females: ‘Where’s your pitchfork, you sexy devil?’ he asks one.

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David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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