The New Orleans auditions

Auditioners vie for attenton at the New Orleans auditions last summer. (FOX Photo)

So, what did we learn today, the day after the most important premiere in Idol’s history?

Well, the ratings dropped from last year’s premiere. But they were higher than last year’s finale.

More importantly, lots of people seem impressed with this new judging panel.

First up: Annie Barrett at, who writes: “Steven Tyler is a marvel … He is a wise old loon. Jennifer Lopez is fine too. Okay, she was kind of a mess and clearly took her time getting comfortable with the dark side of her new job. But I’m confident J. Lo can be swift and effective for the live shows. … I didn’t think about Simon once. It felt great.”

Next up: Mjsbigblog, who writes: ”Steven Tyler is going to be the BREAKOUT STAR of American Idol Season 10. Tonight, I was so enamored with the Aerosmith frontman-he managed to balance eloquence and heart with balls-to-the-walls crazy–that I didn’t give Simon Cowell a second thought.  … Jennifer Lopez was the same as I remember from her mentor stint during Season 6. She’s sweet, knowledgeable, but kinda forgettable. And the story arc that had Jennifer too upset to say no felt contrived. Randy seemed energized, but he’s typically at his best during the audition phase.”

Next: Mary McNamara with the L.A. Times:  Season 10 and “American Idol” finally brought in a couple of pros.  Whether or not new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez will be able to find and foster an actual pop star or generate the love/hate buzz of their predecessors remains to be seen. But moments into Wednesday night’s season premiere, it was gratifyingly clear that for the first time in a long time the fumblings and flailings of contestants fighting to find their feet on stage will not be mirrored by the judges table …  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.”

A tierra, a sash and a colorful sign. Does it equal a spot before the judges? (FOX Photo)All of which should be enough to make Nigel “Dizzyfeet” Lythgoe do a little jig.

If you missed it, you can see my own grades for the Idol judges here.

Oh, and don’t forget, if you want to relive moments from past Idol seasons, head here. There’s a page for every finalist to ever appear on American Idol.

With the self promos out of the way, it’s time for episode number two, when the focus will naturally turn away from the now-not-so-new judges to Idol’s new cast of fledgling contestants.

Tonight, we’re in New Orleans, where Idol is likely to find at least one of two hard-luck stories to match Travis Orlando, last night’s teenaged show-closer.

We’re two minutes into the show. A contestant has already cried. Steven Tyler has already been beeped.

Randy vowed to be tough? Yeah, right.

Anyway, I’ll turn my focus to the contestants, too.

Jordan Dorsey: This 21-year-old from LaPlace, La., is the night’s first featured contestant. And he sizzles on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Jennifer Lopez insisted he stop singing because he was giving her goosebumps. The first supremely talented non-teen we’ve heard from. Excellent.

Sarah Sellers: And Sarah might be the best female we’ve heard from so far. Extremely nice control to her voice as she sang Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love.” The 28-year-old Texan identified herself as a market analyst and food and music blogger. And aspiring American Idol, of course. With lips to match Steven Tyler’s.

Jovany Barreto: Funny thing about this guy. I’d heard he made Hollywood. So I went looking for some of his music. Couldn’t find a note. But his Facebook is filled with photos of him posing shirtless in front of a mirror. Seems way too stuck on himself for my taste. And here we go, he had to shed his shirt on Idol. Nope, won’t be rooting for you Mr. Abs. At least Casey James had to be talked into stripping.

Jacquelyn Dupree: Doesn’t hurt to butter up the judges. Like by showing up with high school photos of Randy. And accompanied by his old high school football coach. Jacquelyn, a 24-year-old cosmetologist, sounds OK singing “Stand By Me,” but we’ve heard better by other females already this season.

Erin Kelly of Long Island and Ace Gilliam of Las Vegas were apparently two of the golden ticket recipients we didn't meet Wednesday night on American Idol. (AP Photo)Brett Loewenstern: Don’t let the soft-spoken voice or the long curly flame-colored hair fool you. This guy just did a splendid a cappella version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” no small feat. So he’s headed to Hollywood. He’s 16. He’s from Boca Raton, Fla. He was bullied in school growing up. He proclaims that his golden ticket is a symbol of believing in oneself. He just might be what Idol is looking for in season 10.

Jaycee Badeaux: Unless I’m forgetting someone, this young man is the first 15-year-old we’ve heard from. He says he’s ready. And so he launches into “Sitting On the Dock of the Bay.” And pretty quickly wins over the judges. Not sure he’s Idol material, but a very nice voice. A little more info on this lad. He competed in Baton Rogue Idol at age 15 and won out of 80 competitors for the right to audition in front of Idol judges. “I don’t even remember when I started singing; I just always have.”  he told in Sept. He won that competition by singing “God Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts.

Paris Tassin: The 23-year-old mom of a special needs child hails from New Orleans and gets the honors of being tonight’s show-closer. She’s bringing Jennifer Lopez to tears. One of those high notes almost brought me to tears. But all in all, she turned in a nice version of Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home.” And she has a touching back-story of getting pregnant at age 18, before she was ready, being told the baby was sick and that she shouldn’t continue the pregnancy, and deciding to have her daughter anyway.


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