Monday, January 20, 2014

An Old New Favorite

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” (Thanks to The Godfather for those oh too apropos words). I had made my Sophie’s choice a couple years ago and had opted for The Voice over American Idol, the granddaddy of all singing competitions which spawned a slew of copycats over the years including The X-Factor, Singing Bee, Nashville Star and The Voice to name a few. While Idol had lost a lot its luster these last few seasons and last year’s judges drama had been a real turn off and distraction to many viewers, no one can dispute that somehow the show has still managed to crank out successful recording artists; and though they might not be on the scale of Clarkson or Underwood, they are still more successful and with more name recognition than either The Voice or The X-Factor winners (such as Phillip Phillips).

I had wanted to hold strong and be a woman of my convictions but the Harry pull was too strong, so with an assist from OnDemand on Friday and Sunday I caught up with both episodes of American Idol’s two-night premiere. I must say that despite my time away everything felt so comfortable and familiar – from the catchy intro music, to Ryan’s dramatic “this is American Idol”, to the judges and the long line of good to great auditions all made wonderfully cooler and more fun thanks to three astutely cast judges that were refreshingly honest, smart and kind to everyone that stood before them (Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban).

I loved the warm dynamic between Harry, J. Lo and Keith. There was an effortless camaraderie between the three, as they laughed, giggled and cracked jokes like they’d been friends forever. The best part was that it never became about them; they remained focused on the contestants and they seemingly took seriously the fact that they held someone’s hopes and dreams in their hands. I loved Harry; he was as brutally honest as Simon, but softened the blow with his Southern charm and music know-how; quickly reminding us that like the song says, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in a most delightful way.”

I’ll be honest I’m not a fan of J. Lo, neither her music nor her acting, but yet as with her last go around as judge, I’m a fan of her as a person. I appreciated the kindness and compassion J. Lo, as well as the other two judges, showed all the hopefuls – young and not so young, who showed up with a dream; striving to build a better life for themselves and their family.

A significant improvement in the show is the negligible amount of bad auditions that we as viewers have to sit through. In truth the amount of talent was really staggering considering we’re only two episodes into the audition process; there were so many moving and memorable auditions that I just loved (including Sam Woolf, John Fox, Keith London, and Rachel Rolleri, to name a few). Of course, it’s still very early; a lot more auditions and talent to see so I won’t pick a favorite just yet, especially since if memory serves me well, the Hollywood round is usually one big blood bath as the judges narrow a field of 100s to a measly 20 for the top 10 boys and girls.

For what it’s worth, I think American Idol is back and I’ll definitely be tuning in to this old new favorite. Why don't you tune in too? Check it out on FOX, Wednesday at 8 PM ET.