Opening Night

th (2)Season Ten will be the year of the kinder, gentler judges and a renewal of the original mission of the show: Find great singers, and let them sing great.

There have been a lot of changes, both in front of and behind the camera. The age limit was lowered to 15 and the old semifinal system was scrapped. They are still working out the details for the new format. I’ll keep you posted. The new people:

Jennifer Lopez- J-Lo finds it hard to say no. It’s been reported on several sites that the judges handed out 320 Golden Tickets, almost twice as many as last year. It looks like Jen is going to be the new Paula, though probably a much more sober Paula.

Steven Tyler– He has been way too easy thus far; he needs to be blunt, if not overtly mean. The other judges can’t be the blunt guy – it has to be Steven.

Nigel Lythgoe- Executive Producer. More on him later. The show will live or die by his decisions.

Ray Chew– Bandleader. There has been a lot of talk about being more creative and versatile with the arrangements. We’ll see.

Jimmy Iovine– Mentor. You will hear more about him down the road.

Randy Jackson is back, and he moved to the other side of the judging table. He seems to be trying to be more of a decision maker, but it’s hard to reinvent yourself without changing jobs. A two-chair move ain’t far enough.

Simon is gone and Ellen quit, saying that she is too busy to do the show. I hope she still supports the show on her own talk show like she did last year. Kara’s contract wasn’t renewed, but I’ve heard talk that she will have some kind of minor role down the road. I care less about the judges than most people do, but I understand that they are an important dynamic. I’ll give my two cents on them as we go along. I’ll likely have a lot to say about Lythgoe, who is pretty much the Czar of the show now, but not until later in the process.

The singers:

I just took them as they came, and I skipped all but the Golden Ticket winners.

Rachel Zevita, 22– Out of control vibrato, shaky in her intonation.

Caleb Hawley, 25– Loved the voice, hated the screeching at the top end of his range.

Kenzie Palmer, 15– She has a country sort of quality to her voice, but her inflections were more in line with the pop and gospel styles she is learning in musical theater. She is poised and polished, her intonation is strong, and she has some command. She smiles easily and she has some vocal chops, most noticeably the ability to “moan” up and down between notes. She’ll be in the power rankings.

Tiffany Rios, 21– She can sing, but she is more likely to make it to the cast of “Jersey Shore” than the final twelve. I’ll find a spot for her in the power rankings, but let’s not get carried away.

Robbie Rosen, 16– He has an emotional, thrilling voice and a nice guy vibe. He’ll be around for awhile. I’m not sure he’s a slam dunk for the finals, at least not yet, but he seems to be getting the package treatment.

Robbie’s intonation worries me. I want to hear him more before I start calling him a contender. He could be great, or he could lose the ability to sing in tune. There were some shaky notes in between the big ones.

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Ashley Sullivan

Ashley Sullivan, 25– I had to rewind and get her name and age when I saw her waving a golden ticket. I had already moved on, assuming she was toast when she started channeling her inner Liza Minnelli.

Victoria Huggins, 16– This kid isn’t going to the finals, but she could be cast as Larry the Cable Guy’s daughter in his next movie. Did you see that dress? Rip off the sleeves, and she’s already in costume. The accent is perfect. Let’s roll tape, fellers….

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Melinda Ademi

Melinda Ademi, 16– She looks like a Kardashian. If she can sing her looks won’t hurt. If she can’t, who cares?

Devyn Rush, 20– Cute kid, weak voice.

Briell Von Hugel, 16– Charming Boston accent and huge pipes, but her top end is taking puberty off and she needs to learn how to breath. Check back in a few years.

Travis Orlando, 16– He is all throat when he reaches for the high notes; a little Idol coaching could go a long way with him.