Welcome back to Mr. Dawg's Wild Ride, one of the longest-running attractions in this fantasyscape we call Reality! American Idol is back, and set squatter Randy Jackson's got a new trio of friends, two of whom hate each other. Don't worry, it's fun! You're going to LOVE watching Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey come up with hundreds of slightly different ways to paraphrase "You're an old bitch" and "You're a talentless hack." Really! Just look at Keith Urban. He's thrilled about it.
By the second hour of NYC auditions, Nicki had completely taken over the panel -- shouting out directions to the contestants and always speaking first. You know, it's generally fine if someone feels the need to do that. Compared to the autopilot judging on The X Factor and even Idol last season, I am thrilled to have someone in the driver's seat, and beyond ecstatic that all four judges appeared to be awake and even [gasp!] interested in what was happening. The question is whether millions of American Idol viewers will accept and enjoy that our season 12 chauffeur appears to be rainbow sherbet wig enthusiast Nicki Minaj. It's honestly a lot to swallow. And it tastes nothing like delicious sherbet. Not yet.
I was impressed and surprised by how many "okay" contestants the judges turned down -- especially in the case of cancer survivor and Broadway hopeful Evan Ruggerio. Maybe they knew a White Guy With Guitar And One Leg would too easily win it all, and that's why they cut him so soon. They were ultimately right -- his voice was fine, but nothing special. But I imagine that if they proceed to let truly mediocre contestants onto the Hollywood round, viewers could complain about Evan, who was inspiring and sweet. I was also surprised they turned away Jessica Rose Kartalis after one botched guitar/vocal mishap, and especially after Randy had ridden the ferry (a boat, Ryan!) to go and retrieve her all the way from Staten Island. This was refreshing, though -- it's cool to see the judges express conviction and then carry it out. We all know when some of the golden ticketers won't stand a chance in Hollywood. Better to get the disappointment out of the way now.
No, Keith, Google it, I hope so, J. Lo please stop interning in the Idol graphics department, Yes, and MAYBE.
NEXT: Heyyyyyy, congrats! You're going to Hollywood! Who are you?