Welcome back to American Idol, rechristened for season 13 as Oh My God Jennifer Lopez Is Looking at Me.
Along with AWESOME new judge Harry Connick Jr. and returning judge Keith Urban, J. Lo is back on what Ryan Seacrest's voiceover calls "the best panel we've ever assembled." Somewhere on a distant luxury island or Hollywood hill, Simon Cowell blinks, breathes deeply, drinks another shot of green stuff, and continues to not watch.
"I really want it to be a dog fight," says multi-hyphenate Harry. Am I allowed to refer to your mom's favorite singer without including his last name and rank in his family? It feels weird. Anyway, I dig his intensity -- part of the reason last season was so disappointing was the lack of competitive spirit throughout. And who doesn't love dogs?
The Chamber, a shower stall of doom with a big green light on the wall, is a new thing this season; so far it's of zero consequence. Something needs to happen in there. Spiders? Fog? Fighting dogs? A creepy soundscape that throws off people's pitch? Raise the stakes a little.
There they are, the teeming masses of humanity. Kids hold up huge white signs with things like "DREAM" and "I AM ON MY WAY" and "DELUSIONAL!" on them. "Life can change today," a gruff dad begrudgingly admits. And we are ALL on our way to the New England Patriots Present: Ryan Seacrest. American Idol XIII is on!
As always, in these auditions recaps I'll only focus on the successful children, the ones who received golden tickets (that this year look more like nameplates for one's new desk job as an office temp). Let's get going!
Troy Durden, 28, is a confident bar singer from Boston. "I'm really good," he says. "If a 10 is the highest, I'm a hundred." NOT A PLAUSIBLE SCALE, dude. Your pentatonics are already way off. "Most of the time I get standing ovations," he goes on. "People love it." Well, that does tend to happen when you perform in front of all the drunk friends you invited to your bar. Anyway, Troy is cute and nice, despite that nonsense and the extreme twerking-related nonsense that follows as Troy sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," not that well. Harry just has a blank half-grin on his face that alternates between "Ehhhhh" and "This? This is where we're setting the bar? Where is my first of many classic Southern cocktails?"
Troy gets a golden ticket, but I think it's only so that the producers can work in this knee-slapper: "It is a long shot but it just…might…twerk!" the judges revel in unison.
"But listen, I want everybody to take you seriously, too," J. Lo's neon-hued scrunchie warns their bartender.
NEXT: Harry can't handle a 15-year-old singing 'shaving me smooth' (he's Southern)