American Idol season premiere recap: J. Lo, Take the Wheel?

The returning judge steamrolls new judge Harry Connick Jr. in the season 13 premiere
Ep. 01 | Aired Jan 15, 2014

TA DA! The Bronx Steamroller grants Hollywood access.


Sam Woolf, 17, is a sensitive guitar player with a treble clef tattoo on his arm that is killing Harry Connick Jr. Because it's lame? Hell no! Harry loves it; he's just conflicted because he'd just told his 17-year-old daughter she could not get a tattoo. I wonder what his daughter wanted to get. My guess is a bass clef drowning in a sea of washed-up pianos sold for parts. The ultimate rebellious act!) "That tattoo looks frickin' great on you," Harry raves to Sam. "Does it?!" wondered Sam. DOES IT? Sam seems smart, and he's the sensitive, delicate type young girls could enjoy, I suppose. I wasn't fond of the speedy, auction-style rendition of "Lego House" and question this kid's star potential, but you never know. I'm getting pretty old these days. And Sam could have other music-inspired tattoos. Perhaps we just haven't seen enough of him yet.

The premiere was big on clumping three decent candidates into one quickly inter-cut segment, which I'll call Power Chords from here on out. Power Chord #1: Ethan Thompson, 23, Lindsey Pedicone, 18, and Jillian Jensen, 20. Wait a minute…. yep, I remember Jillian. She'd made it to the "judges' homes" round of The X Factor, season 2 and was ultimately rejected by Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas after she overdid it on Demi's suggestion to show more personality onstage. She had a big school-bullying plot line and everything. We barely hear her tonight, but Harry Connick Jr. will certainly remember her. "Will and Grace was one of my favorite shows in the entire world," she beamed as he granted her request for a hug.

Okay. Not blown away yet (though that Ethan Thompson is cute enough in a cleaned-up Phillip Phillips-y way to win this whole thing, I'm calling it right now). The judges turn down pretty young waitress Taylor Hildack, 19, but give in to Jersey girl Stephanie Hanvey, 16. To me these were very similar contestants, except Stephanie wore a leopard print hat and told J. Lo she'd opened up so many doors for Latinas. I can't remember a single thing about her vocals or presentation. But who could forget the visual of Stephanie groping desperately from a hug-pile with her parents on the floor in an attempt to embrace J. Lo? Well, probably a lot of people. I don't really see why they'd go for this one.

Keith: "The singing for me needs some work, but it's not just a singing show." Harry: "I think your voice needs some time to develop." Jennifer: "There's something emotionally lacking to me." In conclusion…. ?!

Oh, a straw hat and a white sundress. That's pleasant. Morgan Deplitch, 15, is another weak yes. She attempts a very yelly and breathless rendition of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals' "Paris (Ooh La La)" -- deemed age-inappropriate by Harry Connick Jr., who didn't wanna hear a 15-year-old "singing about shaving me smooth." Sorry, but LOL at this because it truly only sounds even remotely dirty now that he's repeating it like that. "You're such a dad!" J. Lo whines, then realizes she should probably save face. "I mean, I'm a mom." Never forget.

Harry Connick Jr.'s proclamation that line cook and R. Kelly-Michael Jackson-Luther Vandross wannabe James Earl was "the coolest frickin' guy I've ever seen in my life is sarcastic, right? Harry Connick Jr. has such a highly evolved way of maneuvering about this world. "I want him to open my show. Just telling those little jokes? That's hysterical." It's not. He knows it's not! He's a genius.

"What's pentatonics?" UH OH. With that simple, begging-by-viewers-to-be-answered question about a musical term, we launch into the J. Lo, Take the Wheel portion of the show, which could last the rest of the season. As Harry explains following Jacquelina Verna's audition, he's not as taken by the smoke and mirrors of pentatonics as Keith and Jennifer are. J. Lo has not a clue what he's talking about, so he begins to explain. "What's wrong with challenging America? Pentatonics are the classic go-to for R&B singers -- the five notes everybody does the runs on…" AND SHE CUTS HIM OFF! "You know too damn much," she announces, bravely protecting America from new intelligence. Um, hello? I wanted to hear the rest of that!

NEXT: Don't look now, but it's two X Factor contestants

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