Ellen Makes Her Idol Debut
How’d the talk show host handle Hollywood Week?
American Idol Hollywood Week. It’s pretty much become synonymous with grueling hours, insane pressure, epic meltdowns, and cloying elevator rides to DESTINY. But this year, there’s even more resting on Hollywood Week: the very future of American Idol itself.
Because Paula Abdul, apparently, was that important.
We were on the edge of our couches last night as Ellen DeGeneres took over the blissful incoherent one’s seat at the judge’s table for the first time and we’re … umm … not sure. She was funny, but with contestants like Skiibowski around, do we really need that from the judges? She gave Simon Cowell a hard time, but so does every crummy singer from sea to shining sea. She’s business savvy, but songwriter Kara DioGuardi kind of has that ground covered. So though we weren’t annoyed by Ellen — and it was a possibility, given her yuk-filled So You Think You Can Dance cameo — we were left wondering if a fourth judge was even necessary. And if not … does Simon’s spot remain open after this season, forcing Randy Jackson to drop the dog pound facade and get nasty to balance the panels’ personality?
We couldn’t wonder long, though — there was another, unannounced shakeup at the judges’ table that required our immediate attention. Yes, that’s right. We’re talking about the sudden and unexpected disappearance of Idol‘s ubiquitous red Coke glasses, which were rudely replaced with Vitamin Water vase-barrel-mug-thingies. What’s next? Dropping Ford commercials for a ditty about the latest Vespa? Mark our words. When people talk about the beginning of the end, this will be it, folks.
Also: there was singing! We were completely blown away by Andrew Garcia, who honored the absent Paula with a folksy spin on her classic “Straight Up.” Equally amazing was Janell Wheeler — we were crazy for her take on Estelle’s “American Boy.”
Overall, it was a strong night for anyone who could play the guitar — alterna-jazz chanteuse Lilly Scott, brand new dad Michael Lynche, waitress Didi Benami (who sang a Kara DioGuardi song we liked so much we might forgive the judge for “No Boundaries.” Might.), Casey “the new Bo Bice” James, and tattooed single mom Crystal Bowesox all made it through tonight’s sudden death singing round. Meanwhile, great audition stories like Vanessa Wolfe from the middle-of-nowhere Tennessee, theatrical cancer survivor Justin Williams, and 16-year-old sister to four Down syndrome brothers Maddy Curtis got the axe.
Don’t feel too bad for them — they got to ride in an aeroplane!
After one night, we went from 181 to 96 singers, on the road to 24. Tonight: sleep deprivation! Petty arguments! Bruised egos! Poorly hidden personality disorders! Chastisement, pleading, anger, and acceptance. You know — group round.
Tell us: What did you think of Ellen’s first night judging? Who’s your early pick for American Idol?
TV and internet writer Megan Lynn lives in glamorous North Hollywood, CA, with her husband and terrier mix, and requires that all potential friends pass the Veronica Mars test.