The tenth season of American Idol premiered last night with Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez in the judges’ seats. “I decided to become a judge because we can actually take somebody and change their life,” said the former Fly Girl at the start of the two-hour show. “I want them to be great. I want them to be a superstar. I think I’m going to be compassionate. I’m not in the business of crushing spirits.” So how did she do behind the table at the New Jersey auditions?
First to try out was Rachel Zevita, who had made it to Hollywood in Season 6 before she got cut on her first day, all of which Lopez actually remembered: “Me and Marc were sitting at home thinking ‘Why didn’t that girl go through?” she said. After Zevita gave a lukewarm performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” Lopez still gave her a pass. “I’m going to be honest, this wasn’t the best audition you can give . . . I’m gonna put you through on what I remember.’”
Then followed a few more yeses before it was time to turn someone away. The singer was Achille Lovle from the Ivory Coast, and she sang Madonna’s “Dress You Up.” It was obvious that she didn’t have the chops, but Lopez had a hard time saying “no.” “Oh God, oh this is awful. I hate this,” she said. “Why did I sign up for this? I want to go home.”
One of the most memorable performances was given by Tiffany Rios, a Puerto Rican dance instructor who was inspired to become a singer after watching Lopez in Selena as a second grader. Before auditioning she said, “I want to make Jennifer Lopez cry,” but it was she who couldn’t keep it together as soon as she saw her childhood idol. Lopez gave her a reassuring hug, and Rios rocked her audition, albeit while wearing a bikini top with big silver stars attached it. Her rendition of Celine Dion’s The Power of Love was enough to put her through.
As the show progressed, Lopez toughened up with the no’s. Yet she still softened any blows with her perfect glossy-lipped smile and a bit of constructive criticism when possible. “It’s good, Jennifer put a positive spin on it, I like that, I like that,” said Randy during one audition. “My mom was a teacher,” said Lopez by way of explanation.
So far, J.Lo gets an A+ for following through on her vow to be compassionate. We can’t wait to see what the rest of the season holds.