American Idol Season 11: Killing Us With Kindness

BlogHer Original Post

Ahhh...another year, another season of American Idol. Over the years I've run the gamut from loyal fan to fair weather friend, only tuning in to the final twelve in recent years, preferring not to get emotionally attached to hopefuls and watch their dreams smashed after experiencing some ups and downs in my own creative career.

Still, spanning the decade, I've been to three tapings, including last year's Season Finale with BlogHer Co founder and Idol Recapper Extraordinaire Elisa Camahort as my date. I hit on Gordon Ramsay much to my husband's chagrin. It ruled.

But Season 11? It seems to be something of a different animal. Last night after the NFL Championships ended the fates aligned and I caught the usually painful Audition Round (taped on the USS Midway just steps from where BlogHer '11 was held!). Instead of the usual William Hung's and Pants on the Ground, there were inspiring stories of perseverance and really. strong. voices.

After the fate of precursors like PopStars (remember when we first met Nicole Scherzinger, America?) I never imagined back in season one that this show would have contributed to the musical landscape in the way that it has.  To my younger-self's surprise, American Idol appears to be finding a way to evolve. This time, it's grown a heart, delivering aspiration by the truckload. J.Lo is charming beyond words (I know, I'm shocked too), Randy lends a familiar anchor to the show, and Steven?  Well...Steven is kind of a gross lech, but he brings musical credibility and comic relief.

And then because my DVR knows me better than I know myself, we discovered it had dutifully recorded last week's premier episodes while I was freezing my buns off in Utah.  Husband, Toddler, and I agree: This season?  Is shaping up to be one hell of a competition.

{Aside: What's with the new logo?  It's so different and makes me feel like it's the future which creeps me out.  Is it not new?  It's at least new-ish, right?}

The age of digital sharing is integrating right into the show, contestants are now sending in their own footage of their Idol journeys which adds a nice layer.  As always, the family photo montages are plentiful as contestant's stories begin to unfold, and it's no different for Jane from California, who is just as lovely and genuine as they come as she describes without pretense living in the shadow of her famous father, Jim Carrey.

Okay, so I have nothing bad to say about Jane Carrey. I like her thinking and her voice is lovely. Also I hope you watched that video because it is freaking adorable when J.Lo goes: "I worked with Jim, do you remember me? I was one of the Fly Girls!!!" Own it, J.Lo.

{Another aside? My toddler, who started out complaining that she wanted to watch D-D-D-D-D-Dora, by this point in the show was dancing like a fool to a montage of Golden Tickets flying out the door set to Katy Perry.  Awesome.}

Next up? More daddy issues in the form of Jason "Wolf" Hamlin -- his guitar crafting father passed away about two years ago, and it's clear it left a void in his son's life. When the Judges invited Jason to break the rules by plucking out a tune on his father's handmade gitfiddle, his rendition of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues reeked of the pain and gave me the chills. J. Lo too.  Really looking forward to see what he's got in store.

And I know last week's episodes are so LAST WEEK, but I can't help myself from saying just one thing:

How lucky is Steven Tyler that this girl's father didn't go all roid rage on him?

HOT AND HUMID LIKE YOUR FIFTEEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTER, said the musician to the professional athlete.  Ahem.

(Also how huge is that huge fifteen year old?! Good thing she's talented and stunning, and could also probably kick the ass of anyone who gave her a bad time.)

Okay two things -- The return of Colton Dixon (painfully booted to the shock of everyone -- especially himself -- last year) was kind of the most annoying part of the show. The way he rained on his sister Schuyler's parade and then feigned modesty badly made me queasy. But the way they didn't even hug each other when they got their matching Golden Tickets made me kind of excited for the inevitable drama between the musical sibs.

Oh, and there's a contestant named Phillip Phillips who rather than being a serial killer is a really fantastic singer, and could become a household name(s).

{Fear not, Elisa will be back with her genius recaps later in the season!}

Are you watching Idol this year? 

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