It's a debate as to what is being judged more closely and harshly on the new season of "American Idol": the would-be idols, or the new judges.
First impressions after Week One and last night: the contestants are still a mixed bag of talent and bozos.
The new judges are a breath of fresh air.
If this sounds like an indictment against the sour-pussed Simon Cowell, so be it.
The new twosome, former Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler and singer/dancer/actress Jennifer Lopez, have shown the ability to render judgment without quarts of vinegar. It comes out in teaspoonfuls from Tyler and Lopez.
The third judge, Randy Jackson, seems to be at times trying to compensate for the loss of Cowell by going overboard with mean-spirited comments---even when they're obviously undeserved.
They fall flat coming out of Jackson's mouth.
But the trio of judges makes for a nice blend.
Tyler is funny, Lopez is adorable and has empathy, and Jackson is the returning vet who feels the need to remind his colleagues that not all of these singers can, you know, SING.
Speaking of which, what possesses some of these folks to show up, wait hours and hours, and then belt out sounds that defy description?
On national TV, no less.
Dreams are great. But doesn't reality ever sink in?
What's more, it's odd that the most unlistenable contestants are often the most defiant and angry ones, after they're shown the door.
"I can sing better than half the people here!" one woman shrieked after her audition went over like a lead balloon.
"Is it because I'm not SKINNY?!" she pressed on.
"This has nothing to do with looks," Jackson calmly explained. "It's about talent."
The not-skinny-one would have none of it; she stormed off, declaring that she didn't want to be on camera anymore. When a hand-held camera followed her out of the room, she glared at it.
Clearly, the producers of "Idol" choose to show us the bottom feeders for effect, but I wonder how many of them there really are. Surely there can't be THAT many delusional people, can there be?
Tyler and Lopez: a breath of fresh "Idol" air
But back to Tyler and Lopez.
I like how the newbies let the untalented contestants down gently. I like how they are truly captivated by the good voices. And I like how it seems to truly bother them when they have to squash someone's "Idol" dream.
Jackson is OK, but he's old news. Tyler and Lopez are all the rage.
Critics are already out on Tyler and Lopez, saying that they said "yes" to too many contestants.
After years of Cowell's snide remarks, it's refreshing to see that people can be rejected without being humiliated.
After all, they often do that pretty well all by themselves.