'American Idol' recap: How sweet it is

Janell is helping out with Idol this year, and you should know. She hearts Steven Tyler. A little:

I have to start this recap with a disclaimer: I love Steven Tyler. I know the show made a big deal out of him last night, and showed us a few girls losing their gaga over him. But that's TV love. Like the inexplicable love people have for Paula Abdul that makes them chant her name. I don't get that. And I know there's a significant portion of the population, including my husband, that doesn't get Steven Tyler. But I'm not on TV, I just dig him, for real. I make my small children dance to Aerosmith in the kitchen. I loved him on the show Wednesday night, and I will continue to love him after they crown the next American Idol. Anyone is free to criticize him in the comments, but I don't know if I will, so consider yourselves warned: this is a Steven Tyler-friendly recap.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will also point out that I am ambivalent toward Jennifer Lopez, but I appreciate her earnest effort to bring glitter eyeshadow to the masses.

The judges arrive in New Orleans. Steven is wearing a little black hat with a feather poking up, and I almost have to say something bad about him. Then he says, "You know what they say about a little hat - it's good for a little [bleep]," and he tosses the hat away. I'm glad I didn't have to try to understand the hat.


First up is

Jordan Dorsey

, age 21. His mother, out in the hall, is the first person this season to tell Ryan that he looks taller on television. Jordan teaches piano and vocal lessons to kids. He sings “Over the Rainbow,” changing the tempo in the middle. Jennifer squeals and says she has goose pimples. He gets a golden ticket.

Here’s a little montage of alligators and swamps. This reminds me of one of my favorite genetically-altered creature movies, “Frankenfish.” I’m not joking. It’s set in the swamps on houseboats, it has love, bad guys, naked hippies (who get eaten) (spoiler!), and a giant Frankenfish. Check it out and thank me later.


Sarah Sellers

, age 28 from Texas. She reminds me of our very own SKK, with the blonde hair and sassy glasses. They spend a lot of time saying she has big lips, to compare her to the big-lipped Steven Tyler. She sings “To Make You Feel My Love.” Steven says he was sold “the second you laid eyes on me. You’ll get it later.” Golden ticket.



Jovany Barreto

, age 23. His parents are from Cuba. He thinks Jennifer Lopez is a goddess in her own right, but then she went and married his idol Marc Anthony, so now he’s crazy about her. Jovany works in a shipyard, and his coworkers dared him to take his shirt off in front of J.Lo. He sings a Spanish song, then gushes over Jennifer. According to Steven’s “melodic sensibility, it was very delicious.” Golden ticket. Jovany begins removing his vest, and Randy feels that he and Steven should join him in lifting their shirts. Jennifer is peeved that they’re ruining her private show. Jovany is shirtless and, what can I say, he looks good. Randy lifts up his shirt to show off a belly, and Steven pulls his shirt up all the way to his neck for complete torso enjoyment. Not bad for an old guy.

Did you know that Randy Jackson is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana?

Jacquelyn Dupree

, age 24, comes in bearing photocopies of his high school yearbook so we can see Randy at a dance and doing shot put. Jacquelyn’s uncle was Randy’s football coach, so he comes in and he and Randy have some manly bonding. She sings “I’ll Stand by You,” and has a powerful voice. She gets a golden ticket. Sometimes, when Steven gets a serene face listening to a good audition and closes his eyes, he reminds me of Yoda. Yet I still find him sexy. (Steven, that is, not Yoda.)

Brett Loewenstern


is 16 and has big red wavy hair. He describes himself as a red apple in a pile of green apples. Since 3rd grade he’s been picked on, teased, and called a dork. Then he had an epiphany to be happy in his shell. His message to kids and bullies is to be yourself. Before he sings, Randy asks him what’s in his hair, and Brett tells us it’s curling cream and baby oil. Steven approves. He sings “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and Steven and Jennifer cuddle and lipsync. They call him hot and fabulous. Golden ticket. When he’s gone, Jennifer says his hair was very well-conditioned.

Gabriel Franks

is 24, Steven calls him “another man representing with his hair.” Although it’s not as well-conditioned as Brett’s. Gabriel supposedly won a contest for looking like Steven Tyler. Steven says that his mouth is more like Mick Jagger’s, though. I don’t see it until he starts singing, and then, yes, total big Mick Jagger mouth. I thought he sounded decent, although his facial expressions were terrible. But I was wrong, it’s a solid no from all three judges.

During a montage of bad singers, there’s a rapper who is screaming “Does anybody hear me” while squeezing his eyes shut with emotion so he can’t see Randy’s hand waving to cut him off. Then a ship outside loudly blows its horn. That stops him. After a few beats of silence, Jennifer whispers, “Awkward!”


Alex Attardo

. He’s 18, and he went to Idol camp at 15. He’s not good. Randy jokes, “I guess that camp really worked.” Randy tells him it was bad, and Alex is so stricken that Steven and Jennifer try to soften it. Randy steps up to be the mean judge with brutal honesty and says it was terrible. I’m glad to see Randy being such an active participant now.

Jacee Badeaux

is 15, although Ryan thinks he looks 12. He’s got a higher voice and nice control. Jennifer thinks he’s so sweet and cute, Steven likes the sparkle in his eyes and gives him “a double helping of ooh yeah.”  He gets a golden ticket, and he looks like he doesn’t have the emotional range to get super excited. I’m worried that Hollywood week will eat him.

Finally, here’s

Paris Tassin

, 23. She got pregnant when she was 18. At a doctor’s appointment she learned that her daughter had hydrocephalous, excess fluid in the brain, and they recommended that she not have the baby. But she did. Daughter Kiera is healthy, but has hearing loss and wears hearing aids. She sings “Temporary Home,” and Jennifer starts to cry because “I felt it.” She gets a golden ticket, and Steven tells her to go hold her baby girl. Because he’s sweet.

After some flashbacks, we hear that 37 people made it through. Then Jennifer, on her way out the door, stops to meet Paris’s daughter and give her a hug. Because she’s sweet, too.

Next week the auditions are in Milwaukee. Will we continue to see high numbers of golden tickets? Will this be the sweetest season yet? Will Steven Tyler bring us world peace? Tune in and see.