Tuesday, February 09, 2010

American Idol: Ellen goes to Hollywood

So, Ellen DeGeneres made her debut tonight on "American Idol" and turned out to be pretty sharp and not just going for laughs at every turn. (Though her making people do the hokey-pokey was, in fact, funny.)

But what really jumped out at me about our first Hollywood episode (which, as usual, is the first time I watch each season) was how many really good singers I heard. Andrew Garcia's acoustic guitar reinvention of "Straight Up" made me sit up and take notice, and he was one of a bunch of very talented people with guitars, including the Zooey Deschanel-sounding Lilly Scott, Didi Benami making a Kara-written song sound great, Crystal Bowersox doing the best "Natural Woman" the show's heard in a while and Janell Wheeler coming across like a less nervous, more vocally-polished Brooke White. And in the non-instrumental category, Mary Powers has a fine rock voice. I could see several of these people go a long way if things break right, and I could see myself enjoying them greatly if they do.

What did everybody else think, both of Ellen's debut and the talent on display?

20 comments:

Frederick said...

Alan, I start watching at HWeek as well and I have to say they did a good job of showing talented people this year early on. Last year some people who made it to the top 32 I never heard sing once before they showed up.

Good start to AI - but I detest the group singing part so Im skipping tomorrow night. If I want to see bad teen angst drama I'll go out and buy Dawson's Creek or the OC on DVD

Anonymous said...

aww come on let's at least use "one tree hill" for bad teen angst drama... the oc gave us Taylor Townsend

"So what. So what if I did rent a homosexual for the evening and pay him with rare collectibles from Asian cinema."

loved ellen

michael said...

maybe you didnt mean it that way and i ll give you the benefit of the doubt but the comment of making the kara song sound good sort of implies that she cant write a good song. No Boundaries aside, she has written some fantastic songs that have become big hits including one of last years biggest hits "Sober" by Pink which someone covered on IDOL tonight. I am not a fan of her as an idol judge at all and if your annoyance at her stems from that i completely understand but as a singer/songwriter/producer she has mad talent and thats why Pink, Celine, Kelly Clarkson etc want to work with her. If you didnt mean it that way I sincerely apologize, its just how i read it. Peace!

Lauren said...

I watched Idol for the first time ever tonight, and was pleasantly surprised! I looked down on it for years, but the news of Ellen showing up to judge got me interested. I loved her "step up, okay now step back, step a little to your left" bit too ;)

Ian said...

Andrew Garcia was *fantastic*. I would pay money for a full-length rendition of his "Straight Up". 19 Entertainment, are you listening?

I was initially horrified when Ellen was announced as the judge, but she was actually pretty good tonight, and I think it's good to have someone who's not in the music industry on the panel. Now if only they could ditch Dioguardi.

Veritas said...

I keep writing these long rant style comments that are emotional elaborations of what I see as the central themes that have been neglected, but I've deleted them all to say only this:

If Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak are the creators, along with other writers, of this show, then it is THEIR show and THEIR right to bring the show to where ever it is they conceived it as going. If they truly had these sorts of designs for the story all along, then there's nothing we can do as witnesses to the art other than accept or reject it on aesthetic grounds at the END. If the writers are NOT compromising their ideals and their own creativity as artists, and aren't merely trying to bring in new "viewers" by changing their original creative impulses and Reason, then we must accept their creative flow as unalterable and natural.

I love Chuck from season 1 and 2 more any other TV show I've ever seen. There's something special about this show that we'll always remember. Perhaps season 3 will be just as special; but we must wait.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Veritas, I think you have the wrong thread. Chuck controversy's one post over.

Adam said...

Hollywood Week never fails. Idol officially started tonight.

christopher paul said...

One more O in Zooey Deschanel.

Craig Ranapia said...

So, Ellen DeGeneres made her debut tonight on "American Idol" and turned out to be pretty sharp and not just going for laughs at every turn.

Alan: Were you surprised by that? I'm not a huge fan of her talk show or sitcoms, I think anyone who started her career in the pretty hard school of stand-up comedy would have to get a sense of what does and doesn't work.

I don't think she's ever going to be the lesbian answer to Simon Cowell, but she strikes me as pretty sharp and her non-music industry perspective is a good addition to the mix. (Some folks can sing like angels but be utterly clueless about the performance aspect.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Were you surprised by that?

Not so much surprised as relieved. I hoped she would be a good job, and Quentin Tarantino has shown us that musical talent or experience are in no way pre-requisites for being a good judge on this show. But I had also heard horror stories from So You Think You Can Dance fans who complained that she did nothing but crack jokes during her guest judging stint there, and I also wasn't sure how willing she'd be to tell people they sucked. For one day, at least, she was.

LA said...

Surprised I didn't hate Ellen. It seems like there's a lot of talent this season. Do they get down to 12 at the end of tomorrow's show or do we have one more week of Hollywood "Week?"

Rachel said...

Alan, I was one of those SYTYCD fans, and she was horrible as a judge then. Ellen was MUCH improved this time and seemed to be able to mix being truthful and funny very well. I was pleasantly surprised.

Talent wise the women seem to be dominating this year. Both in the auditions and Hollywood week so far I haven't really been impressed with any guys. Andrew Garcia is the only one so far and I think that is mostly to do with his choice of song and actually pulling it off more than really strong vocal talent.

Mike F said...

I just wish there was a lot more of the actual singing...

At the very least in this day and age, all the singers auditions and hollywood rounds should be put up on their website. Heck, I'd even pay a few bucks to see them all.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Do they get down to 12 at the end of tomorrow's show or do we have one more week of Hollywood "Week?"

One more week, with two hours next Tuesday and an hour next Wednesday which will bring forth the top 24.

The top 24 list has apparently been leaked, so Google if you don't want to wait.

Jerry said...

Ellen was fine.

It appears there's a lot of talent this year, but let's wait and see what happens because sometimes when singers are asked to do anything other than one genre, they tend to suck. This season has been fine though and I like the chemistry amongst the judges and the talent seems strong.

Kimmy said...

Loved Hollywood Tuesday. Ellen will prove to be exactly what we needed. The absence of Paula so far this season has been so refreshing. Now we still were reminded of Paula with her song, Straight Up. And to me, that's how I want to remember her.

YAY!

Maura said...

I think Ellen did a good job, but I was expecting that, not having seen her on SYTYCD. She's a welcome addition. And I loved her "Hokey-pokey" thing.

I hope they get rid of Kara after this season. I've been liking her less and less this year, and her making Cute Cowboy Dude take off his shirt during auditions was the last straw.

I am an unapologetic fan of "Straight Up" (the song and the video), and was impressed with Andrew Garcia's version. He probably is the best of the guys, at least the ones we've seen so far.

Overall, AI does seem to have a good group of people to choose from. I'm looking forward to seeing how well the top 12 hold up, although I hate watching people bomb out.

blinky said...

I am proud to say I am the only living American who has not seen an entire episode of American Idol.
The only time I have seen any part of it was when it ran over into the next program.
What is a Simon Cowell?

Jill Mader said...

I thought it was a great start to what I like to think of as the "real" American Idol - actual singers instead of the jokes we see in the audition rounds. Looks like there are a lot of strong women this season, with the exception of the guy who sang Straight Up. I was also pleased to find out that Ellen is equally honest and funny as a judge.

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