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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 30 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

5 of the Best Moments From ABC’s ‘American Idol’ Premiere

Young talent surprised, golden tickets were given out, and wigs flew on the premiere of American Idol‘s debut season on it’s new network, ABC. The show boasts a new all-star judging panel featuring Motown legend Lionel Richie, pop phenom Katy Perry and country crooner Luke Bryan and this time around, the trio is determined to find a bona fide star, which is no small task. So let’s see how they fared as we talk about the top five moments from Sunday night’s premiere…

The Stories

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Contestant Dennis Lorenzo gives the judges a reason to smile [Credit: ABC]

One of the things the Idol franchise has always been famous for is bringing on contestants with stories that pull at your heartstrings and inspire you. The night’s second contestant, Ron Bultongez or “Congo Ron,” told the story of his family fleeing the Congo only to be disowned by his abusive father at a young age. Ron’s story made his rendition of James Bay’s “Let It Go” that much more touching and made Lionel reconsider his original decision and bring Ron back after turning him down the first time. Dennis Lorenzo, the night’s last auditionee, also told the story of his father, who died when he was young, and how he hoped to be there for his daughter before impressing the judges with his rendition of Allen Stone’s “Unaware.”

Young Talent

With Idol lowering it’s age limit to 15, the judges were hoping to see some of the country’s young talent deliver. 17-year-old Catie Turner opened the show with an original entitled “Twenty-First Century Machine” that wowed the judges with her songwriting abilities. 16 year-old Layla Spring, with her precious little sister Dixie in tow, served up a surprisingly soulful version of Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Loving You.”  And Alyssa Raghu was right on the money with her version of Ariana Grande and Nathan Sykes’ hit “Almost Is Never Enough.” The judges recognized the risk of putting through such young talent, but sometimes you have to invest in “polishing those diamonds,” as Lionel said.

Unexpected Surprises

One of the best things about Idol is when a contestant you’d never expect to blow you away does. This happened several times during the show’s opening night, with “worst anthem ever” singer Harper Grace,  who served up an original entitled “Yard Sale” and a cool take on Khalid’s “Young Dumb & Broke” in order to make her dream board come true. Noah Davis also brought the humor when he had a moment with Katy Perry discussing the meaning of the word “wig” before making her wig fly “all the way back to Arkansas” with his rendition of Rihanna and Mikky Ekko’s hit “Stay.” 17-year-old Zach D’Onofiro looked the part of a geek, with his themed socks for each of the judges, but then impressed with his deep singing voice as he took on Sinatra’s classic “The Way You Look Tonight” to earn himself a golden ticket.

Critiques

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The new judges – Lionel, Katy, and Luke – have plenty to say to the contestants this year. [Credit: ABC].

Before the season, we were promised no bad auditions and the night did pass with less of the public humiliation Idol has been known for in the past (see: Hung, William), but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get our share of “No’s” from the judges. Bubbly and bombastic broadway singer, Koby and Russian X-Factor winner Sardor Milano both had their dreams crushed when the judges told them that Idol wasn’t the right platform for them. I think they were correct. Both singers had big voices, but without the control or polish needed to be a pop singer. They even said no to teen heartthrob Benjamin Glaze, who snagged a kiss from Katy, but didn’t have the vocal chops to compete with some of the better talent from the day.

Idol Magic

What really drew me in was how authentic the show felt, even on a new network. ABC may be trying to pitch this as Idol’s “first season,” but there’s no ignoring the history that people like Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, Ruben Studdard and Kris Allen (all of whom were shown on the night’s broadcast) made during the show’s first 15 seasons. There were moments when the judges’ chemistry really clicked, or when unassuming people from humble beginnings stepped in front of them and mademagic happen. Maddie Poppe, with her version of “Rainbow Connection,” was the night’s high point. Her tone felt current, echoing singers like Brandi Carlile, Ellie Goulding and Halsey, and her ability to tell a story was unparalleled. She didn’t get much screen time, but I have a good feeling about her, and that is what makes me excited about Idol‘s new season.

With the return of Idol, so comes the return of our recaps. Idol will be airing on Sunday and Monday nights until mid-April, when the finals begin and it airs on Sundays only. For those who are following my recaps through the season, I will publish on Tuesdays mornings until the finals (except this week, where I will publish two articles) and then move to Mondays to cover the Sunday show.

Let us know in the comments what you thought about Idol’s premiere, the new judges, and the first crop of contestants that we saw.

Featured image: ABC
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