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'American Idol' Recap: Are the Judges Already Losing It?

In New Orleans, Steven, Jennifer and Randy performed as hard as ever

January 21, 2011 8:49 AM ET
New Orleans: Contestants check-in for their chance to become the next American Idol.
New Orleans: Contestants check-in for their chance to become the next American Idol.
Michael Becker / FOX

With only an hour to showcase their talents, American Idol's loudest stars outdid themselves in making their characters known. Below, a breakdown:

S.Tyler was as high in the second installment of American Idol as he was the night before, only this time he had a focus. Lips. A freak show named Gabriel Franks arrived, with lips Steven insisted did not look like his (though Gabriel badly wanted them to). Gabriel's were more like Mick Jagger's lips, according to Steven, and no matter what history Gabs pulled out – the Steven Tyler look-alike competition he'd won, the people who'd sworn up and down that you, Gabriel Franks, look exactly like Steven Tyler – the real Steven Tyler resisted. He and his judge friends laughed the kid out of the room. Not so for Sarah Sellers, a blonde from Texas whose lips earned her keep. “Where did you get those lips from?” Steven asked in a tone both thrilled and accusatory. Randy decided one of Sarah's ancestors must have sexed with Steven to get them. Sarah looked uncomfortable. “...you never know?” she offered. Despite her unspecial voice and notable lack of sad story line, she scored a ticket to Hollywood. “You had me sold from the second you laid eyes on me,” went Steven. He really seemed to think their lips made them interchangeable!

J.Lo, meanwhile, focused on her own body. Goosebumps are apparently Jennifer's talent radar. Get a song going, blow some air in her direction, and she'll call you a genius. 21-year-old Jordan Dorsey, piano teacher and general bringer of music to the community, gave Jennifer “goose bumps all over her body” with his version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Same for gawky redhead Brett Loewenstern, whose ability to sing "Bohemian Rhapsody" shocked the judges (But he's so redheaded!). Jennifer lost it. She cut Brett off before he could affect her skin anymore. “Two goose pimples and it's still only morning,” she said, shaking her head. The bodily assault continued as a mother of a special needs child came on to sing "Mother of a Special Needs Child" by Carrie Underwood (just kidding, it's called "Mama's Song" "Temporary Home"), and water leaked from Jennifer's eyes. She pointed at her own face. “When you sang, I felt it,” she said. Tickets for all!

Finally, Randy worked on escaping his middle child status. Between the attractive elder sister who gets all the praise and the loose and kooky baby who does what he wants, Randy had to try hard to be necessary. He jumped to join a lovesick ship builder whose shipyard buddies had bet him he wouldn't go shirtless in front of Jennifer. Jennifer wanted none of it. “Just let him do his thing!” she shrieked at Randy, as the ship builder flexed his pecs. Steven was already up by now, shirtless, attention-hungry, and in mid-hug with the ship-builder, leaving Randy to half-heartedly tug at his shirt and pat his belly alone. Luck seemed to turn Randy's way when his old football coach's niece arrived ready to compete. The shiny-haired Jacqueline Dupree trotted out her uncle – who could vouch that yes, Randy is a person – and dropped a cache of yellowed high school pictures right on the judges' table. Randy seemed like the only one who cared. “Wow! Aw! Look at this! This is nice!” he said, as Jennifer sifted soundlessly through his memories.

As for the contestants, roly-poly Jacee Badeaux is so far a clear front-runner for crowd favorite. The kid is 15 years old and sings like a sexy angel. With stats like that, he might outperform the judges.

Earlier: Rob Sheffield recaps American Idol's season premiere

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