“Will hellfire save matches? Fuck a duck and see what hatches!” With these gentle words, Steven Tyler introduced himself to the viewers of American Idol on last night’s Season Ten premiere. Man, this dude just did not shut up. The real winners were the contestants who managed to get through a whole verse of a song without an interruption from Tyler, who has no experience listening to other people sing, and who keeps jumping in with a “whooo!” or “yippity-yow!” or “I want my underwear back!” whenever he senses the contestant’s nostrils poised to flare for a breath. Let’s hope he stays this obnoxiously hyper all season, because he sure knows how to do obnoxious.
The season premiere was basically a lavish infomercial for the new judges. The audition episodes are usually a freak show of tone-deaf hopefuls, but Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are really the ones auditioning here, while Randy Jackson is already pissed off that nobody notices him still hanging around. They’re all as well-lit, well-styled, well-rested and well-medicated as they’re going to be, despite a little static-cling action going on between the dueling Tyler/Lopez hair extensions.
Last night (whoooo!) had a montage (Lord have mercy!) of (aaaw baby! You gotta reel those wild horses in!) … excuse me, Mr. Tyler? Do you mind? Talking here. Thanks. As I was saying (Boom boom ska-powza! You’re Italian with tattoos! I’m in love!) — ah, the hell with it. Basically, Tyler talked a lot and drooled over the ladies. Ryan Seacrest introduced Tyler with clips from the 1986 “Walk This Way” video and the boast that Aerosmith is “the best-selling American rock band in history.” (Not the Eagles? Beach Boys? Well done, Aerosmith!) “I’m so thirsty and hungry to try to find a Janis Joplin for this era,” he explained, shortly before yippity-yowing over a 16-year-old contestant’s miniskirt. Fun fact: he’s 62! The age difference between him and a 16-year-old is bigger than the age difference between him and Strom Thurmond.
As for Lopez, even Seacrest sounded confused calling her “the definition of a triple threat,” but at least they didn’t let her sing. She was working the “oh it’s so hard to send people home” thing a little too hard, but she definitely turned on the charm. She hasn’t looked so radiant since Anaconda. And Randy … he’s still here, dawg. Not sure why they set the meet-the-new-judges montage to the Dandy Warhols song “Bohemian Like You,” but that’s perhaps a key to how nutty this season will be, along with Seacrest’s spit-take-inducing claim that winning Idol is “the most illustrious prize in music.”
The contestants? Freaks! I am already rooting for Ashley Sullivan, the dangerously unstable Britney obsessive (“me and you, BFLs for life, my Sagittarian sister, heck yeah!”), who announced, “The mainstream needs to get with Liza Minnelli!” Couldn’t agree more, except (1) are you trapped in 2008? “Show-tune pop stars” already happened and you missed it, and (2) Steven Tyler is more Liza than Liza is right now. It was funny when one of the contestants walked in as Seacrest announced, “Our first 15-year-old!” It probably wasn’t Tyler’s first 15-year-old, if you know what I’m saying. When one schlumpy dude sang a lame version of Ray Charles’s “Hallelujah I Love Her So,” Tyler started singing along, drumming, doing everything short of slapping the poor kid’s face in a bid for camera time. Rude, sure, but pretty awesome.
This was just opening night. The real test for the new team will be how they hold up once the punishingly long Idol season reaches the live episodes (which isn’t until freaking March). But they all looked downright dewy compared to the haggard wrecks they’ll be in a few weeks. Like the man says, we’ll see what hatches.