OK.Â I admit it.Â Ellen DeGeneres was a great choice to replace Paula Abdul on the judgesâ€™ panel.Â The show needs some comic relief and Ellen can actually be funny on purpose.Â Paula was justâ€¦you knowâ€¦funny, as in â€śYoo-hoo!Â Anybody home?Â Earth to Paula!â€ťÂ Like all great comics Ellen demonstrates the ability to cut right to the heart of the matter.Â For example, her likening of the on-stage demeanor of the annoying â€śSkiboskiiâ€ť to that of a leopard stalking back and forth in a cage was perfect.Â Ellen seemed totally at ease and in her element.Â And I think that her criticisms will be much more creative and genuine than â€śThat was a little pitchy, dogg!â€ťÂ Or, â€śOh, honey, Iâ€™m sorry, youâ€™re just not gonna make it.â€ťÂ Or, â€śThat was terrible!â€ťÂ You know what I mean?
The first night of Hollywood week demonstrated that while everybody thinks theyâ€™ve got talent, only a handful really do.Â Thatâ€™s why true talent is rewarded as highly as it isâ€”itâ€™s extremely rare.Â Numerous people crashed and burned miserably last night.Â But there were a few contenders.
Hands down, the most electrifying performance was Andrew Garciaâ€™s reworking of â€śStraight Upâ€ť by Paula Abdul.Â I was ready to cringe, but Andrewâ€™sÂ acoustic arrangement was one of the most daring performances Iâ€™ve ever seen on Idol.Â
- Crystal Bowersoxâ€”Janis Joplin reincarnated.Â She even has that rugged, hard-partying look like Janis.Â Idol fans love these bluesy females to a point, but they just never make it at the end.Â Sheâ€™ll have a good run, though.
- Lilly Scottâ€”Did a cool version of an Ella Fitzgerald song.Â Risky, since Ella was one of our true American artists.Â Lilly put her own spin on it and it really worked.
- Michael Lyncheâ€”Just goes to show you that you canâ€™t judge a book by its cover.Â The guyâ€™s built like a defensive lineman, and he comes out with an acoustic guitar and does aÂ sweet version of â€śWaiting On The World To Changeâ€ť by John Mayer.Â Donâ€™t think heâ€™s got the goods to make it to the final 24, though.
- Casey Jamesâ€”This yearâ€™s ruggedly handsome, blue-eyed blues guy.Â Women will swoon over him.Â Plays a pretty mean guitar, but it remains to be seen what his vocal chops are.
- Didi Benamiâ€”My personal favorite so far this year.Â Didiâ€™s a natural beauty with a sweet personality that just exudes grace and charm.Â She has a real shot to be in the final 24.
Tonight we start the group competition which is always interesting.