Some folks might criticize “American Idol” for not replacing Simon Cowell with someone equally harsh, but after two nights of watching Steven Tyler and J-Lo in action, I have to admit I think the show is already much improved. Maybe that’s not because Simon left, but more because three judges are better than four, and because of Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres did not return. Here is a brief recap of last night’s New Orleans auditions…..

GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

First up was Jordan Dorsey, a 21 year old singer from the Bayou. This dude was shown in his day job giving piano lessons to a kid, and then he did a ridiculous version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that blew away the judges and all of us watching. Definitely a kid worth keeping on our radar…..Sarah Sellers, who had some banter with Steven about her lips. I mean, there was more sexual tension in what they didn’t say than in what they did say. But she was good too, with a really nice soulful voice…..Jovany, a shipbuilder with Cuban roots, talked about how he loved J-Lo and also idolized her husband Marc Anthony, so you just knew he was going to suck. But he was awesome! Then he took his shirt off for J-Lo because he told his buddies at the shipyard he would, and Steven and Randy Jackson joined him. Ha!……Then Jacquelyn Dupree, from Mississippi, brought in pictures of Randy from high school, and Randy’s high school football coach! This show was beginning to get weird, but that was also funny and oddly heartwarming. Nevermind that Ms. Dupree had to be a stalker on some level to make all that happen, but she was good enough to get to Hollywood…..Brad Lowenstern was a 16 year old scrawny kid who said he got picked on a lot growing up. Uh-oh. But then, he started singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and just knocked it out of the park. Damn, looks are so deceiving sometimes……Jacee Beadeaux, a 15 year old pudgy, dorky kid, sang “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay,” and while he’s a bit green, he sang really, really well. Mrs. Mike commented that Simon would have hated this kid based on his looks and green-ness, and that’s so true, and exactly why the show will be better this year…..they closed with Paris Tassin, a 23 year old mom who has a special needs child that she almost didn’t have. But her daughter is doing well and Paris sang a song to her daughter and soared into Hollywood, making J-Lo cry along the way.

MAYBE NEXT YEAR, OR NEVER

Najsha Palmer was the first bad one of the night, and when Randy goes bug-eyed, you know the singer isn’t good…..David La Rocca was awful but thought he was good, prompting Jen to say, “Well, that’s all that matters”…..Gabriel Franks actually took on a Lady GaGa song. Really? It was quite frightening…..Alex Attardo, someone who went to Idol Camp, sang “Proud Mary” but did not do the song proud at all. They also showed a couple of medleys of bad singers last night, but thankfully with a one-hour show, not too many.

So next week they head to Milwaukee for the first time. Hey, that’s where Danny Gokey is from! See you guys then…..