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JAN
18
3 YEARS

'American Idol' Season 11 Premiere: What the Critics Are Saying

The season opener kicked off auditions in Savannah, Georgia and featured an abnormally high number of good singers in comparison to past cycles.

American Idol judges TCA 2012
Frank Micelotta/FOX

Wednesday ushered in the new season of American Idol, with a brand new crop of crooning hopefuls -- and God-awful auditionees -- singing their hearts out for the judges Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler. While master of ceremonies Ryan Seacrest kept the 2-hour episode rolling on as only he can. The auditions kicked off in Savannah, Georgia with a mix of the good, bad and the ugly, per usual.

So what did some of the Idol mediasphere's experts and critics think of the reality singing competition's 11th season opener?

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The Wall Street Journal dedicated an entire section of their recap to Steven Tyler's antics, declaring, "Clad in a crazy purple hat, wearing nail polish, Steven’s uncensored awesomeness didn’t disappoint. Shannon Magrane, 15, daughter of 80’s Cardinals pitcher Joe Magrane was allowed to bring the family in to meet the judges before she sang. Her dad asked the gang how they liked the town to which Steven replied, “Hot, humid and happening…just like your daughter. And the room fell silent, the dad didn’t look happy, and Steven knew he’d slipped up."

TV Line's Michael Slezak was impressed with the talent, noting a lack of ridiculous fare, per Idol's usual m.o.: "Good things come to those who wait (for 11 seasons). Indeed, it might finally be time to put an end to the annual kvetching by the Idoloonie nation that American Idol‘s audition rounds deliver too many jokesters, deludeds, and all-purpose waking nightmares — and not enough truly talented vocalists."

USA Today's Brian Mansfield agreed about the abundance of talent, and has his money on two Southerners: "Who will people still be talking about once the Hollywood rounds hit? Maybe Schyler and Colton Dixon, who returned from last season -- though the judges had to drag 19-year-old Colton, who barely missed out on the semifinals last season, back into the mix against his will. But they'll definitely remember Phillip Phillips, a Georgia boy, named after his daddy, who has a country-fried accent and sings Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson like you wouldn't believe."

Huffington Post recalled the five most memorable auditions from Savannah, Ga. that included Schyler Dixon, Gabby Carrubba, Phillip Phillips, Jessica Whitely and Mawuena Kodjo. In its recap of what took place Wednesday evening, the recent X Factor finale was a topic of interest. "The confetti from The X Factor finale has barely been swept from Fox's primetime schedule, but if there's one thing Steve Jones was good at during its stint, it was making us miss Ryan Seacrest," wrote HuffPo's Laura Prudom.

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Prudom also noted Idol's focus on actual talent this go-round has to do with competition from NBC's The Voice: "It seemed that -- despite Idol's protestations that they're not at all threatened by NBC's upstart talent show The Voice -- they were taking a page out of the star-studded singing contest's playbook by not subjecting us to half as many terrible auditions as we've come to expect. Sure, it wouldn't be "Idol" without a few self-deluding stinkers, but overall, the quality was high and the meltdowns were relegated to embarrassing montages, where they belong."

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New York Times' Art Beat took note of Idol's "light and hopeful" tone in its 11th season premiere, "relegating most of the painful performances to montages and sketching out a few of the shorelines of the standouts who made it to the next round."