season 13 premiered last night, (re)introducing us to not only returning judges Keith and Jennifer Lopez, but also Harry Connick, Jr. -- along with some pretty strong talent over the course of two hours.
As far as the judges are concerned, the Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj drama is certainly behind us now that we've seen how much chemistry this year's panel has. And Harry is certainly the star at the table, providing hilarious banter with his co-judges and humorous quips to the contestants. But not only that, he knows what he's talking about, being very specific at times on what he likes and doesn't like. He even taught J-Lo a thing or two, using words/phrases like the pentatonic scale -- these are things we'd normally expect from someone like Ben Folds on The Sing-Off
Even though everyone's raving about the judges, what's great is that they don't overshadow the contestants like some other shows do (looking at you, The Voice). So how was the talent? They kept the bad acts to a minimum and chose to focus the vast majority of the time on the good singers, and there were some stand-outs.
I'll start off by bringing up the singers who fans and viewers seem to be talking about online: Sam Woolf, Savion Wright and Malcolm Allen (and I guess I can throw in Munfarid Zandi as well since his audition included the best moment of the night). While they're all good, I wouldn't put them at the top of my list. Sam has a nice tone and sand a beautiful song, but I wonder how he'll be on the big stage. Savion, who has ADHD, sang an original song and sounded great. Malcolm's voice (on "Superstition") is very smooth and clear.
And Munfarid's voice when he sang "Crazy for You" I found very intriguing. Most of the attention was on Harry cradling Munfarid in his arms, which was beyond hilarious, especially when he sang the line "I just want you close" -- both that and the other judges' reactions were priceless.
If I had to pick the best out of this group, it would be Savion Wright:
My runner-up for the night, though, goes to Shanon Wilson. He reminds me of both Ruben Studdard and Michael Lynche ("Big Mike"). Ruben is still better than him in the mid-range, but what absolutely blew me away were those killer falsettos during the latter half of "I Want You." I mean, seriously? He kept going higher and higher and I wondered how far he'd go before the TV broke. Fortunately, that didn't happen and he's heading to Hollywood!
The One Singer to Watch: Kaitlyn Jackson
Most of the standouts that viewers are talking about are all male. But what about the ladies? My favorite was Kaitlyn Jackson, who sang an original song called "Another Angel," about her grandpa who had a heart attack when she was younger. It's a very moving song, especially when we're told the backstory. And I love her voice -- definitely the best among the girls and even when you add the guys in as well. There's just something about it I can't exactly pinpoint that made me put a star next to her name when I didn't for any of the other auditioners.
You don't necesssarily have to have the biggest voice around (a la Shanon Wilson), but she's got a solid set of pipes and I hope she doesn't stumble going forward. It'll be interesting to see how she fares in the next couple rounds.
What did you think of the American Idol season 13 premiere? Did I discuss any of your favorites? And is Kaitlyn Jackson at the top of your list as well, or did the guys dominate? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.