By Annie Barrett
January 18, 2011 at 05:28 PM EST

Image Credit: Michael Becker/FoxThe long-awaited (?) season 10 premiere of American Idol begins in mere hours. Are you excited? I’m excited! First, let’s get this out of the way. The tweets are true: Michael Slezak has left EW. So who will be stepping in to recap five long months of inconceivable song choices, Vitamin Water beer glasses, and raging personality disorders? Who do you think? In true, slick, Seacresty fashion, “The person……recapping American Idol…….for EW.com…..is…..coming up, after the break.”

It’s me, you guys. I’ll be recapping Idol!

Dionne from America’s Next Top Model cycle 8 has something to say about that!

I am by no means an Idol historian — the other day, I barely remembered who Danny Gokey was, let alone that he’d come in with a dead wife! All I remembered were the glasses (SO…MANY…GLASSES) and Kristen Baldwin slapping herself. The contestants are generally dead to me after they get voted out. However! I’ve long been a huge fan of the show. I love the audition rounds — sure, the endless series of stunty camera whores can get annoying, but I’m fascinated by the level of sheer delusion instilled in some of the hopefuls who have never been told the truth. (“You suck.” Try it on your kids sometime!) I’m blown away by the long shots of thousands upon thousands of festering souls quarantined in a stadium, glaring at each other, stalking their prey within their allotted space of two square feet. These are real people! It’s always shocking. Soon we’ll get over-produced segments about some of them; later we’ll get over-produced performance shows arranged ever so carefully for public consumption. This fascinates me, too — Idol‘s constant manipulation of “reality” to the point where everything seems fake. It’s a marvel. It’s absurd. I’m in.

Above all, what I love about this show is that the contestants are real people with talent. Sometimes talented people are boring, but more often than not, talented people are crazy. I love the crazies. Plus, I love spectacle. I appreciated the absurdity of Sanjaya. I don’t get offended when people like this are kept in the running. It’s America’s choice! See America run! Watch America play with people’s futures. Of course, my favorite contestants are the ones who manage to somehow retain a grounded sense of self and please the masses — the ones who go through the hair/makeup/makeover/how-to-be-on-TV brainwashing and emerge from the wringer resembling something close to a human being. Jason Castro. Adam Lambert. Siobhan Magnus. Crystal Bowersox. Real people who happen to sing well, not malleable robots with “powerhouse vocal” buttons on their left butt cheeks, desperate to mold into whoever the wardrobe director wants them to be. I root for these humans. I fear for their sanity, but I root for them all the same.

I’m thrilled to embark on this long and twisted journey with you all, and I promise to inject my Idol recaps with the same sparkle and attention to ridiculata you’ve come to expect from my 11 seasons of covering Dancing With the Stars. (“Unsung Heroes” as Hidden Gems, anyone?)

Got any overwhelming thoughts and fears going into tomorrow night’s premiere? Share ’em in the comments! Some of mine:

BURNING QUESTION: Will I be able to relate to 15-year-old contestants? What are “Silly Bandz”? Will the Idol backup bandz be silly? HOW SILLY? I have a very low tolerance of silliness.

UNCOMFORTABLE ITCH: Seacrest and Julianne. Seriously?

BIGGEST FEAR: Not being able to tell J. Lo and S. Ty apart!!!!!!

PREMIERE SNACK? I’ve narrowed it down to Brent and Sam’s Key Lime White Chocolate cookies or Bugles. Thoughts?

See you Thursday morning!

Read more:

‘American Idol’: 12 Burning Questions!

EW.com’s American Idol Central

Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett

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