Simon Cowell, American Idol
American Idol
Another season of American Idol begins with double the twin action. Does anyone agree that two sets of male twins plus the small-town Barrettsmith sisters might be overkill in the family-drama department? It smells a touch gimmicky, but at least all the siblings can back it up with their voices. So can single-named diva Mandisa and Gina, the tongue-pierced, fishnet-wearing dental assistant who managed a decent Celine Dion vocal. But really, we don't tune in to see the true talents this early in the season. There will be plenty of time to see how they fare. No, the premiere episode is all about the truculent train wrecks, and Chicago was full of 'em. Here's a hint for future Idol wannabes: When the judges recoil in horror, it's time to pack it in. First off, it seems like Amanda, whose "Something to Talk About" just made Bonnie Raitt's gray streak a bit wider, and Stuart, with his Assyrian garb, only barely belong in the train-wreck category. They were almost quaint next to Derek Dupree's second-chance song (lifted from the preppy scene in Trading Places), Blake's Statue of Liberty getup, Yuliya's inappropriate gyrations and Jessica Nelson's bleeped-out trash-talking. When she said she has a stronger voice than most of the other contestants, all I could think was that strong language does not equal strong voice. We've seen plenty of young guys slide into the finals by flirting with Paula Abdul, and Chicago proved no exception to this tried-and-true American Idol rule. Zachary Smits and David Radford worked the fresh-faced, puppy-dog-eyes thing for a ticket to Hollywood. But no matter how hard she tried, puppy-dog eyes didn't do a thing for Stacey Q, oops, I mean Crystal. I believe it is physically impossible to properly emote from underneath 8 lbs. of eye makeup. And Simon Cowell getting Crystal's doppelganger mom onstage ranks right up there as one of Idol's best moments ever. A Simon smack-down with a devoted grandma never came to fruition, but Paula and Simon continued to get under each other's skin. Get a room already, you two! Producers saved the strangest moment for the end — seriously, who else was stunned that barefoot "talk to the animals" Dave Hoover is going to Hollywood?