First Look: Simon-less ‘Idol’ Is Kinder, Gentler

by | December 23, 2010 at 9:51 AM | American Idol, TV News

'American Idol' (Photo: Fox)

'American Idol' (Photo: Fox)

Would Simon Cowell approve?

The first glimpses of a retooled “American Idol” show a kinder, gentler singing competition – one where judges hold hands, sing along at auditions, and even (gasp!) hug contestants.

Fox gave us a sneak peek at ten tryouts from the upcoming tenth season, which kicks off on January 19.  And while it’s too soon to tell if judges Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have found America’s next pop icon, here are a few things we did learn about ‘Idol 2.0′:

EVERYONE SEEMS TO GET ALONG: No conflict here.  The newly configured judging panel is seen dancing around after one knockout audition and holding hands at the end of a long day.  In every case but one, all three were in complete agreement about the singer’s fate.  Twice they even counted to three and voted in unison!

STEVEN TYLER HAS A POTTY MOUTH: Someone needs to tell the Aerosmith frontman you can’t drop F-Bombs in prime-time!  After one audition, Tyler blurts out: “Hell fire, save matches, f—k a duck and see what hatches!”  (Translation: He was very impressed.)

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FLIRTING CAN GET YOU FAR: “You look like you could be my….” Tyler tells a female hopeful before emerging from his seat to give his groupie a big bear hug.  (You know, for good luck.)  She then, predictably, busts out into a chorus of “Dream On.”

J.LO HAS A SENSITIVE SIDE: The singer — and mother of two — turned on the waterworks when a mom with a special-needs child belted out Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home.”  “When you sang, I really felt it,” she said.  “It brought tears to my eyes.”

SUPERFANS ARE WELCOME: Lopez shares an up-close-and-personal moment with a worshiper named Tiffany from Morris Plains, New Jersey. “In second grade my godmother took me to see Selena,” the crying dance instructor tells her.  “I was seven years old.  That is when I opened my mouth to sing.”  Her reward?  An embrace and some reassurance from her hero:  “I want you to do great,” Lopez tells her.

NO TOUGH LOVE: Even the tone-deaf singers – once whipping posts for Cowell – are sent packing with a smile.  “My mom loves your movies,” one tells Lopez on his way out.  The harshest criticism comes from Tyler:  “Don’t quit your day job,” he advises.  Ouch!

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The network and producers have said this season is about finding music’s next big superstar, not creating drama or beating up on bad singers.

“I think the days are gone of kicking somebody in the testicles,” executive producer Nigel Lithgoe told The New York Post in September.

“The new judges will never be that hard and cruel.”

So far, he’s right.

What do you think about seeing a softer side of ‘American idol’? Will it still work? Will you check out the new season?