‘American Idol’ Week Two: Ranking The Players Thus Far

by | January 26, 2011 at 4:41 PM | American Idol, RealityTV, TV News

Hey, I’m sensitive to how TV works. It takes a lot of moving parts to make “American Idol“ go smoothly, and that means more than just host Ryan Seacrest and the three judges. After one week, Steve Tyler and Jennifer Lopez showed promise in their roles as judges and, while many critics are carping about the absence of Simon “Legree” Cowell, fans and bloggers seem to be willing to give the newcomers a shot. If you ask me, even Randy Jackson seems to have elevated his game now that he’s the veteran on the panel and technically occupies the Simon chair. As we commence week two, here’s my ranking of Idol’s first-week MVPs in terms of their importance to what we’ve seen after just one week.

1. Nigel Lythgoe: The returning executive producer promised a “kinder and gentler” Idol, among other things, and so far, that’s what we’re getting, for better or worse, at least at the audition stage. We’ll give Lythgoe props for the new judges, but we’re still waiting to see the impact of further changes. Grade: Standing in place

2. Simon Cowell: Technically, he’s no longer part of the AI team, but his presence lurks behind every move, while his “X Factor” looms in the future. Grade: Moving up

3. Ryan Seacrest: The dude’s presence is underrated. Sure, he’s an ambitious show biz mogul masquerading as a pretty-boy, but he also holds the show together, no mean feat given the audition shows’ hellzapoppin’ structure. Grade: Standing in place

4. Steve Tyler: He’s proving the “what did he just say” factor and a refreshingly honest perspective, but is his flirting with teenage contestants going to lead to trouble? Grade: Moving up

5. Jacee Badeaux: Providing the show’s first Susan Boyle moment, this 15-year-old Cajun wowed the judges with an unexpectedly soulful “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” at the New Orleans auditions. Grade: Moving up

6. Jennifer Lopez: She provides the requisite Paula Abdul cuddly warmth, but she also has an edge to her that might become more apparent as the show moves on. Still holds the lead for getting most contestants to gush. The more inner J-Lo she reveals, the better. Grade: Moving up

7. Jimmy Iovine: The show’s secret weapon, the veteran industry exec, serving as a mentor, should see his roll increase as we get closer to Hollywood. Could he be the next Simon? Can he find, and hone, real stars that matter? Grade: Standing in place

8. Randy Jackson: He definitely seems energized by his new colleagues, but will he also get more petulant at being “third banana” behind the other two superstars? Grade: Moving on down

9. Ron Fair: Geffen chief who is responsible for discovering Christina Aguilera and Keyshia Cole, will join Iovine full-time at “American Idol” this spring. Could be interesting to see how he’s integrated. Grade: Standing in place

10. Devyn Rush: The singing Times Square waitress was fired from her job after taking time off to audition, generating publicity for the show and Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Grade: Moving on down