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The twelfth season of American Idol premiered last Wednesday, Jan. 16. Because there has been so much advertising and hype about the new panel of judges, I decided to tune in even though I’m not a huge American Idol fan.

The result was such a disappointment that I might not watch the rest of the season.

Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, and Nicki Manaj are the new judges, joining Idol veteran Randy Jackson on the panel. The first two newcomers make sense as judges: both of them are very successful, experienced singers who might actually offer some valuable advice. Nicki Minaj, however, doesn’t seem like the best choice. Honestly, what does she know about vocal technique or a long music career?

When I’ve watched audition episodes in the past, I’ve tried to predict who will be the winner in the end. This time, I was so distracted by the new judges and the large number of terrible singers that I was surprised when anyone sounded remotely good.

The episode kicked off with a recap of the last 12 seasons of Idol. It opened with a clip of the most recent winner, Phillip Phillips, singing his  multi-platinum song “Home.” The opening definitely reminded audiences how successful Idol winners have been, blasting us with stats about the number of Grammys past Idol champions have won and the amount of singles they have sold.

After that, audiences endured the Mariah-and-Nicki show. The two judges’ bickering and exchange of insults was definitely not a great way to start a new season. Thankfully, it quieted down enough for us to enjoy a few of the performers.

One of the biggest surprises of the night was Kez Ban, the street performer/flame thrower. She was introduced to America with a video of her making balloon animals and swinging balls of fire around her head. Her appearance was enough to make any audience member skeptical: She sported an asymmetrical haircut, hat, baggy clothes and huge black boots, one of which was wrapped in caution tape.  The judges also seemed doubtful of her talents. But her self-confidence and her pride in her profession was enough to spark curiosity.

Choosing to sing “Pinocchio,” which was somehow fitting for her character, she surprised everyone with her husky but somehow pleasing jazzy voice. She showed off even more of her vocal skills on her open composition while playing the guitar.  With four cries of “yes,” she was on her way to Hollywood.

My other favorite of the season premier was Isabelle, the young and quirky 15 year old who skipped school to attend auditions. She sweetly asked Keith Urban to sing with her in “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Her soft, sweet voice matched her persona and impressed all the judges except Randy. We’ll be seeing her in Hollywood too.

Except for a few other shining stars however, audiences had to endure two long episodes of awkward and sometimes painful auditions. Ratings and viewer numbers have dropped way down from when Idol started 12 seasons ago.  I can see why. I’ll probably continue to tune in for a few more episodes just to see how long my favorite singers last, but after that, I’m done with American Idol.

Sanguinetti is a member of the class of 2015.

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