"American Idol's" superstar new judges, lascivious rocker Steven Tyler and pop diva Jennifer Lopez, made their debuts on Wednesday night, as Fox's talent show launched its 10th season. The episode was also the first without notoriously harsh judge Simon Cowell, whose blunt critiques have been credited with making "Idol" such a hit. Tyler and Lopez, along with veteran judge Randy Jackson, received generally positive reviews, but will they be too soft to satisfy viewers accustomed to Cowell's cruelty? (Watch a clip from the premiere episode)
"Idol" needs meaner judges: Minus Simon Cowell, the "Idol" judges "lacked teeth," says Monica Herrera in Billboard. If anyone "even remotely offended [the contestants], it was left on the cutting room floor." Steven Tyler's "comedic soundbites" were entertaining, and Jennifer Lopez's mere presence left contestants "more star-struck than ever," but "Idol" is diminished without a healthy dose of nastiness.
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Tyler and Lopez did well, but they should toughen up: It's not a question of being mean, says Len Melisurgo in the Newark Star-Ledger. Jennifer Lopez's "overly sympathetic, motherly" Paula Abdul routine is just "boring." At least Steven Tyler will tell you "if your singing stinks" — the trouble is he says it in a "kindler, gentler way," with lines such as, "Oh baby, you're just not ready. I'm sorry." Both of the newbies need to "toughen up a bit." When Cowell called the occasional performance an "utter disaster," he added the spice that made "Idol" delicious.
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Forget it. This season is a write-off: Cowell was harsh but authentic, says Ramin Setoodeh in Newsweek. Now "the entire franchise has gone to the land of Stepford, where everybody is so nice and sweet and happy and zippy, you feel a cavity coming on." Tyler is "about as critical as a fourth-grade music teacher," while Lopez, trying to fill the sympathetic Paula Abdul role, supposedly has trouble saying no, but "even this feels manufactured" and disingenous. "She's playing a character in a Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy."
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