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American Idol - Minneapolis Gone Wild (Season Premiere, Part 1)

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Everyone’s favorite game of public humiliation is back! American Idol kicked off a new season from Minnesota last night, with thousands cheering, millions watching, and an odd use of Teenage Wasteland in the opening montage.

As expected, Season 6 began with a self-congratulatory flashback/recap/where-are-they-now session for the previous winners and also-rans, as well as a self-masturbatory highlight reel of the A-List talent that has giddily participated in this bizarre hazing ritual of fame seekers.

While it’s only Episode One, the judges jumped right in to playing musical chairs with their personalities. Randy was the mean one, Simon was all smiles and Paula got almost no air time. The producers went so far as to even add a bubbly blonde to the panel (big ol’ snooty Jewel) to distract the home-viewing audience from Paula Crazypants. (Side note: One of my deepest hopes for this season is to see Ms. Abdul, in a fit of passionate inappropriateness, enthusiastically hurl her unmentionables on stage during a performance her latest, barely-legal crush). Ryan Seacrest was pretty well behaved last night, and even tried his hand at career-counseling a few of the crushed, delusional souls who were told that singing was not in their future.

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And clearly there is an epidemic of delusional in Minneapolis. There was a guy rocking an urban-Amish look who had never seen the show and sang a tune about pouring gasoline on people (or something like that). There was a gentleman dressed as Apollo Creed (hat and gloves and all) who gave a shout-out to his kids before belting a bit of Italian opera. We met a girl with a Wizard of Oz fixation who could do that funny, guttural growl like the cowardly lion, and insisted on singing the same way.

There were also a couple of military spies (undoubtedly sent by Karl Rove) to infiltrate the operation. But dammit if those Republicans didn’t sing like the prettiest little birds. Jewel thought the Reservist gal had a nice warm tone, while Simon thought our man from the Navy was going to be a fan favorite. Other noteworthies who made the cut were a 16 year old boy with serious set of pipes, a 16 year old girl with a serious set of pipes and sad backstory, a perky blonde applauded by the judges for being “confident without precocious,” and a mini-Shakira who spent her down time flirting with Seacrest.

However, last night’s winner was without a doubt the person on the Idol staff who decided it would be funny to lock one of the outgoing doors to the audition room. Nearly every cat that walked out of there in tears or in a huff inevitably pushed the locked door first. Oh the irony.

Final count for Minneapolis: 10,000 entered, 17 chosen. Tonight, auditions continue in Seattle...