Thursday night’s “American Idol” was one of the best audition episodes I’ve ever seen. I usually really really suffer during the audition process. I’ve never been a fan of the exploitation of bad singers and sob stories. But I’d suffer through until the real competition would begin.

But Thursday’s episode in New Orleans was actually really good. I thought it was a great episode and this season is really shaping up to have real heart and soul. Seriously, who would’ve thought?

Before I get into the good and bad rundown, I have to ask a question. Did anyone else notice that the new “American Idol” opening not only includes past winners but also Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert? I don’t know if I find that cool or offensive. There’s just something about it that bugs me. Maybe it’s like “Idol” is taking credit for their successes. I don’t know; it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

OK, on with the recap.

The good

*The episode was only an hour long. That means far less filler and “Idol” self-patting than Wednesday night. I’m very happy with that.

*Jennifer Lopez has already toughened up since last night. But who knows if they air these in the order they were filmed. Actually, the judges toughened up as a whole. They weren’t as easy and seemed to say “no” more.

*I touched on this earlier, but JLo and Steven Tyler seem to have real heart. When they’re impressed I believe it. I never really felt that with the previous judging panels. I’m impressed with those two. JLo even cried tonight.

*Finally someone did Queen and didn’t wreck it! Brett Loewenstern sang “Bohemian Rhapsody” and did so very well. No one ever pulls off a Queen song. Freddie Mercury was just that good. And his story wasn’t even that annoying. He was bullied and has found refuge in music. His voice is very unique.

*Jacquelyn Dupree’s “I’ll Stand By You.” It was definitely a performance I’ll remember.

*Jacee Badeaux. He may be a 15-year-old that looks 12, but that boy can sing. He might be too young for stardom, but with that voice, it’s worth a shot. I hope he makes it all the way through because I’d love to see him made over “Idol” style.

*Paris Tassin. She’s probably going to go far. That’s all I’m saying because I don’t want to offend anyone by complaining about sob stories. She’s a good singer and that’s all that matters.

The bad

*Too many people are singing “Hallelujah.” First of all, it’s tired as far as “Idol” goes. Secondly, Simon Cowell is no longer a judge so you can’t impress him by singing his favorite song. Stop!

*Jovany Barreto. He had an OK voice. But that all flew out the window when he showed his true douchey colors and took his shirt off. Who cares if you have abs, you tool.

*Randy Jackson shirtless. OK, he wasn’t completely shirtless but what he gave us was enough. I blame that on Jovany.

Well how you like that? Only three “bads” Way to go, “Idol.”

What did you think of Thursday’s episode? Anyone you want to see more of? Are you getting used to Jennifer and Steven?

Hear Brett Loewenstern audition to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” below.

Also, check out Jacee Badeaux singing “Sittin’ On The Dock of the Bay” during his audition in New Orleans.

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