American Idol expert Steve Thompson is here to review what went down last night at really big show, American Idol.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends...  Year 12 of American Idol-- and I feel like I've written 12 years of reviews.  First, some good news to report.  As of June 2013, will cease to exist.  They say they've done their job - Idol has become irrelevant.  As long as FOX continues to milk this cash cow, I rather doubt Idol will disappear from the television landscape. 

After two years of nondescript judgments from the failed accounting firm of Tyler, Lopez & Jackson, FOX had a bit of a quandary on its hands.  What to do when your judging panel consists of a returning participant who supposedly has been responsible for 100 million sold yet the average viewer would be hard-pressed to know his involvement.  We go to three different levels of accomplishment.

First, and I suppose foremost, we have to replace a diva for a diva.  You know the old saying Divas are a Dime a Dozen?  No?  Well, I just made that one up - but by golly it should be a saying. We have Mariah "Don't Call Me the Wind" Carey replacing Jennifer "Don't Call me a Talented Actress" Lopez.  Frankly, from night one I think Mariah may as well have the Brittney Spears buyout clause in her contract.  Not impressed by anything she said nor was I impressed by her failed attempts at humor.  I think the most shocking aspect of this might well be that Nick Cannon would be a better judge than his wife.  Who knew?

Second, the return of the fourth chair.  Keith Urban, last seen by people like me who watch talent programs from other countries on YouTube (we now have a 12-step program) seems to still have a bit of the Australian version of The Voice in his head.  I kept hearing him say things that made me think these kids are all works in progress.  Not that there's anything false about the pretense that many of these folks are primed and ready for a career - clearly, many of these who auditioned will be as forgotten as the members of the Obama Administration.

Now - a reconsideration.  It is with great sadness that I must report a grievous error in my thought process.  I thought the hiring of Nicki Minaj would be the death knell for American Idol this year.  Granted, I was basing most of my thinking on one delicate minutiae of fact:  I can't stand to hear her sing.  However, I found myself in agreement with much (if not all) of what she had to say about the contestants.  Will this translate to the rest of the season?

Interesting to note that when the recent season of X Factor began, many pundits thought Brittney would be the star of the show and gave little thought to Demi Lovato.  Frankly, Demi Lovato was the best judge on that panel.  I think the same thing may happen with Idol.  Mariah gets all the press (and money) and Nicki might end up getting respect-- if not for her own singing, than for her judgment.

41 contestants made it to Hollywood from New York City.  Did we see any winners in this group?  Doubtful.  For all the panache and flair, New York City audition-eers seldom make a big splash on the Idol stage.  I rather liked Christina Isabelle and her version of Summertime.   And even though he had to make a second start, Frankie Ford offered an interesting rendition of Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.  I'm not sure what to make of "The Turbinator" other than for his personality-- or maybe I'm just not a Jason Mraz fan.

Next up...  Chicago.  According to the previews, one of the touted singers from the commercials that have been airing for Idol over the last few months makes an appearance.  We'll see... and we will see you tomorrow.