The eighth season of American Idol kicked off last night, and I was so excited that I watched it.

The first round of auditions took place in scorching Phoenix, where the talent and landscape were comparably barren. Randy, still sporting a modest layer of blubber, was literally melting all over the carpet, much to the dismay of Manuel, the mop-wielding custodian with the villainous mustache visible in certain celebratory shots.

The first surprise of the new season was the fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, the big-time songwriter/producer who must literally sit outside Disney World with an enormous net, as she is behind the, ahem, music of bubbalicious stars like Hillary Duff, Miley Cyrus, Raven Symone, Vanessa Hudgens, and, go figure, Carlos Santana. She and Paula totally had the girl power thing going on, and it was expectedly irritating.

The auditions, for the most part, were excruciatingly bland. During commercial breaks I had to ask my little niece to kick me repeatedly in the groin to stay awake. The show failed to capitalize on the "That dude's totally a pedophile" effect, which is all that really matters in the audition episodes. I counted only three possible pedophiles, and one was a singer's dad. I totally pegged Arizona as a pedophile state, too, but was sorely disappointed. Cross your fingers for Jacksonville.

The best audition of the night, hands down, was 23-year-old Elijah Scarlet, a cross between Mugsy Bogues and Huckleberry Hound, physically speaking. As for his voice, it was no higher than the average blue whale's. Each word he spoke literally sounded like a tugboat approaching harbor. The judges were hard-pressed to make any comments, as human ears can't perceive frequencies below 20 Hz. Sadly, the judges turned him down, and he walked off the set with a smile so dopey it broke my heart. Though I couldn't understand him, I'm sure his words were beautiful.

Perhaps the most interesting audition of the night was Bikini Girl who, like Audacious Ginger, Sensitive Rocker, Butch McLesbianoid, Sob Story, and Black-By-Skin-Only, will never make a name for herself. Wearing the scantest bikini and heels appropriate for one profession only, she caused Simon to morph into a howling cartoon wolf. Randy, resisting the reflex to ?smack dat,' ducked his head under the table and ate linguini with clam sauce. Both women judges were outraged that they looked old and ugly in comparison*. Her singing was piss-poor, but they let her into the next round on looks alone—certainly the responsible message for the millions of impressionable little girls sitting on their Barbie beanbags at home.

A real bummer last night was the absence of Coca Cola logos on every conceivable surface. It was difficult to watch the whole two hours without knowing what the judges were drinking. An unlabeled cup could be anything: old milk, baby blood, urine, Randy sweat, Coke Zero, water with poop in it. With no explanation during the credits or on the show's website, I can only hope that it was a slip in judgment because I really, really love advertisements (Yay for the approximately 7,000 commercials!)

The last audition of the night was Scott MacIntyre, an almost-blind guy who, despite not being able to see much, was heroically able to change the pitch of his voice and sing decently. Bravely forfeiting his blind person stick, he stood facing a potted cactus until Simon told him to turn the other way. Then he sang. And did alright. Your mom couldn't stop crying. It's admirable that he carries on despite his handicap, but the show cracked it up like he was partially decapitated and severely retarded, and only managed to sing by some mystical feat of diaphragmatic fortitude. They patronized him like it was no one's business.

Tune in tomorrow night for nothing special.

* Paula, who is nearly 50, showed all her years and then some last night. Wearing what I can only describe as Mrs. Magoo glasses, her skin looked alarmingly loose, and her tan might've actually been the result of some liver problem. I imagine her stylist sprayed her down with half a bottle of formaldehyde just to be presentable. She wore a shiny metallic jacket in 100 degree weather, proving she is certifiably insane.