‘American Idol’ is back … and there’s a nagging question that needs to be addressed pronto! [POLL]

American Idol” just launched its 18th season and the third on ABC as host Ryan Seacrest and judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan returned as judges. The two-hour premiere started with a voiceover by Ryan recounting what went down last season when Laine Hardy — who was previously eliminated on the show — staged an amazing comeback and won it all. As Ryan told us in his intro, “This bayou boy became the latest of ‘Idol’s’ rich legacy of stars with a career that has taken off.”

But then he swiftly changed the subject, saying, “But he wasn’t the only one to make it as we met a 24-year-old dishwasher from Pomona, California. Alejandro Aranda‘s audition was a once in a lifetime moment. It set a course for an irreversible trajectory.” We then saw clips of Alejandro taking his show on the road in the guise of Scarypoolparty and performing one of his self-penned songs “Millennial Love” on Jimmy Kimmel’s show.

Ryan goes on to state that Alejandro’s impact on the new season is a “game changer” and says he has opened a whole other level of talent coming through and trying out.

Hearing him fulsomely praise Alejandro, who arrived as an artist fully formed even in his initial audition with a catalog of unique original songs, while giving Laine the brush-off  after a brief intro is interesting. It reminded me of how they treated Season 16 winner Maddie Poppe, with her less-than-satisfying appearance last year on the show when they didn’t even promote her new album coming out.

Clearly, the show wants fewer tryouts with someone horribly bellowing “Proud Mary.” They appear to want to recruit more artists who not only sing, but write music, play multiple instruments and have star presence. That is fine. But if I were Laine, who I assume will put in an appearance at some time this season, I would be scratching my head about why Ryan rambled on about Alejandro and not him.

Judging by this first of four audition episodes, only one hopeful even came even close to Alejandro. Louis Knight, a 19-year-old pizza delivery boy who grew up in London but moved to Philadelphia when he was 10, performed an original song titled “Change” dedicated to a friend who committed suicide. Lionel told him that he’s “on to something big” when it comes to songwriting and that “I think you might be the biggest star we’ve ever had on ‘American Idol.’ ” Watch Louis’ audition in the video above.

We will see if that prediction is just wishful thinking or a chance for this edition of the reality competition to truly make an impact with their winners. At least, Louis has an EP out, “Small Victories” that includes five songs including “Change.”

What do you think of the treatment given to the winners of ABC’s version of the show? Take the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments section on whether “Idol” is doing enough to promote its actual champs? And tune in next week for the second round of auditions at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

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