american idol judges 320 'American Idol': Suddenly optimistic about Season 10FOX and “American Idol” announced Wednesday (Sept. 22) that Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler would be joining the judges panel in the wake of Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi leaving the show.

Since Lopez and Tyler had been the rumored replacements for months now, we weren’t surprised. But what did surprise us was how much seeing them in person raised our spirits about Season 10.

First of all, thank God they are back to a three-judge format. Nothing against Kara, because we happened to think she had a lot of good things to say to the contestants, but having four judges was too much. They were constantly repeating themselves, running out of things to say and taking too much time away from what the focus should be and that is the contestants. Three judges will be much more manageable, so that’s a step in the right direction right there.

Secondly, there is no longer a prickly British judge. Oh noes! Except … this might prove interesting. There doesn’t have to be a Simon and while 90% of the time we loved what Cowell had to say, sometimes he could be too harsh. We also think this opens the door for Randy to stretch his critiquing muscles. Jackson has always been a good sport in poking fun at his “dawgs” and “for me, for you, for mes,” but Randy Jackson‘s not an idiot and he knows his way around the music world. Perhaps this turns into his time to shine.

And finally, the new judges and format changes. Before Wednesday’s announcement, we had J-Lo pegged as the new Paula. But she’s not. She seemed genuinely excited to be a part of the “Idol” process and she comes across as quite smart and articulate. (She also made eye contact and smiled at us, so — squee.) But Jennifer Lopez, for all the jokes that are made about her dance music and forays into movies like “Gigli,” is a talented lady. Remember what made her famous? “Selena,” which she was excellent in. We actually think J-Lo might surprise some people.

As for the new Paula, that title now falls on Steven Tyler. Let’s not forget that he’s been around the music business for over 40 years — and 40 hard years at that. We predict that the amount of word salad that he spews forth will simultaneously be hilarious and profound (or profound-sounding) and we cannot wait to see it.

Then you have Jimmy Lovine as the new in-house mentor and the news that the Idols will no longer be forced to jump around in different genres week to week. HALLELUJAH! There is nothing more painful than an R&B cool cat being made to sing Broadway, or a country cutie being forced into rock week (remember Kelli Pickler’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”?). This is excellent news and it should make the Top 12 very entertaining.

If the above picture and their behavior together on Wednesday is any indication, the new judges panel is at the very least going to be fun, while the changes to the show’s format should help with the talent pool and performances. Is this going to be “Idol’s” swan song? Maybe. But even if it is, we now feel 100% better about Season 10.

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Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."