Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson

The beast is back. Whether it's actually back in fighting shape, or just back to fall apart even more, is still TBA. But from last night's opener, we still have no idea. But there was enough good going on to leave us kind of hopeful for American Idol Season 10.

First off, there are the new judges. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler — certainly bigger names than Kara DioBlahBlahBlah and far more versed in music-biz bidness than Ellen — brought energy and actual industry savvy to the auditions without copycatting any of their predecessors. When Tyler wasn't eyeing up the more nubile hopefuls like he's casting his next groupie buffet, that is. (Run, don't just walk this way, ladies!)

Secondly, there's the Simon thing. Yes, he's gone and yeah, he was great. But bullying is so out these days, and without Cowell around, the tryouts were more about the singers than zingers. And while there was plenty of attention paid to judges, the proceedings still felt more like a music competition than a snarkfest fueled by giant plastic cups of Coke. Our only nit: Tyler and Lopez both seemed to have more to contribute than elder-statesman Randy. It's like the dawg rolled over!

And finally, there was the talent. Thank you merciful Lord for sparing us another batch of crickety coffee-shop escapees like last season's mess. Cripes, year nine was like Open-Mic Idol with all of those wannabes depriving us of belting stunners and whipping out their guitars like we needed to hear them suck in two musical forms. This year, it seems that either A) the pool of contestants is more in keeping with Idol's early mix of big vocalists (the Kosovo refugee; Kelly Clarkson-esque Devon Rush) geeks (annoying Victoria Huggins), freaks (most of them) and moderately quirky crooners (the kid who slaughtered Sinatra), or B) the producers realized that we will switch right over to Modern Family and not look back if they forced more snoozy singer-songwriters down our throats. Those ratings are as important to Fox as a yellow Hollywood ticket is to an aspiring finalist, mmkay?

Now, that's not to say that there weren't a few fools served up for our mocking enjoyment. That's the fun of these auditions (though too many tend to make this section of the season drag like a Siobhan Magnus ballad) and for all the talk about "a new" approach, last night was classic Idol. The tryouts are always the same. The real test of Idol's re-invention remains in the post-tryout episodes, when we have our Top 20 or so in place and the performances are on. Because, no matter who is at the judges' table, like Simon said in his farewell last year, this is our show. We get to decide who stays or goes...and if they don't deliver a better Idol than ever, it could be the viewers who leave, as well.

So, are you in for a new season of Idol? What do you think of the new judges?

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