Oh, Steven Tyler. You had me at, “Well hellfire, save matches, f-ck a duck and see what hatches!”

I just watched the 23-minute audition footage FOX released from season 10 of American Idol, and that little partially bleeped quip — delivered by new judge Steven Tyler after a Hollywood hopeful knocked ’em dead in the audition room — is only part of why this season of Idol could be a lot better than we had anticipated.

The Aerosmith front man is a wild one and attractive in that rock-star, just-don’t-examine-his-face-too-closely way, and Jennifer Lopez is charming, adorable, sweet, honest and super-hot (love seeing all the different hairstyles, makeup looks and ensembles for each audition day — it’s like a Mariah Carey show, um, but without the hassle of having Mariah Carey there) — and both are a welcome addition to the formerly stale-feeling judges table. Even old Randy Jackson seems all shiny and new again (maybe playing second fiddle to Simon Cowell for all those years was holding him back).

I really didn’t expect to be on board with this season of American Idol, with its myriad attempts to gussy itself up and essentially be a whole new show for season 10, but I actually found myself smiling, laughing, bopping along and jaw-popping my way through the 23-minute audition reel.

A few highlights:

  • Steven Tyler’s inability to restrain himself from joining the contestants in song (which are totally welcome — who doesn’t want to hear his screechy rock-star, “Yeeeeaaaaah” as backup?!), backing them on drums, er, desk banging and grooving along to the tunes with his eyes closed.
  • Jennifer Lopez crying real J-Lo tears during a contestant’s rendition of Carrie Underwood‘s “Temporary Home.” She’s a cryer! And a hugger! Which I love. She’s like a more coherent Paula Abdul for a new generation.
  • Steven Tyler’s flirt fest with one of the rocker-girl-looking contestants who takes on his song “Dream On”: “You look like you could be one of my …” “Friends, she could be one of your friends,” finishes Randy. 
  • I can’t reveal info about the fate of the contestants, but I can tell you that skatting and entering the audition room in pairs are no longer the kiss of death on our new and improved Idol.

Hope this tides you over till American Idol returns to FOX on Jan. 19!

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Jen Harper

Editor, BuddyTV