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American Idol Scoop From Judge Randy Jackson

Jan. 11 2010, Published 4:24 a.m. ET

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The ninth, yes ninth season of American Idol kicks off tomorrow night (January 13th) at 8pm ET on FOX. It’s a new regime at the judge’s table now that Paula Abdul is out and Ellen Degeneres takes over alongside Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson when the show hits the Hollywood rounds next month. So, what does this mean for the show that has launched the mega careers of stars like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Adam Lambert? Well, according to Randy, fans are in for a treat this season. From the talented crop of new contestants to the arrival of Ellen Degeneres -- this is what our favorite dawg had to say about what’s to come!

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First things first -- yes, he’s still very good friends with Paula Abdul. “Paula is near and dear to my heart – we speak all time. It started with me, Ryan Seacrest, Simon and her. I miss that and look down the table and expect to hear her voice in my left ear. We’re sad but welcoming Ellen is a good look.”

So what does he think Ellen will bring to the show? “She’s great. I’ve known for long time and we have funny, interesting season ahead of us. She’s my home girl from Louisiana. I really, really think being that she’s a diehard music fan and a successful performer... that’ll give the “at-home viewer” a real voice on the judges’ panel.”

What can he tell us about those pesky rumors that Simon is finished with Idol after this season? “I’m not believing anything until I hear it from him. We have an exciting season nine. Rumors get so wild and crazy and you don’t know what to believe.”

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Is Randy going anywhere? “I think Idol is the best show of its time ever. I think it can go on for quite a long time and haven’t really thought about my end. I’m contracted for a few more seasons.”

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Does he think Simon is ‘mean’ like the rest of the world -- and Ellen -- seem to believe? “He’s not really mean. I love his phrase; ‘I don’t mean to be rude but...’ He’s honest from his perspective and sometimes harsh. It’s not really mean -- I call it really stern.”

So, with all the drama at the judges table, some might forget that there’s another very important part of the show. The music! Randy’s says fans are in for a treat this year. “The last couple seasons boys have won and I'm going, ‘Dude, where are the girls?’ I think there's some really talented girls that showed up this time and what changes the show year to year are the contestants we get. This year you would've thought a lot more Adam Lambert and Kris Allen types would've showed up but that's not what happened. We've got some real bona fide stand-in-your-shoes singers. It’ll be interesting to see who stands test of time and who crumbles once on live TV but we have some good singers this time around.”

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Guest judges stopping by during the audition rounds include Victoria Beckham (who Randy affectionately nicknamed “Lady V”), Avril Lavigne, Neil Patrick Harris, Joe Jonas, Katy Perry and Mary J. Blige. Randy says they all added their own special something -- but Mary J stood out! “All the guest judges brought something different to the table. But people were in fear factor zone of Mary J. Bilge. She wasn’t that tough but she is a serious, standing performer who doesn’t use props and you just really enjoy her voice. You’re not seeing weird outfits or dance moves and a lot of kids that came in know that and were like, ‘Whoa – Mary J!’ but it was good thing for them to stand up to.”

And, finally, what does Randy want the next American Idol to posses? "I’m looking for the big three – undeniable talent, something makes you unique and a star persona!”

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