3 Reasons Ellen DeGeneres Will Make 'American Idol' Better

There's one bit of bad news about Ellen DeGeneres' decision to join American Idol: Though the show's ninth season premieres Tuesday (Fox, 8 p.m. ET), we still have to wait to see the talk-show host lend her genial wit to the judges' table, since she arrived during Hollywood Week -- which begins airing Feb. 9 -- after the first round of auditions had been taped. 

So, we won't get to see her react to those early, vocally challenged aspirants -- the ones who try to compensate for their tone deafness with teeny bikinis or talk-to-the-hand attitudes. And let's be honest: We tune into the show's first episodes mostly to see what variety of clownish, clueless wannabes turned out.  

During Tuesday's premiere, Simon Cowell (who announced Monday that he'll depart the reality competition at the end of the 2010 season) will inevitably liken some poor singer's voice to the sound of, say, the squeaky breaks on an old Chevy. Wouldn't it be great to see DeGeneres handle Cowell's lack of decorum? Would she giggle along? Cry foul? Try to make the contestant feel better? ("But you would be great on NPR's Car Talk! Really!") Yeah, that would have been fun. 

But despite DeGeneres's late arrival to the Idol party (during which semi-finalists will be narrowed to a pool of 24 this season, instead of 36, so that viewers can get to know them better), we'll all benefit from the astute addition of the funny lady. How will she make the show better? Three ways:

1. She knows what to say -- even when she doesn't know what to say: Based on her one-episode judging stint on So You Think You Can Dance, DeGeneres is always ready with a quick quip. "First of all, I can do that," she hilariously offered when it was her turn to weigh in. Her winning motto for critiquing dancers seemed to be: When in doubt, crack a joke. "It was very complex and rich and full-bodied," she told one pair. "And -- oh, I'm sorry, I'm thinking of the wine I had before I came out here."

2. She'll represent music fans, because she's one herself: Unlike the other judges, who are record-industry insiders, Ellen just loves pop music (and will inevitably get up to dance to it as she does on her talk show). "She'll give that layperson-at-home view," said fellow Idol judge  Randy Jackson in a recent interview with MTV.com. "She will give the at-home viewer a real voice to be on the judges' panel."

3. She has the star power to help carry the show after Cowell's departure next year: That is, if she lets him go. "I will be like a monkey on his back, wrapped around his neck: You will not go!" she said in an Entertainment Weekly interview. The show is losing a big asset in Cowell and first Paula Abdul, but if anyone can keep this cultural adventure going, it's DeGeneres.

Plus: So Long, Simon! Cowell Confirms He's Leaving American Idol

Are you excited to see what Ellen DeGeneres brings to Idol? Chime in below!

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