December 05, 2010 at 11:52 PM EST

My least favorite part of American Idol — aside from the wonky song lists, the aggressive product placement, and the judges’ bouts of blatant favoritism, of course — are the “bad auditions.” Seriously, after nine years of watching the sad, the deluded, and the emotionally damaged have the tar taken out of ’em by Simon Cowell (while Randy Jackson & Co. hide behind their hands and snicker with laughter), I can’t say I’d be unhappy if the show took a less point-and-laugh approach to the opening rounds for the show’s upcoming tenth season. And a couple of new Idol promos (embedded after the jump) that focus on big, booming voices and the smiling reactions of Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, and Randy Jackson indicate that the show may indeed be accentuating the positive when it returns to the airwaves in 2011.

My only caveat about a “kinder, gentler Idol“? While everything will be Kool & the Gang in my book if we see fewer William Hungs, “bird ladies,” and “bush babies” in season 10, I don’t want the new judging panel to adopt a “gold stars for everyone” approach to critiquing the next crop of Idol wannabes. There’s nothing cruel about telling a kid with no natural vocal ability that he or she needs to give up on dreams of a singing career and instead apply to college or learn a trade. But it’s absolutely sadistic to tell a kid with middling musical ability that she has a chance to be the next Carrie Underwood.

Here’s hoping Nigel Lythgoe & Co. remember that if they’re planning to send, say, 200 Idol wannabes to Hollywood, it might be nice to see solid footage from, oh, 10 or 12 Golden Ticket holders per hour during the audition rounds. That’s a ratio that’s rarely been met in previous Idol seasons, but it would also provide exactly the right dosage of sweet to balance out the bitter. What do you think, Idoloonies? Sound off in the comments — and take our poll below — to tell us if you’d be happier with fewer train wrecks in season 10. And for all my Idol scoops and opinion, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak.

p.s. That kid singing “You Don’t Know Me” sounds pretty darn good, eh?

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