November 06, 2006 at 12:00 PM EST

You know how Christmas season starts before Halloween? Well, it’s Nov. 6, 2006 — so what better time than now to officially start the countdown to American Idol season 6, which premieres on Jan. 16, 2007? That gives us 71 days, Idol fans! 71 days until that magical goodness returns into our collective mind-spirits with beautiful karaoke song. Sigh.

Did you miss having guest judges during the auditions last year? Fear not. In just 71 days, we’ll be graced with the presences of Jewel, Olivia Newton-John, and Carol Bayer Sager, each of whom makes a stop in a different audition city.

You read me right: Jewel. So apropos! After all, the yodel has been anointed en vogue by none other than Gwen Stefani, so why not bring the original yodel gangsta into the Idol canon of judges? And if you’re thinking, “Carol Bayer who?” let me explain: songwriter Bayer Sager is responsible for “That’s What Friends Are For.” (Question: Did Burt Bacharach use some of his Idol pull to bring her into the limelight again? Scandalous!)

As for Newton-John, hm. She has been through a lot, no? She deserves this guest-judge thing. Maybe it’ll lead to some aspiring screenwriter penning a treatment for Grease III. No! Wait! Xanadu on Broadway! The money!!

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