By Michael Slezak
Updated January 08, 2007 at 09:30 PM EST

Right this very second, songs like Whitney Houston’s oft, oft-coveredI Have Nothing” and Phil Collins’ similarly hard-usedAgainst All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” sit trembling in the corner, awaiting what’s sure to be a hideous fate, while network suits at Fox prepare for a massive ratings spike. As for me, well, I’m clearing my Tuesday- and Wednesday-night social schedule from now till the end of May. Yes, folks, ’tis the season for Paula, Randy, Simon, and Seacrest. In other words, we’re only a week (and a day) away from the season premiere of Season 6 of American Idol.

Which has me wondering: What’s your excitement level for the upcoming Idol incarnation? On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d have put myself at a 5 last week — mostly because when you know you’ll be writing 80,000 words on a subject over the course of five months, it’s kind of crucial to pace yourself — but after reading Jessica Shaw’s EW cover story this weekend, I’d have to put my anticipation level at 8 (and rising). Seriously, a planned songwriting competition, the lack of an early frontrunner, and the possibility of a Paul McCartney/Beatles night could make this the best Idol ever. And after Season 5’s deep, competitive, and twisty battle — Elliott Yamin, I await your chart-topping single! — that’s saying a lot.

Are you with me, PopWatchers? Is your DVR ready to record a slew of shows that will take a backseat to Idol, or can you feel your loyalty beginning to stray in other directions? And what do you make of this article which promises Idol ice cream and other merchandise as the show continues to build its multimedia franchise?