Today is a major day in pop-culture history. Avatar and The Hurt Locker scored nine nods apiece as nominations for the 82nd annual Academy Awards were announced. Punxsutawney Phil (now on Twitter) got his shadow on at a place called Gobbler’s Knob, PA. [Insert Beavis & Butthead-esque chuckle here.] As I write this, the premiere episode of Lost‘s sixth and final season is underway on ABC. And over on American Idol, a dude scored a ticket to Hollywood by taking his shirt off for Kara, Posh, and Randy. What a fun, sexy time for all of them!

Surprisingly, ’twas the Dawg who demanded full torso strippage; the “fourth judge” only asked him to dispense with an extra button, but I digress. Because while Idol proved its depressing stance as an equal-opportunity exploiter — and yet somehow let football player Aaron Austin Paul go home without so much as a simple ab flash — it also showed me a couple Golden Ticket-getters worth getting semi-excited about, and even managed to be halfway entertaining with the parade of rejects (see aforementioned Austin Paul). Okay, so I’ll need more evidence in Hollywood Week before making a full emotional commitment to the “miracle child” who wants to be the first black female mainstream country star, and the headkerchiefed karaoke hostess (super-hella talented, if a tad histrionic), but considering we’re only one week (and one audition hour) away from the true competitive start of season 9 (and the introduction of Ellen DeGeneres to the panel), I’m seeing the beer bottle as half full. What do you think, Idoloonies? Did you dig the Denver scene tonight? Any contestants you’re Google-searching with anticipation? Share your thoughts in the comments below, then come back to first thing tomorrow morning for my full TV Watch recap. (UPDATE: Click over to read Michael Slezak’s full recap of American Idol‘s Denver auditions now.) In the meantime, check out my review of Fantasia Barrino’s new single and my countdown of the top 20 contestants from season 9’s first three weeks, then follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak!