Image Credit: Michael Becker/FoxIt’s three weeks into a Simon-less American Idol, and… I haven’t missed him. Now I reserve the right to reevaluate the judges’ panel again when we get to the live shows and they have to offer critiques other than a simple “yes” or “no,” but right now, I’m 100 percent satisfied with Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. There’s at least three times an episode when I tell my TV, “I love Steven Tyler.” Shockingly, it’s not when he’s rhyming random profanity that has to be bleeped (although I enjoy that, too), it’s when he’s visibly enjoying hearing someone sing well. He genuinely appreciates it, and is excited by it, and his face shows it. As my colleague Kate Ward says, it’s much more fun to watch the show when the judges clearly are having fun and want to be there. It feels like season 1 or 2, and less like season 8 and 9, when you could tell Cowell was biding his time. As for Lopez, I’ve grown to love the way she tends to look off-camera at someone, who I assume is a producer. I’m sure you’ve noticed it. It seems to happen when she’s just heard a great backstory and she’s thinking, for the love of God, I hope this person can actually sing, so she doesn’t have to crush his or her dream. In my mind, she’s nervously searching for some kind of assurance on a producer’s face that it will be okay because she’s invested. (And if that producer is good, he or she doesn’t give it to her! Suffer, Lopez! It’s drama!) It also happens after someone surprises her with a unique sound. Then, in my mind, the look is a wordless, We’re really doing it!.

Let’s take it to a vote below.

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