Tomorrow's premiere of "American Idol" marks the first that Simon Cowell and his caustic criticisms will be absent from the judging panel. Pop Tarts sat down with the new judges to get their take on what else has changed, and what remains the same.
“What was refreshing was that it was so much fun. It was definitely emotional, which I thought was missing a bit, and the fun that was lacking in the past few years is back,” Lopez told FOX411’s Pop Tarts. “You guys (turns to Randy) had that in the beginning, you used to have a lot of fun in the beginning.”
Host Ryan Seacrest, who has also been with ‘Idol’ since its U.S debut in 2002, concurred.
“She’s right. It’s seamless, we don’t think about what we’re going to say. We obviously don’t plan what we’re going to do, and it’s just fun,” he said.
And when you’re a guy spending hours on end with the bootylicious J-Lo, that’s bound to bring about some good times – like examining the pop diva’s a-line, “nude” colored dress.
“They all want to wear my dress, that’s the thing,” Lopez laughed. “You thought I was the only girl on the show, but I’m not.”
Seacrest also went on to praise the pop diva for looking “skinny” (apparently she “went on a cleanse.”)
And even though he’s been in the entertainment industry for over 40 years, rocker Steven Tyler, who generally stayed out of the banter that his three co-stars excitedly engaged in, was still overcome with nerves when first starting out in his new-found role in the “A.I” hot seat.
“I was nervous, sure. I was nervous about saying the right thing at the wrong time, or the wrong thing at the right time,” he explained. “It’s gotten easier. It does get easier. For the first couple (of contestants) I didn’t want to be cruel, I’ve got three daughters. I know people have a voice, they are born with a voice, but that’s not what we are here for. Randy keeps reminding me that it is 2011, ‘American Idol,’ high standards, high bar, and they have got to go through that and I’ve got to be able to see that, see the whole thing.”
Lopez too initially struggled to find her feet.
“I found it very difficult in the beginning, it was about finding my style of how to say things and then once I did that it was fine,” she told Pop Tarts. “We deliver our message in a way that can help them actually grow in this process.”
But if anyone is concerned that 2011’s panel may be a little too soft and pre-occupied with not stripping aspiring artists of their confidence with harsh remarks, it sounds as though Mr. Jackson might actually be the one to pick up where Cowell left off.
“You’ll see all sides of me. Before, people saw only one side because there was Paula, there was Simon. I think you will see a new version of the Dawg. There’s maybe a little more hair on the Dawg,” Jackson said on a phone conference last week. “You’ll see me take more of an assertive role and trying to guide it a little bit…I think you’ll be like, ‘Wow, Dawg!’ ”
"American Idol" kicks off its 10th season on Wednesday on FOX.
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay