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January 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

American Idol launched its tenth season on Fox Wednesday night with 26.1 million viewers, down from 29.8 million for the premiere of Season 9, 30.4 million for Season 8, and 33.4 million for Season 7. In other words, it dropped no more this year than it has in recent years, despite the departure of Simon Cowell. Critics agreed it was a far kinder, gentler Idol with Cowell gone. Indeed when newly added judge Jennifer Lopez rejected her first contestant, she exclaimed, “Oh, my God, I hate this. Why did I sign up for this? I want to go home.” When another contestant’s eyes filled with tears when she was turned down by Randy Jackson, Lopez and Steven Tyler, the other new judge, set aside the qualms they had expressed about her and voted to keep her in the competition. Commented New York Daily News music critic Jim Farber: “Having lost their most distinctive voice (Simon’s) they seemingly decided to stand out by offering a rebuke to his entire m.o.” Nevertheless, for the most part critics banged out positive judgments to the judges, and those who did not reserved final verdicts. “Time will tell whether or not the new panel will find its groove, and whether the show will lose its appeal without the brutal honesty of the great shade-thrower himself, Simon Cowell,” wrote Boston Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert.