I am both an early and late adopter of American Idol. I watched it early on with the kids I babysat, embarrassing them as I imitated the contestants in front of their large floor-to-ceiling windows, in full few of their neighbors. Somehow this season, I happened upon it again, tuning in one quiet night home alone while making dinner, and regularly checking in throughout the season. If I didn’t watch a full episode, I’d watch the highlights the next day—especially to see Jennifer Lopez.

I am fairly convinced by Dave Holmes’s theory that part of American Idol’s demise was the loss of judges like Simon Cowell, who brought a meanness but also a certain seriousness to the proceedings. Since Cowell’s departure, judges on Idol have largely been in it for self-promotion (see: Mariah and Nicki’s feuding), and though they’re not benefitting from it the same way the judges on The Voice do, it’s obvious from their perfectly-timed musical projects that that’s the main reason they’re doing it.

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Lopez is the first to admit that the show has rejuvenated her career, telling People that doing it after she had taken a break to have kids perked her up. Definitely in the category of stars whose diva personas might have at one point taken a toll on their overall image, Idol has humanized Lopez, allowing her to spend the last few years doing delightful interviews where she can talk about herself without seeming like she’s talking about herself. As she explained to People:

“I had realized I wasn’t feeling great about myself, and then when I was on Idol and people were seeing me and they were like, ‘We like her,’ honestly ... That’s nice.”

You know what I like about J.Lo? The faces she makes while watching people perform. This isn’t specific to the most recent season; take a look at her during the early auditions back when Steven Tyler was still around:

But this season is the first I’ve watched mostly comprehensively, so it’s the one from which I’ve been able to enjoy her facial expressions the most. For instance, here’s J.Lo looking wary during an audition; she would ultimately turn to her fellow judges and say of this contestant, “Good looking too.”

Getting worked up about the show being over.

As a side note, she also takes time to educate her fellow judges.

Before this moment, a contestant asked Lopez if he could give her a hug, to which she responded, “Absolutely.” Despite the fact that she did not look THAT into it, she said later,“That was a genuine hug. That was real.”

Here she is watching a 15-year-old girl with braces play the harp while singing “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan.

I agree.

Mid jam.

It was during this episode that Jennifer was particularly emotional, telling Trent that she was thankful she’s been on Idol to watch good performances like his.

He cried.

As did she, infamously at this point, while watching La’Porsha perform “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige.

You will be missed!


Images via Fox.

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