24 Things We Know So Far About 'American Idol' Season 9

simon-cowell-ellen-degeneres-zap2it-320.jpg "American Idol's" Hollywood Week has concluded and judges Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara Dioguardi and Randy Jackson have sealed the fate of Season 9's hopefuls.

The Top 24 has been chosen and this year's male dozen and female dozen of contenders are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. So besides revealing the list of this year's soon-to-be-household names what else do we know so far:

1. Ellen DeGeneres is just the shot in the arm that the show needed. Now we've been on Team Ellen since her ABC sitcom, but some "Idol" watchers and aficionados wondered if DeGeneres had the judging chops to hold her own against the big bad Cowell. Well so far Ellen's exceeded expectations, demonstrating herself as both a competent opponent and colleague alongside Cowell at the judges table. Ellen and Simon's chemistry is palpable and it's clear the daytime talk show queen is having the time of her life. Also, no one can deny that Ellen sure can supply a mean fake out to contestants. But in all fairness, Ellen's sort of had a little previous practice in that department.

2. We're fairly convinced Top 24 finalist Haeley Vaughn was either a) separated at birth from Season 5 contestant Paris Bennett or b) is Paris Bennett with an alias and fierce weave.

3. Kara Dioguardi would rather go naked than wear fur? Or does Dioguardi just simply have a penchant for stripping down. First, there was a sexy, striptease duet with Bikini Girl (she was dared to do it after all). Secondly, there was a smokin' hot Maxim Magazine spread. But as sweet and easy on the eyes as Kara may be, we sincerely hope she doesn't opt for a third time if the phone rings and it's Hef on the other end. Keep it classy girl. 

4. Despite the media firestorm, Howard Stern will not be replacing Simon Cowell next season on "American Idol." But the shock jock sure has reminded the masses why he's still a media genius. After all it was Stern himself who ignited the blogosphere buzz and spun the rumor mill into overdrive with some carefully crafted statements on his radio show.

5. " You have no idea... You have no idea" what is in the water at the Fur's and Fer's households. Neither do we and we're not about to drink the crazy they're serving! But what we do know is that Jessica "Beggar Girl" Furney and Ashley "Crying Girl" Ferl have perhaps provided two of the most unforgettable "American Idol" moments in recent memory. And we don't mean unforgettable in a Katharine McPhee "Over the Rainbow" sort of way, we mean unforgettable in a Mariah Carey MTV "Cribs" or Mariah Carey Palm Springs Film Festival kind of way. 

6. Season 9's show format restoration just validates how right we all were about how painful last year's semi-finals were to watch. Can "American Idol" please compensate us for those hours we'll never get back? We accept Visa, Mastercard or a wire transfer.

7. Paula Abdul's intoxicating brand of judging provided laughter for the audience, some classic material for comediennes ( Kathy Griffin, that would be you), as well as tabloid fodder for the masses. And as endearing and comforting as the dance diva was to the "Idol" contestants, we actually don't miss Paula as much as we thought we would.

8.  Wise ones say that time heals all wounds, unless of course you're Brian Dunkelman. "Seacrest In! Seacrest Still In!" Yes, nine years later. That's gotta sting a little dude. No, actually that's gotta sting a lot. "Somewhere in the English country side, in a stately manor home" Dunkelman is weeping. That's how Sue sees it.

9. Ratings update: FOX's "American Idol" is the most watched show on television with a whopping "3 million viewers" tuning in every week. Seriously, just ask Top 24 finalist Crystal Bowersox she'll tell you. Ultimate contestant interview FAIL!
 
10. General Larry Platt's "Pants on the Ground" was an instant viral hit with its catchy lyrics and an "Idol" finale return is probably imminent. But "Pants" hasn't proven to be a formidable opponent for William Hung's "She Bangs."

11.  Confidence lands you in the Top 24. Congratulations, Michael Lynche! Cockiness only makes for good "Idol" TV during Hollywood Week elimination just prior to when the judges serve a big slice of humble pie to a contestant. Sorry, Mary Powers.

12. Borrowing from EW Magazine, our weekly entertainment bible...  In: Grandma backstory ( Katie Stevens) 5 Minutes Ago: Military backstory ( Michael Sarver, Phil Stacey) Out: Single mom backstory ( Fantasia Barrino).

13. Katy Perry is more cold than hot when guest judging. Joe Jonas is a man of few words. Avril Lavigne did little to change the public's perception of her attitude and it's evident that a nasty personality trumps vocal talent when it pertains to record sales. "The Best Damn Thing" about Avril's last album was its sagging numbers. Mary J. Blige was killing us when she lost her cookies over Larry Platt's audition. Neil Patrick Harris was born to judge "Idol." Wait, Shania Twain and Victoria Beckham were guest judges this season? Oh yeah that's right.

14. David Cook original songs have just about muscled out Kelly Clarkson covers during audition rounds.

15. We're cautiously optimistic about judge Randy Jackson's retirement of the term "dawg." But there's no telling at this point if the "Dawg Pound" will make it's not-so-triumphant return for Top 12 Male performance night. We'll place this observation in the inconclusive file for now.

16. Now that Simon Cowell has one foot out the door for "X-Factor" he isn't even bothering to conceal his disinterest.

17. It's too soon to predict whether a male or female will take Season 9's coveted "American Idol" crown. Whereas, Season 8's disastrous format made it easy to predict almost instantly that a male would win the title.

18. Incorporating instruments into auditions has lost its shiny, new toy appeal. In other words, the talent of playing and singing didn't seem to hold as much weight this season then walking and chewing gum at the same time.

19. Originality is the key more than ever. Most of the aspiring artists who were carbon copies of "American Idol" contenders of yesteryear failed to impress. And "Idol" hopefuls with auditions which Simon Cowell's says he's seen a 100 times before, such as Angela Martin, were issued their walking papers.

20. No matter how many times the judges advise contestants not to take on songs "bigger than them" or "bigger than their voice" they still don't listen 8 seasons later. Sigh.

21. The odds are stacked against Alex Lambert purely because of his name. We've been there, done that already in Season 8 with the other A. Lambert.
 
22. Season 8 reigning "American Idol" champ Kris Allen will return to the show to kick off "Idol Gives Back" in Haiti. Hey, what can we say it's 2 a.m. and we're running out of creative steam.

23. "American Idol" finale will air in May 2010. (Please refer to No. 22 for excuse for No. 23).

24. We're minding our manners in 2010, so this is the part where we're not going to say that "American Idol" costume designer Jessica Paster, hair stylist Dean Banowetz and makeup artist Mezhgan Hussainy really have their work cut out for them this season.

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Related:

' American Idol' finishes the Top 24 with Lacey Brown, Andrew Garcia and...
Chris Golightly disqualified from Top 24 for old contract?
Shelby Dressel stopping by 'Ellen' next week
Kris Allen kicks off 'Idol Gives Back' Feb. 25
Jessica Furney wanted 'to go down swinging'

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Photo credit: FOX