Kelly ClarksonTuesday marked the start of the 9th season of American Idol. This new season is starting on a different footing than the previous years. First: Paula Abdul has left the show. Second: talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has been brought on as a fourth judge. Thankfully Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson are still sitting in the judges’ seats. Kara DioGuardi, who joined the show last year, will also be returning.

I admit to an obsession with the show. There’s something exciting about the start of a new season. Something thrilling about watching person after person audition to be the new, big music sensation. Over the years, audiences everywhere have watched the talent show launch a number of average people to instant stardom, including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

Because of shows like American Idol and Britain’s Got Talent we get to watch the average girl or boy next-door become a celebrity. In my opinion, it’s that fact that has us tuning back week after week. We feel connected to the contestants. We hurt when they sing a wrong note or try to sing through a voice-sapping cold. We look for their parents, siblings and other loved ones in the audience. Through the weeks the contestants become more than a face on the TV screen. They are someone we can relate to; and as a result we root for them all the louder.

As proof, take Susan Boyle. She walked onto the Britain’s Got Talent stage less than a year ago and wowed the entire world when she opened her mouth to sing. She looked like any middle-aged woman you’d see at your local grocer. Her style was far from impressive. Her life was anything but glamorous. But her voice… wow, her voice was amazing. Nearly overnight she went from small-town nobody to an icon of hidden talent. Her album, I Dreamed a Dream, was Amazon’s best-selling album in pre-sales.

Season 9 of Idol, with or without Paula, will be the same. We’ll fall in love with certain characters and hope others don’t make it to the top 12. Simon Cowell, who has said this will be his last season with the show, will be as harsh and to the point as always. Kara will offer her kind words of critique. Randy is likely to splatter his speeches with words like ‘yo’ and ‘dog’. Host Ryan Seacrest will still take joking digs at Simon and begin each show with his signature “This is American Idol.” And Ellen… well, we’ll just have to wait and see how she turns out as a judge.

From the first season to the last, Idol winners are: Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook and Kris Allen.

What do you like best about watching talent shows like American Idol?

Katie Hinderer

Katie Hinderer is a freelance writer and social media enthusiast. She holds a degree in Journalism from Marquette University. Over the years she has transitioned from traditional publishing...