While the world watched American Idol this week to witness Ellen DeGeneres' first spin in the judges' chair alongside Simon, Kara and Randy (Uh, Paula who?), so did former star contestants of the hit Fox talent search. UsMagazine.com reached out to several of them to get their take on the comedian-turned-talk show queen's anticipated new incarnation. Here's their feedback:
David Cook (Season 7 winner): "I thought she did great and seemed like a natural!"
Mandisa (Season 5): "I give Ellen an 'A'! I knew Ellen would bring much needed comedic relief in a very high pressure situation, but I was pleasantly surprised that her critiques were also constructive and helpful. Throughout the season, I expect that Ellen will speak the truth in love (like our dearly missed Paula), but will also temper her comments with her gentle yet firm humor. She's a welcome addition!"
Constantine Maroulis (Season 4): "She killed it! Very funny and witty. I thought Ellen contributed well. She knows what it takes."
Kimberley Locke (Season 2): "'A' for Ellen! Her love for the show really shined through -- she was funny and truthful! I personally wasn't sure how she would be able to contribute to the show [at first], but after seeing her in action, I get it. She is the perfect replacement for Paula; kind and compassionate to the contestants. It is important for the contestants to know that one of the judges will show them compassion throughout the competion. Ellen is a great addition to the show; the contestants are very lucky to have her! I look forward to the day when she and Simon have their first "fight." Welcome to the Idol Family, Ellen!"
Kimberly Caldwell (Season 2): "She supplied much needed comedy relief and being judged herself on stages her whole life makes her totally qualified for the job!"
Jim Verraros (Season 1): "She's solid, and bridges the gap between humor and honesty. I think she's doing a fantastic job; not to mention she brings a sort of carefree feel to the judging panel. Love her."
And last but not least, fellow judge Kara DioGuardi had this to tell Us: "I think she did great. I think that Ellen brings a sense of humor of course, but she also knows more about music than you think she does and she gave good feedback that was constructive. You have to remember that [as judges] we're being edited. My experience of her at Hollywood Week is very different from what you're seeing, because I've spent hours with her and I went through many, many auditions and listened to what she had to say."
Tell Us: How do you rate Ellen's first week on Idol?