Ellen DeGeneres' first episode of American Idol could have been her 100th. She fit right in.
Not only did the show wisely not dwell on her too much, leaving the emphasis on the terrifying "sudden death" round of Hollywood week, but she wasn't too funny, either.
Meaning, we hope, there's plenty left in the tank for future rounds.
But while DeGeneres looked very serious in her reading glasses and crushed dreams like a grizzled veteran, she still brought some much-needed funny to the proceedings—an element Idol has always possessed, only this time it was coherent and intentional!
Not that Paula Abdul wasn't missed...
Andrew Garcia paid excellent homage to the former Idol judge with his acoustic version of "Straight Up," which for him was a straight shot into the dreaded group round.
"That was genius," raved Kara DioGuardi. "Paula would be screaming and yelling and clapping and dancing..."
Yes, we get it.
Among the familiar round-one auditioners chosen to continue the journey with Andrew were Casey James (who actually doesn't need to take his shirt off to entertain), 16-year-old Haeley Vaughn, rocker mom Mary Powers, freshly tattooed Crystal Bowersox, L.A. waitress Didi Benami and Michael Lynche, whose wife had just gone into labor with their first child when he took the stage.
But while they are certainly deserving, all will be humbled by the group round, which tends to be the bane of the contestants' collective existence, be it because of the late nights, or the personality clashes, or the sheer fact that some people are just meant to sing alone.
Tune in Wednesday to find out who pulls through.
Did you hear who might be taking Simon's place next year?!