American Idol returned last night. Did you do your civic duty and watch it? If you did, you probably thought the same thing I did: Good lord but that new judge is annoying.

Yeah, her name is Kara (that's Kaaaaara, not the soft-A Kahhhhra Simon kept using) DioGuardi. She's a brassy songwriter and singer who, in one single episode, asserted herself as the second meanest judge, after Simon. (But his meanness has become sort of boring and banal, hers is at least more unpredictable by sole virtue of us not yet really having any idea who she is). And because she possesses less protruding genitalia than Mr. Cowell, I guess that makes her the bitch. The diva bitch!

This pre-packaged persona was trotted out during the moment when, in an episode otherwise devoid of scandal or drama—they mostly showed the good singers!—a bikini-clad songbird teetered in and sang a halfway decent rendition of "Vision of Love." At that point Ms. DioGuardi decided to show America her chops. So, she put her hands up in the air and howled her own version, to show the little orange chippy how it should be done.. A battle of the warbles began, and Paula tried to stay relevant and alpha-femaley by hooting and hollering while the embarrassing Randy just drooled and went gaga and Simon sighed. And who won? It's not entirely clear. The girl went to Hollywood, Kara embarrassed herself. But the girl also made a fool of herself, and Kara at least got her spotlight moment on her very first episode. A draw at best, I guess. Watch the clip above and determine for yourself.


It would be nice—not that it really matters, given that Idol is deliberately tone-deaf to most social issues, other than the occasional tee-hee'ing gay joke—to have a lady judge who not only seemed competent to judge, as Ms. DioGuardi sort of does (at least more so than Paula), but who was also of stable mind and character. I guess we'll have to wait til next year.

In the meantime, I'm totally going to watch the whole rest of this already-godforsaken season. Will you?