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What Former 'Idol' Contestants Thought of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler

Season 7's Michael Johns and season 9's Didi Benami give THR their critique.

Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson
Michael Becker/FOX

American Idol season 10 premiere ratings may have dropped, but former contestants loved the Fox show and thought new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez fit right in.

"It was great - the new judges rocked," season 9's Didi Benami tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Steven, Jennifer and Randy [Jackson] were a great combo."   Some viewers thought Lopez was too nice with her remarks, but Benami (who is now working on a new album) said, "She did great. Some people have no idea how incredibly terrifying [auditioning] is. I love that the judges responded in a more kind, fun-loving way. In my heart, I feel we should really be advocating this kind of treatment as opposed to snarky mean jabs that can rip your heart out."   Aussie singer Michael Johns, who finished in eighth place on the seventh season, also supported Lopez, who seemed to have a tough time turning away contestants on Wednesday's premiere ("Why did I sign up for this?!" she exclaimed at one point.)   "I think she just didn't realize how hard it is to break someone's heart," said Johns. "Ellen [DeGeneres] experienced that too." Watch 2011's worst American Idol auditions.   But Johns (who is working on a new album, with Jackson, due in the fall) said Tyler "was amazing. He had perfect critiques, was funny and knew when to be stern. I did dig how Steven knew lyrics and jammed out a little. It was a cool moment."   Johns said he also was glad to see Randy Jackson show more authority. "We are finally getting to see the true Randy," he said. “He's so knowledgeable and funny, and we are seeing that now."