J.Lo, Randy, Steven, & Ryan Officially Returning to Idol: What Changes Do You Want to See?

In what amounts to a very high-profile dotting of the i’s and crossing of the t’s, Fox announced this afternoon that Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler, and Ryan Seacrest will all be back when American Idol‘s eleventh season kicks off Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012.

“From the very first day of auditions, we knew we had something special in our new judges panel, and we’re so happy that America felt that way too,” said Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment at Fox, said in a release. “Together with Ryan – who is fantastic day in and day out – they built an incredible connection with both the contestants and our viewers, and I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome them all back to Idol for another season.”

Now look, I could easily throw on my cloak of visible sarcasm and rewrite Darnell’s statement — replacing “special” with “evil,” and maybe swapping “back to Idol for another season” with “to the Gates of Hell for all eternity” — but let’s be serious for a second: There were brief and scattered moments in Season 10 when Steven, Ryan, and yes, even Jennifer were rock solid, and occasionally terrific.

Steven was warm and witty and encouraging — without giving gold stars to absolutely everyone — during the audition rounds. (Yeah, he had the help of Idol‘s editing team, but you can’t create something from nothing.) And there was a period from Top 11 Week to, say, Top 7 Week — before she decided it was her No. 1 mission in life to drive an iron spike through the heart of Haley Reinhart’s Idol dreams — where Jennifer was offering incisive, constructive critiques, and looking pretty sensational while doing it.

So with my heart filled with optimism (or at least stony resignation that the ink on Randy’s contract has dried, and Simon Fuller won’t be paying him off to go sit in the Dawg House), I present the following poll for your consideration:

What other changes do you want to see in Season 11 of Idol? Will you be watching for sure, or are you drawing a line in the sand and ordering your “Team X Factor” and “Team The Voice” t-shirts online? Sound off below, and for all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!