‘American Idol’ Judges Predict ’15-20 Superstars’ This Season

'We switch on being brutal,' Steven Tyler said when asked which judge would be the new Simon Cowell.

Now that the new “American Idol” panel has had a chance to get down to some actual work judging contestants, newbies Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have finally gotten a taste of what it means to crush dreams one minute and set them soaring another.

On Thursday, the Aerosmith singer and movie/pop star joined original judge Randy Jackson to give a preview of their chemistry on the upcoming 10th season of “Idol” and tease the talent pool for the first Simon Cowell-less go-round for the show.

“We’ve put a bunch of people through — probably more than they have in the past,” Lopez said during a break from “Idol” auditions on Thursday. “We are confident that we have, I would say, 15 to 20 real superstars, I think. Really, really good people. … That’s a big word to use, but definitely people with a lot of talent who could be recording artists for sure.”

Jackson said the oddball trio is getting along well so far. Meanwhile, Tyler answered questions about whether anyone had stepped up yet to take Cowell’s place as the bearer of bad news to the inevitable parade of delusional croakers looking for their 15 seconds of fame.

“We switch on being brutal,” the excitable Rock and Roll Hall of Famer said. “We don’t beat them up. Some really think they’re all that, and we let them down easy. Sometimes it’d be nice to flambé them.”

Lopez added, “I think everyone tried to be as honest as they can without breaking anyone’s spirits. We’re not out to cut them down or make a joke of them.”

And, as the judges reliably do every season, Jackson suggested that the talent pool this year is better than the one they’ve had in “many, many ‘Idol’ seasons.” Lopez hinted that there have been a number of “great” country singers so far this year, perhaps setting viewers up for a winner who could take on the mantle of one of the show’s biggest breakout stars, Carrie Underwood.

Both Lopez and Tyler said they’ve heard some of their best-known songs quite a bit during auditions, and some aspiring singers even did a decent job on them. The frequently bedazzled Aerosmith singer did have one sharp rebuke, though, and it wasn’t for the countless contestants who’ve tried to impress him with his band’s power ballad “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”

Following harsh comments from Kid Rock about Tyler’s “Idol” gig , in which the Detroit rapper said it was the “stupidest thing [Tyler has] ever done in his life,” Tyler said his onetime VMA duet buddy was simply misguided. “He’s just jealous. … And he’s working his new record, so God bless him,” the veteran Tyler quipped.

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