Carrie Underwood Is 'Loving' New 'American Idol' Panel

'Steven and J.Lo are doing such an amazing job,' she tells MTV News.

Carrie Underwood has come a long way since she was the wide-eyed winner of "American Idol" back in 2005 — with a Grammy-winning country career under her belt — but she still takes the time to watch the show that made her a star.

When MTV News caught up with Underwood recently as she promoted her acting debut in the new film "Soul Surfer," we had to ask her thoughts on the changes to the new season, particularly the new faces added to the judges' panel.

"I am loving the judges," Underwood said. "I know Simon [Cowell] was always such a huge part of the show, but if I had just started watching now, I wouldn't miss it, you know what I mean? I think Steven [Tyler] and J.Lo are doing such an amazing job. I actually got the chance to talk to Steven Tyler, and I was like, 'I'm finding out that I like you more than I thought I did.' "

Underwood said she liked the Aerosmith frontman before he joined the show, but she's enjoying seeing a softer side of his rock-star persona.

"I've always liked Steven Tyler the artist, but as a person, he's really coming across [as] charming and warm and friendly and encouraging," she said. "Of course we always knew that J.Lo is sweet and beautiful, and she's just confirming all of our previous thoughts about her by being on the show. I'm really enjoying watching it."

So who are her favorite contestants? "I always have a few that I'm watching, but I never say who they are because I remember what it was like when I was on the show, and I never liked that [when past contestants picked favorites]."

Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.