TV Throwdown: Paula Abdul Vs. Ellen DeGeneres

When Paula Abdul first pulled out of American Idol a few months ago, it was kind of like finding out that your crazy Uncle Arthur wouldn't be attending the family reunion.

While it's easy to make cracks about Arthur, the fact remains that he is an integral and longtime part of the gathering, and partially responsible for its success. The same goes for Paula and her eight-season stint on American Idol.

Now, she's being replaced by comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, which has had the internet abuzz since it was announced last week.

Of course, everyone is drawing comparisons, so why should be be any different? This seems like the perfect time to pit them against each other in a TV Throwdown, no?


With six No. 1 hits on the Billboard charts during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Paula has lived the American Idol dream. Her achievements were built more on catchy hooks and exceptionally choreographed music videos than a stellar voice, but her success cannot be denied.

There's no doubt Ellen is a music fan, busting a move to a different song each day on her talk show. And in 2002, she covered Salt-N-Pepa's "Shoop," when she hosted the VH1 Divas concert – it wasn't half bad, either.

Being a music fan and living the life of a pop star aren't the same, though. So in this category, Abdul is victorious.

Ellen: 0

Paula: 1


Paula's bizarre, unintelligible comments often became the focal point of her judging, making her a frequent feature on The Soup, and the subject of ridicule and speculative drug addiction/alcoholism in the tabloids. Paula's personality was often overshadowed by all her bumbling, and her role as Simon Cowell's punching bag made everything just a little bit more sad.

Ellen's articulate, quick wit will be a welcome change to this now four-person judging panel. She won't waste time tripping over her words, and her easy-going confidence will give her the gumption she needs to put Simon in his place. Plus, her shrewd sense of humor will inject new life into the show -- somewhere that new ho-hum judge Kara Dioguardi failed.

Ellen: 1

Paula: 1


Paula's got eight seasons of AI under her belt, as well as one season of her ill-advised reality show, Hey Paula.

But that's no contest for Ellen's experience. In addition to her own sitcom, stand-up specials and various acting roles, Ellen has also hosted all the biggest award shows (Emmys, Academy Awards, Grammys) and served a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance. A bonafide celebrity in her own right, she will slide into this job with ease.

Ellen: 2

Paula: 1


Since the talent show began, Paula's been the resident mentor/nurturer for contestants. When Simon skewered a singer, she offered them hope and encouraging words. When Randy Jackson called someone dawg, she called them sweetheart. And even when someone butchered a song, she focused on the positive.

An activist for both gay rights and animal rights, Ellen is kind and caring and stands up for things in which she believes. We expect that she'll be able to offer encouragement just as well as Paula. But she hasn't proven herself yet, and Paula leaves some big shoes to fill in this category, so she scores the point here.

Ellen: 2

Paula: 2


At some point, Simon always stresses that personal style is part of the package that makes an American Idol. We shouldn't expect any less from judges.

And bless her heart, but Paula makes some of the worst style choices we've ever seen. She's donned feathers, sequins and mesh – often all at once – behind the judging table and she consistently lands on award show worst-dressed lists.

While Ellen's quirky style isn't exactly par for the course, it's always inspired and well put-together. The Converse and her Cover Girl status put her over the top. Icing, meet cake.

Ellen: 3

Paula: 2

Bottom line: No matter who replaces Paula, American Idol won't be the same without her. But she's not coming back, and Ellen's got a lot of what it takes to do the job. She excels where Paula was challenged – and honestly, do you really need to have singing experience to offer an opinion on a glorified karaoke contest? Viewers may be losing likeable, crazy Uncle Arthur, but they're gaining a sassy Aunt Eunice – and she's a big, big star.

When soap opera characters are replaced by other actors, it's initially a shock. But we eventually get used to them -- and many times, we even like them better.