There are few things I look forward to more each year than those first words from Ryan Seacrest and that cheesy opening music and animation.

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“This … is ‘American Idol.'”

Awww yes, there are few things I look forward to more each year than those words from Ryan Seacrest and that cheesy opening music and animation. As much as “play ball,” or the release of Madden, or the first full day of sunshine in Seattle (not connected with “play ball” in any way because it’s usually months later).

BTW maybe when Simon Cowell exits next season with his massive salary, the producers of “American Idol” can put a few grand into a new opening.

Highlights:

• Holy smokes, the first contestant out of the gate rocked it with a half shirt and all. LOL. I think I need to invite Janet McNamara over for my next Whitney Houston sing-off.

• From the female montage early in the show, keep an eye on Jess Wolf who sang “People Get Ready” originally by The Impressions. I think she has a little bit of Kelly Clarkson in her.

• “American Idol” met “Top Chef” around 8:30 p.m. when Amadeo Diricco hit the stage. I have to admit, it made me hungry. That dude put his stomach behind his audition and nailed it. I liked his passion. He reminds me of Ruben Studdard minus the sweat bead towel. This average Amadeo, boy next door, might just be a wildcard to watch. Awesome victory celebration.

Kara DioGuardi vs. Simon. I have to admit Kara has grown on me. I want to see Simon bring her to tears by the end of the season, wait strike that, I’d prefer to see Kara bring Simon to tears.