Generated in a government lab from the brain cells of the world's greatest geniuses, the American Idol judging panel may appear superficially human, but they are in fact an unstoppable judging machine. Except Ellen. She's just there to add colour.
Here's a fun game to play whilst you're waiting forever to find out who they're kicking out this week (the douchebag with the crimped hair? the crazy girl with stalker eyes? just tell us already). As we've established, the esteemed all-powerful panel are all totally human - you can tell from their strikingly individual personalities, right? Whether it's wearing a cardigan and saying "dog" a lot, or exuding the level of niceness you might expect from a work colleague who kind of had to come to your leaving party even though they didn't really know/like you, the panel sure are a bunch of characters. Except Ellen, who really needs to lighten up.
We all have a favourite (mine was Paula, until she was betrayed), and we all think that we're like one of the judges deep down (I'm like Simon, because I'm English and I like staring at the other judges while they're talking). Let's see if you're right... lights down, it's time for the Which Idol Judge Are You? quiz...
You've just finished a hard shift at the studio telling people things they already know deep down. How do you spend the rest of the evening?
The other judges insist on going to Fuck E Cheese again. You order everything on the menu. How was it?
The lovechild of a lonely, confused woman and a Fender bass guitar, Randy assumes the role of Judge That Has To Try and Talk Over Still Delirious Audience. His tried and tested method for doing this is to repeat the phrase "check it out" until the din subsides. What can we say? The title is a total professional.
A professional dick...
Randy as a judge is a generally affable and positive, expect when contestants sing that Hero song, which triggers a chemical reaction within Jackson that causes him to bark and salivate uncontrollably. He has never had a conversation with host Ryan Seacrest - it's nothing personal, they just never got round to it, and the show will probably finish soon, so there's not much point now. Randy and Simon once hugged too long at a wrap party, and it got a bit awkward.
Away from Idol, Randy likes to dress in a silk robe and strut around his LA mansion, and will often go hours answering only to the name "The Bass of Spades". Sadly, Randy also has to spend a lot of time getting shopping, picking up dry cleaning and doing various other tasks that Randy himself describes as "just a'ight" for him.
Randy is also the physical manifestation of God on Earth.
Drafted in when it was realised that 90% of Americans viciously hated the other judges, Ellen's role is to say things that seem a bit corny, but you gradually find yourself being amused by, until you realise that sitting in your underwear watching this show for three straight hours is all you're good for.
After a number of part-time acting jobs (including a walk-on part in Diff'rent Strokes as a mischievous, slightly racist gnome) Ellen found fame with her TV show, Ellen. This correspondent remembers it being quite funny but can't remember anything about it, a view shared by millions worldwide, and even Ellen herself.
Ellen has an almost supernatural ability to judge the talent and commercial ability of any individual that easily surpasses her fellow judges. She's paid to make jokes though, so fuck it.
Ellen is married. To a girl.
Kara may appear to be the least interesting of the four judges; professional, balanced and nice to the point of blandness, you'd think there must be a sinister side to her. There really isn't. She's just sort of normal. Apart from that guy she killed*.
Kara's judging style revolves around a conceptualised idea of how each performer should be doing. These visions are created using automatic writing once the finalists are announced and kept in a folder on dioGuardi's lap throughout the series. Kara then awards each contestant a level of praise (with appropriate hand gesture intensity) based on the similarity to the mad scribble she has in front of her.
Andrew Garcia recently drew praise for his performance of "Can't Buy Me Love", which matched dioGuardi's picture of a Halloween pumpkin on an almost mathematical level.
Kara is actually just a heavily sedated Paula Adbul in a wig.
"We're gonna need more Ritalin..."
*This is false. He didn't technically die.
Carved from mahogany with a woven horsehair flat-top, Simon Cowell spent several years gathering dust in a London loft before he was magically brought to life. Now a real-life man, Simon has sought revenge for his previous life as a puppet by learning to control all those around him. From repeatedly slapping down pathologically passive-aggressive host Ryan Seacrest to making Randy tremble uncontrollably without touching him, Cowell is the all-powerful alpha judge on this show.
Despite his massive fame, there are no photographs of Cowell in existence. Here instead is a picture of Seacrest, a man who believes Cowell is his nemesis and does weight training in front of a line drawing of Cowell's face, whilst Simon himself can barely remember his name.
"Hey dude... is your kid sister home?"
Despite his status as a judge on a number of music shows, and a glittering career as a record company mogul, Simon doesn't really care for pop music, and would rather read a book.
Simon's favourite ever Idol contestant is Sanjiya.