Season Nine of 'American Idol' Premieres on Fox

The ninth season of American Idol premiered on January 12, 2010, on Fox.

Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi have all returned as judges, and Ellen DeGeneres has permanently replaced Paula Abdul as the fourth judge. Idol Gives Back also returned this season and was held on April 21, 2010, during the top seven results show. The top 24 semi-finals format used in the fourth through seventh seasons also returned this season. This will be Simon Cowell's last season judging on American Idol.

After the season began, Paula Abdul did not return as the fourth judge on the panel, having announced in the beginning of August 2009 that she was leaving the show due to unresolved contract negotiations. Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Shania Twain, Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, Joe Jonas, Neil Patrick Harris and Kristin Chenoweth were brought in to star as guest judges during the auditions phase.

After making the decision to utilize guest judges in Abdul's absence, Fox chairman Peter Rice stated that they would find a permanent fourth judge before the season premiere in January 2010, leading the confirmation on September 9, 2009 by Ellen DeGeneres that she would be joining the show as the new permanent fourth judge for the rounds held at CBS Television City for Hollywood Week and thereafter, onto the live shows.

In addition, Simon Cowell announced shortly before the ninth season began that it would be his last season on American Idol. Cowell will be leaving the show to begin preparations for an American version of his talent show The X-Factor.