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'American Idol' Returns for 11th Season

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The 11th season of American Idol arrives on Fox Wednesday night, and host Ryan Seacrest says for some viewers, the return of the singing competition show can't come soon enough.

"I've been hearing a lot of 'We can't wait,'" Seacrest tells ABC News Radio. "Actually, I've been hearing more, 'I can't wait for American Idol to come back this next season' than I've heard in two or three years."

Seacrest says he finds that interesting, because there's so much competition -- like The Voice and The X Factor -- but, he notes, "From what I hear, there's just something about the original, and the Americana, that is American Idol."

Michael Slezak,'s American Idol expert, thinks viewers are pumped for Idol because The X Factor's strategy backfired -- instead of making people forget about Idol, it only made them miss it more.

"I think anticipation is high for Season 11 because people were really let down by what The X Factor delivered," he tells ABC News Radio.

So what's different about this new season?  Well, judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are no longer new, and Seacrest says they're more seasoned.

"The first season...Steven and Jennifer, were still sort of trying to understand what it is that you're looking for initially to go through the process to be the idol," the host explains. "But now that they see what the process is, I think, they look at the auditions a little differently.  And 'tougher' wouldn't be the word, but they're much more specific in what they want this year."

As for what kinds of contestants we'll see, Seacrest says Scotty McCreery's victory last year inspired many country singers to audition this time around, but that's just another example of how the show has grown musically.

"When we started the competition, it was just pop," he said.  "It was strictly, mainstream, stereotypical pop and with each year it's broadened out a little bit and now you see all walks of life auditioning.  It makes the show interesting."

American Idol will kick off Season 11 Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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