You know, I can't say that I miss Paula at all. I wasn't one of those who hated Kara last year - she actually had opinions, which made such a nice change from Paula - and I still don't hate her. Victoria Beckham was kind of a cross between Paula (in being positive and focusing on appearances, surprise surprise) and Kara with voice critiques. Mary J. Blige wasn't quite as good. Her breaking down into giggles so many times isn't very professional, though expected.
As for the contestants? Um...no comment for now. How many of the people who stand out in the audition process actually end up making it to the top 12? Not many. Not to say there weren't some people who seemed reasonably talented. The young kid who drives the boat and sang "Yesterday" was absolutely adorable. And I loved the long-haired Jim Morrison guy with the broken wrists (who's from Nazareth, just north of where I used to live in PA!). A lot of the girls who got through were good, but honestly, right now I can't think of any who absolutely blew me away.
I'll get pickier when we hit Hollywood and semi-finals. This is all too much about the stories to remember too much about the music.