Jan. 24, 2007 — -- Something strange happened on the way to Memphis on "American Idol" -- Simon got nicer.
Just when it looked like the "American Idol" judges were gearing up for another round of contestant bashing, they suddenly began to change their tune.
Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul had been criticized for their increasingly harsh treatment of contestants in the new season.
When "American Idol" made stopped in Memphis, Tenn., viewers saw a kinder, gentler side.
"Probably one of the best voices we've heard," Cowell said to one contestant. "One hundred million percent, yes."
The notoriously nasty Cowell even agreed with Abdul, a rarity on a show known for verbal jabs.
"Everybody seemed happy," said Us Weekly's Katrina Szish. "It almost seemed like there was a happy drink that had been passed out in Memphis."
It was a kinder "Idol" especially after last week's pugnacious premiere, when Cowell said to one contestant: "You look like one of those creatures with the big eyes."
"Last week's 'American Idol' was probably the nastiest we have ever seen," Szish said.
This week, Cowell even complimented one contestant for being a "brilliant singer."
But don't count on Cowell's softer side sticking around. Before the end of the show, he threw in a signature slap.
"No, no, no," he chided one contestant. "It's bye, bye, bye, actually."