updated 02/14/2011 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 02/14/2011 AT 3:45 PM ET
“It’s great,” the season 6 winner tells PEOPLE of the show’s new panel. “Jennifer Lopez was a mentor on my season of Idol so I’m excited to see her sitting there, and Steven Tyler, I wasn’t expecting [him] to actually be a judge, but I love him!”
What makes Sparks a fan of Tyler?
“He’s hilarious,” she said at the Belvedere Red Pre-Grammy Usher Performance in Hollywood. “When he asked [a contestant], ‘Did you eat a lot of paint chips as a kid?’ I was like, ‘He did not just say that!’ ”
The joke hit close to home for the singer, 21, who added, “I did when I was younger – I definitely did eat paint chips!”
Despite her enthusiasm for Idol’s new judges, Sparks is happy she had her Idol moment with the original panel.
“Things went pretty well for me when I performed in front of Simon, Paula and Randy, so I don’t know if I would ever want to change that,” she says. “If I had a chance to audition on front of Jennifer and Steven I think that it might have been a more current song. They seem more willing to give second chances this time around.”