Some have felt Simon Cowell has softened up when the seventh season of American Idol started last month, but it appears he was just saving his biggest zingers for the later rounds, much to the chagrin of Paula Abdul.

“He’s ornery and he’s telling kids they’re grotesque," Paula tells Extra. "And it’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s Simon. What am I [thinking]? It’s Simon!’”

The Brit called contestant Danny Noriega "grotesque" after his rendition of Elvis Presley’s "Jailhouse Rock" on Tuesday, and he continued this tongue-lashing well into Wednesday’s girls’ night. After seven years, Paula is still surprised she has tolerated her co-judge for so long and admits she wonders how Simon’s girlfriend, Extra correspondent Terri Seymour, puts up with him.

“How does Terri ever put up with that? I mean, how do I put up with it?” she says. "I just watched Extra tonight and he’s… a whole piece was put together where he’s totally misbehaving.”

But it’s not all hate backstage. “We love him,” Paula says.

As for herself, Paula currently staging a comeback. The ’80s pop icon unveiled her new single "Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow" last month and the video for the tune leaked onto the Internet Wednesday, not that the 45-year-old minds.

"It’s supposed to world premiere on American Idol [today] but I guess it world premiered [yesterday]!” she says. “I heard the response was really great. It’s all you can wish for."

For more on Paula, tune in to Extra tonight!

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