"I get very involved and attached to the kids, in the sense of their trajectory and watching them," Lopez, 41, said after Idol's Tuesday's Television Critics Association's press panel, in anticipation of having to eliminate 50 percent of the contestants during a taping later in the day.
"I feel really anxious about cutting half the kids today, I really do," the pop star added. "I'm really not looking forward to it. You want to pick the right ones and you want to see who's really going to make a great show, and at the same time, be great artists. But I feel like we have so many good ones that we're going to lose some good ones today. And that's what bothers me."
And like a lot people starting a new job, Lopez says she has work on her mind even when she's not at the "office." "I realize that when we went away before we did Hollywood Week, I was thinking about the kids so much before we went back for the [Las Vegas round]," Lopez said. "I was just like, 'Oh, my God, I hope that so-and-so does good, and I wish this one would just let go a little more ... ' You just get involved ... You hope that they do great."
But Lopez says her soft-heartedness doesn't mean she's already filling the shoes of former judges Paula Abdul and Ellen DeGeneres, who were both known for being encouraging and sympathetic to the show's singers.
"I can't really say I would be like any one judge," Lopez said. "I think that I have a combination of qualities that make me who I am and gives me a specific style of how I deal with the kids and how I dish out the truth – and also dish out the comfort. That's just part of who I am."
American Idol's 10th season premieres next Wednesday at 8:00 pm (ET) on FOX.