We've entered the final stretch of the preliminary phase of "American Idol" season nine. Soon, viewers will finally get a say in the competition's outcome.
In a statement issued Monday, Fox executives announced that some of the top 24 contestants will be revealed during Tuesday's episode of "American Idol," which airs 8-10 p.m. and features the final individual performances in Hollywood. Wednesday's show, which airs 9-10 p.m., is when the remaining contestants learn whether they've advanced to the semifinals.
Let's hope "Idol" keeps its format for recapping the top 24. You know the drill: The semifinalists demonstrate cheesy dance moves against a blue "American Idol" backdrop. Somebody will bust out the robot. Somebody will showcase a booty pop. And if we're really lucky, one guy will throw his jacket on the floor.
We don't know which contestants make up the top 24 -- although certain spoiler blogs have a pretty good track record for accuracy -- but some trends have already dominated the "Idol" class of 2010. A sampling:
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Girl power.From this season's onset, many of the show's insiders have pushed for a female "Idol." In a recent conference call with reporters, judge Kara DioGuardi said, "I would love to see a girl win." She added, "I do think it's a lot easier to break women than men, actually, in terms of their records once the show is done." Maybe that's why certain male singers -- say, Chris Golightly with his "Idol"-friendly orphan back story -- have taken a back seat to singers like Didi Benami and Janell Wheeler when it comes to air time so far this season.
Kris Allen, Adam Lambert influenceApparently, surviving Hollywood now depends on your ability to make an acoustic version of a pop song. Andrew Garcia played guitar to Paula Abdul's "Straight Up." Janell Wheeler went all acoustic on Estelle's "American Boy." It's clear Kris Allen and Adam Lambert -- guys with a passion for making songs their own -- have influenced this season's crop of contenders. Originality on "Idol" has moved to a whole new level, and performances are more exciting because of that.
Bring on the sob.Didi Benami sings to honor a best friend who passed away. Andrew Garcia is a dad whose own parents were involved in gangs. Katie Stevens takes care of her grandma, who has Alzheimer's. It seems like almost every buzzed-about singer this year has an elaborate back story. Be careful, singers: Too much sob footage can give you the Danny Gokey effect.
Where's the weird?Sure, we have Mary Powers, the rocker mom whose edge surfaced during Hollywood's group round. But seriously: Where's the "is this real?" vibe that dominated so many of last year's early contenders? I'm talking to you, emotionally volatile Tatiana Del Toro. And let's not forget season eight's Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle, the sparkly shirt-clad guy who briefly seemed to have a genuine shot at making the top 12. Make no mistake: Season nine's singers are polished, but let's hope professionalism doesn't come at the expense of personality.
Learn more about the show by visiting our "Idol" blog, updated "live" throughout every episode.