The weekly competition phase of American Idol has officially begun, and that means it's time for the sniping and back-biting to begin. Right?
We were in the audience for the taping of this week's competition, and here's what we can tell you about how the judges treat each other when the cameras are off and what the contestants really think of their fellow singers:
"There is no one here where I think, OMG she's going to take me down,"Jacob Lusk said. "Everyone's focus is, What am I going to do to stay here? There's no one here that sounds like us. We can't worry about going home. We have to worry about giving our best." Or as wild card Naima Adedapo told us: "Our biggest competition is ourselves."
While Lauren Alaina commented that she felt "awkward" about the question of her competition, Karen Rodriguez said she's already thinking about her career after the show. "You can be the winner, and in a couple years no one will remember you, or you can be seventh place and be in Dreamgirls and win an Oscar," said Karen, with such conviction we think she might be better emotionally equipped than others in terms of enduring a possible vote-off. "I feel like American Idol is pretty much a jump-start to everybody's career, and it's what we do after that really matters." (Check out Karen with the positive attitude!)
All sweet sentiments, yes? These kids obviously have genuine love and respect for each other right now, but we'll see what they have to say as the 13 dwindle down to the final four and then the ultimate television sing-off.
Other noteworthy tidbits from our seat in the CBS studios sound stage:
• Could you and 12 of your closest friends figure out how to stand in a circle facing each other and then turn 180 degrees and stand shoulder-to-shoulder? Well, when producers wanted the singers to arrange themselves like that, the contestants couldn't seem to grasp the concept. The simple task took several tries and verbal direction, until an exasperated stage manager had to physically position the baker's dozen in a circle—the physical comedy of which prompted laughter and applause from the audience.
• We found out that it's not hard to get Jennifer Lopez's perfect hair. Just invest in about three cans of hairspray and touch up every chance you get. It seems the mere action of breathing was enough to prompt groomers to pull out every powder, brush and potion in their kits in an effort to avoid even the slightest flaw in the judges' appearance. Did we forget to mention Steven Tyler had a black and red fan breezing his face when cameras weren't rolling? It may sound like a total diva move, but really, the guy can make anything look cool.
• It was a mild night for the judges, who just love on each other through the whole taping, even when the cameras aren't on. During the commercial breaks, Lopez was constantly leaning over to talk to Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson—that is, when the boys weren't getting up to shake hands with fans or getting the audience to cheer for the massive success of J.Lo's new single "On the Floor."
• Steven made a fan's dreams come true when he motioned to a female audience member whose sign caught his eye. His lips connected with her cheek, and off she went to cloud nine. Lucky girl.
• Fans didn't seem to miss the judges' table rancor of the Simon Cowell era—one audience member was even waving a 'Simon Who?' sign.
Do you think Jennifer, Randy and Steven need to ramp up judging drama? Do you think any of the contestants have direct competition they need to worry about? Who do you think will be the first to go?