I'll catch a bit here and there, but for the most part, I prefer for the judges to parse the hundreds of thousands of wanna-bes into a manageable group before I'm ready to invest my time and energy in another season.
I also think those shows can give an unfair advantage to some contestants, in terms of showing personality, which can help a less talented performer immensely early on, when the field is still so large. Unfortunately, if you don't have a sob story, nutty gimmick, penchant for crying, insane fashion sense...or a combination therein, we probably are barely registering your existence at this point.
Of course, Idol has nothing to do with fairness.
Like all television, Idol is about ad dollars (and the future marketing of concert tickets, album sales and merchandising.)
Still, the advantage exists, for better or worse. For example - love them or hate them - I could pick Nick/Norman and Tatiana out of a line up, but, couldn't tell you if Casey was a boy or girl.
Fortunately, the internets can help me keep them straight...at least until I've seen them sing a few times and can give them each a duly appointed nickname.
Please note: I will attempt to link a "personal site/fan page" for each as I come across them...uh, if they have one.* This is yet another indicator - some of these kids need to prop up their rabid fan base asap! ...or at the very least get some friends/family who know how to throw up a quick site to start hustling that home town vote!
Some of the more "promotional" sites of folks who may already have a toe in the business have been scrubbed down to decrease any advantage. Ah, the digital age.
Here is your Top 36, with a glimpse into Group 1*, who'll be the first 12 up to bat on Tuesday night (2/17):
Anne Marie Boskovich*
Arianna Ayesha Afsar
Nick Mitchell aka Normund Gentle
Tatiana Del Toro*
At this point, I don't have a favorite...and won't have an opinion on Top 12 or who I think can go all the way, until I listen to all 36 sing at least once.
If you have a prediction or a favorite, put 'em in the comments!
*If you want to check out their Myspace pages, you're on your own. I view Myspace is a social network for teens, so I tend to steer clear of it.