“Idol” questions

I’ve been watching “American Idol” faithfully since its second season, but, for whatever reason, I haven’t really seriously questioned it until this year.

I did a little bit in 2006, when I covered the show’s Memphis audition rounds. It definitely opened my naive little eyes as to how the show works and its behind-the-black-drape goings-on.

I interviewed all of the show’s judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, as well as host Ryan Seacrest, but it was more like a quick, press conference-y type of event and I didn’t get the chance to really ask them a lot of in-depth questions.

Besides, the questions I have now are mostly about the actual competition.

I really have no way of getting these questions answered, so if you’re a random past “Idol” contestant, have some kind of inside knowledge or if you just want to take a guess, feel free to answer…

  • How much time do the contestants have to rehearse each week? Do they each get the same amount of time to rehearse, either by themselves, with that week’s mentor or with the band? Can someone request extra time?
  • Can the contestants watch each other’s rehearsals?
  • Do the contestants really choose their own songs? Of course we all know some of the worst song choices, but some of them are a little too brilliant…
  • And what about the arrangements? Does the band have any say at all in that?
  • Can a contestant request extra lights or any vocal effects? It seems like this year, almost every song Adam Lambert sings has some kind of echo effect on his vocals. Is that his doing or do the producers handle that? It also seems that Adam’s lights and overall stage presence is flashier – does he control that or does a producer?
  • Can the contestants seek out the judges for advice?
  • Who chooses a contestants’ look/style/clothes?
  • How long in advance do the contestants know about each week’s theme?
  • What is a typical contestant’s schedule like?