Perhaps one of the most annoying critiques to cross an “American Idol” judge’s lips is the dreaded “you were much better in rehearsal.” That’s nice and all, but it’s the live show that counts, since that’s what America sees. Zap2it sat in on the “Idol” Season 13 rehearsal for Top 9’s “I’m With the Band” week. Here are our major takeaways from the two-hour affair.
– The final dress rehearsal, held around five hours before the show goes live, is pretty much an exact run-through of what you’ll see later in the evening. The contestants were, for the most part, wearing whatever they wore during their performances. Ryan Seacrest, in jeans and a button-down, did abbreviated versions of each of his hosting standups, and the contestants each got one final run-through of their song with the band and the staging. The only difference was the lighting — the studio remained brightly lit the whole time.
– The judges can watch (or not). During Top 9 week, Keith Urban sat in his seat and watched each singer’s dress rehearsal run-through alongside two judges’ stand-ins. When it came time for the judging portion, the stand-ins would say nonsensical phrases about the weather, or, a personal favorite: “I had a great cup of chili today.”
– The audience isn’t there, but the studio isn’t empty. In addition to various production people — for example, vocal coaches Dorian Holley and Michael Orland adorably coaching Majesty Rose through her tambourine moves, “Toddlers & Tiaras” style — there are also contest winners, executive guests, charity benefactors and sponsor guests who sit in on rehearsal.
– Although the studio is mostly empty, the contestants bring their A-game. Well, at least their B-game. They don’t want to waste their best moves on an empty studio, but they have to bring enough energy to their performance to feel confident that they can come through when it counts. They all did an admirable job in rehearsal, but some perked up immensely once they were able to feed off the energy of the live show’s crowd. For example, Caleb Johnson was incredible during his rehearsal, but explosive during the live show. The vocals were impeccable both times, but something about the energy of the audience really brought out his best.
– Not many major changes will be made before the live show. At this point, the kids have (hopefully) perfected their vocals and moves for each performance, and it’s kind of too late to make any major changes anyway. The rehearsal performances pretty much looked and sounded exactly like they did when the show went live.