Your Pocket Guide to the “Idol” Premiere

Tonight's premiere kicks off the ratings giant's eighth season with auditions in Phoenix. Here's what you need to know before the show.

  1. The new judge, Kara DioGuardi, loves everybody -- but apparently not in a "your specialness is the light that comes through in your voice, and you are shining that light" kind of way like some other female judges we could mention.
  2. Speaking of the new judge, all the math whizzes have pointed out that with a foursome, there's potential for dead-heat ties. So how to resolve that? Apparently, in the case of ties, Simon gets the final call.
  3. The producers are tightening control on the music contestants sing: They'll now only be able to choose songs that have charted in the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 since 1958.
  4. Although producers have denied it in recent days, word is audition weeks will spend less time on the really bad singers, and more on genuine talent -- likely due to the sad story about a would-be contestant from season five (whose embarrassing audition was one of the most lingered-on trainwrecks the show's had) was found dead outside Paula Abdul's house in the fall.
  5. The show held auditions in Puerto Rico for the first time -- but exec producer Ken Warwick says the gambit to pump up the show's "Latin flavor" was a big disappointment on the talent front.
  6. Early ones to watch include Lil Rounds, the third singer in this preview for the premiere.
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