With all the controversy surrounding the supposed feud between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, you would think we’d be in the middle of the season already. But no. Season 12 hasn’t even started yet. To give a preview of what to expect in the weeks and months to come, FOX has released the schedule for the season leading up to Top 10 week.

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Wednesday, January 16: New York Auditions (8-10pm)
Thursday, January 17: Chicago Auditions (8-10pm)
Wednesday, January 23: Auditions (8-10pm)
Thursday, January 24: Auditions (8-9pm)
Wednesday, January 30: Auditions (8-10pm)
Thursday, January 31: Auditions (8-9pm)

Audition Stops: Charlotte, Chicago, Long Beach, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, San Antonio

Hollywood Week

Wednesday, February 6: Hollywood Week, Part 1 (8-10pm)
Thursday, February 7: Hollywood Week, Part 2 (8-9pm)
Wednesday, February 13: Hollywood Week, Part 3 (8-10pm)
Thursday, February 14: Hollywood Week, Part 4 — Top 40 Announced (8-9pm)

Once Hollywood Week is over, 20 men and 20 women will be left in the competition and head to Las Vegas.

Semifinals: Las Vegas

Wednesday, February 20: 10 Male Singers Perform (8-10pm)
Thursday, February 21: 10 Female Singers Perform (8-10pm)
Wednesday, February 27: 10 More Male Singers Perform (8-10pm)
Thursday, February 28: 10 More Female Singers Perform (8-10pm)

It should come as no surprise that Idol is having a Las Vegas round; the show has added this round in recent years. But this time, they’re tweaking the format a little: the men and women will be split up, with only the guys performing on certain days and only the girls on the other days. I’m not sure what the point of doing that is — with how long each episode is scheduled for, we’ll probably end up seeing each performance in their entirety. But once the judges finish their eliminations here, half will be gone and only 20 will perform live for America.

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Semifinals: Live (Voting Begins)

Tuesday, March 5: Top 10 Male Semifinalists Perform (8-10pm)
Wednesday, March 6: Top 10 Female Semifinalists Perform (8-10pm)
Thursday, March 7: Results Show — Top 10 Finalists Announced (8pm)

America will now vote for their favorite singers. It’ll be a brutal results show, with yet again half leaving the competition by the end of the week. The main different for the semifinals this year is that instead of broadcasting live from Los Angeles, the show will still be in Vegas. (The results show, however, is in L.A.)

Top 10:

Wednesday, March 13: Top 10 Perform (8-10pm)
Thursday, March 14: Results Show (8-9pm)

Idol normally has a Top 12 or Top 13. But here’s yet another format change for season 12: this year, we’ll be going back to a Top 10 that the show hasn’t seen since season 1. (Does that mean we’ll have another Kelly Clarkson in our midst?) It seems odd that the Top 10 will begin this early in the season; if one contestant leaves each week, that means the finale will air May 8-9, which is two weeks earlier than usual. It’s unlikely FOX would conclude their biggest show only a third of the way into sweeps, so maybe there’s a wildcard round or some other twist we don’t know about yet.

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(Image courtesy of FOX)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.