If you have ever watched the show you have no doubt at some point wondered exactly what could be so very difficult about competing on the show. After all, don’t the contestants simply walk out onto a stage, sing a short song and then listen to what the judges have to say? This is all that the audience sees, but in reality the show is about so much more, and learning exactly what the show is really about is critical to making absolutely certain that someone can go as far as possible, instead of just failing to make it on through.
The first surprise waiting for contestants is the lack of sleep that they are able to get during Hollywood week. Of course, it is all over the episodes that contestants are up until the wee hours of the morning practicing and many even lose their voices during Hollywood week but this tends to hit most like a ton of bricks when they are actually arriving in Hollywood and learn how this feels for themselves. Trying to sing your very best when you are exhausted and your voice has been going for hours is not easy and with many contestants underestimating just how difficult it is to do, it can seem a huge shock once they actually arrive.
Another surprise waiting is the reality that most contestants are not given free range of the songs they select during the show. Typically, contestants are provided with a list of songs that they may use. How extensive the list is tends to vary, but contestants are not permitted to choose a song that is outside of this list due to copyright issues. By providing contestants with a list of songs that have been approved the show is able to work directly with artists to provide appropriate reimbursement for using their songs and also ensure that there are no complications with lyrics being changed at a later point.
For many contestants it is a surprise to discover that once they reach a certain point they are not permitted to accept any recording contracts immediately. Typically, the show locks up all of the contestants in the Top 30 with contracts that bar them from signing with a recording company until at least three months after the season finale airs on television. This is a huge disappointment for many contestants, but for others it is a welcome rest that they enjoy to gather their thoughts and start looking around for all of their options before jumping.
Regardless the biggest fact that is little known is that often the start of American Idol will usually not manage to predict the real winner. Everyone loves to sit around talking about who they think will actually win, but in reality who people usually anticipate to win and who actually wins varies substantially. The only year in which there has been a very obvious winner was in Season four with Carrie Underwood. Simon Cowell predicted her win early on in the show was completely accurate in his prediction for her. Other contestants have risen above the crowd at different times and the contest has been a very tight draw, but every year someone rises above the rest and walks away with the title of American Idol to pursue their musical career with a great start in the business.