American Idol: 6 Things To Know About Season 13

“American Idol” bashing seems to have become a recreational sport among reality TV viewers ever since the show’s disastrous season last year. For us loyal viewers though (who love the show for the contestants and not just the judges), we still plan on checking out Season 13.

With Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban taking their seats for Wednesday’s season premiere, here are six things “Idol” purists need to know about what they can expect to see in Season 13:

Guitars, Guitars & More Guitars:
Let’s refresh our memories. Five seasons in a row, a cute guy with a guitar won the show… David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee Dewyze, Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips. Then last season, “magically” there were no guitar-playing cuties to be found. Thus, we finally got a girl winning the show. This year, those guitars are back with a vengeance and it’s not just for singer/songwriters. Lots of kids who seem very pop music focused know how to play guitars and bring them along to the auditions. I bet the money earned from guitar lessons has quadrupled in the last year.

WATCH: Keith Urban & Harry Connick Jr. Discuss Their ‘Lomance’

Hollywood Or Home:
Just because your hear those five magic words this season, “You are going to Hollywood!” – well don’t get too excited. A new addition this year is the “Hollywood or Home” round. Contestants who receive the golden ticket will have to re-audition in front of the judges before they head to Los Angeles. If they don’t impress again, then it’s adios amigos.

Remember This Name – Marielle Sellers:
This year’s season opener starts very differently - with the cameras following one contestant from the moment the show opens as she heads into her audition, heart beating nerves on display. Jennifer Lopez pegs it on the head when she calls her a cross between Rihanna and Miley Cyrus. She can sing, she plays the guitar and completely wows the judges. Harry Connick Jr. tells her, “You are going to be a nightmare for the other contestants.” Whoa is he right! If I were the other contestants, I would be supremely annoyed over her quality airtime and think it’s a little unfair advantage. She is someone you won’t forget.

WATCH: Jennifer Lopez ‘Surprised’ To Be Back On ‘Idol’

Watch Out For ‘Harsh Harry’:
He looks innocent enough and all but somehow the guy who with the great sarcastic sense of humor got a bad rap in the auditions. Harry Connick Jr.’s nickname became “Harsh Harry,” not because he was mean like Simon Cowell, but because he knows music so well he was hypercritical of every little note. Also, poor Harry suffers from “I don’t know who he is disease.” In a funny bit during night one, you will see just how many of the young contestants don’t quite know that “other guy” on the judges’ panel.

Bye Bye Bad Singers:
It used to be that producers would put through singers who clearly could not sing a note just so the judges could make fun of them. Sometimes it was funny. Sometimes it was downright insulting. This year’s judging panel is way more gentle. Gone are the eye rolls and snickers when someone can’t sing. The judges try to be honest and critical but without being cruel. On the subject, Harry told Access Hollywood, “Some people think it’s fun to break up the monotony and bring in somebody who’s really funny or has an interesting personality trait that makes for great television, and I get it. Once in a while I think that’s great, but basically there haven’t been a lot of people that really shouldn’t have been there.”

Backstories Take A Backseat:
Remember Kellie Pickler the roller skating waitress or Carrie Underwood down on the farm? This season, we will see much less of the backstories for each of the contestants. Why? Well Keith Urban claims it’s so they can put the focus more on their talent. “It’s not about the backstories having to mask things. It’s about really good singers, really good talent, really good artistry that just needs time to grow and involve and a bit of guidance,” he said.

I don’t agree. The magic of the show has always been seeing a nobody become a somebody. Backstories are the way we connect with the contestants and it’s something that should be left in. “American Idol” is not just a talent show, it’s about personality and heart. Do you agree? Hit me up on twitter and let me know @laurasaltman

“American Idol” Season 13 premieres Wednesday night at 8 PM ET/PT on Fox.

-- Laura Saltman

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