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On the scene: A preview glimpse of 'American Idol' at Hollywood Week

The world will have to wait until American Idol premieres on Jan. 15 to know who got the golden tickets, but for the contestants on Idol‘s upcoming 13th season, this week was Hollywood Week and the competition is just starting to get intense. EW was on the scene for the first day of the second stage of FOX’s singing competition.

Contestants had to perform in front of the judges for the first time since their original auditions in their home towns to get to the next round in Hollywood Week: Groups. With new judge Harry Connick Jr. joining Keith Urban and returning judge Jennifer Lopez on the panel, this season already has a warmer different vibe than the last one — better known as Mariah vs. Nicki. Gone are the dueling divas and the new threesome seem to be getting along very well, joking and laughing together throughout the day.

As for the competition itself, each contestant had to sing a song of their choice a cappella on stage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, home of the Academy Awards, in front of the judges, their fellow competitors, and family and friends. Each contestant is allowed to bring two people to cheer them on sitting up in the front mezzanine. When it was the contestant’s turn to sing, their family moved to the edge of the balcony so they could see them. The family and friends are also there to console and take eliminated contestants home right away. And I mean right away — their luggage is waiting (organized alphabetically) in the lobby of the theater.

Before singing, each contestant introduced him or herself by sharing their name, age, and why they believe they are the next American Idol. Some favorite introductions we overheard:
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