American Idol 9: The Top 24 is BACK!!!

Just received a press release from Fox announcing the start of American Idol Season 9. And, with the future of Idol up in the air, there’s a tiny bit of good news. Ellen Degeneres and Mike Darnell kinda spilled the beans in September, but it’s official now…

The Top 24 Semi-final format is back!!!

The ‘Hollywood Round’  episodes will air Tuesday, Feb. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT); Wednesday, Feb. 10 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT); and Tuesday, Feb. 16 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT). On Wednesday, Feb. 17 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), dreams come true for 24 contestants, as Simon, Randy, Kara and Ellen announce the Top 12 male and Top 12 female semifinalists.

It will then be up to America to decide who moves forward in the competition. The first performance show featuring the Top 12 female semifinalists will air Tuesday, Feb. 23 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). The following night, Wednesday, Feb. 24 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), the Top 12 male semifinalists will perform. The results show revealing America’s first vote of the season will air Thursday, Feb. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), when the two male and two female contestants with the fewest votes will be sent home.

Time to dance a HAPPY DANCE!

Re-introducing the Top 36 semi-final format in Season 8, with contestants advancing rather than being eliminated, was a HUGE mistake. Going back to the old format meant enduring 12 contestants a week, most of whom were cannon fodder–destined to be eliminated. Only 3 contestants advanced to the finals each week, and except for those who were brought back for the wild card, we didn’t see the kids who made the Top 12 again until the finals began. It made it really hard to connect to the contestants.

The Top 24 format means fewer contestants and more performances in the semis. But most importantly, we see the contestants who will eventually make the Top 12 week after week. By the time the finals begin, we know who these kids are. I also hope the producers bring out the live band for the semis and allow the kids to play instruments. Stupid move last year to have kids singing to what appeared to be backing tracks without instruments.

I’ll bet they keep the save, because that was some pretty damn good TV drama right there. Oh, and the return of the Top 24 means the return of gender parity. Which is ok with me. TPTB probably want a girl to win this year…

ETA: Taking a peek at the 2010 calender, and we’ve got 4 weeks of Auditions, 2 weeks of Hollywood, 3 weeks of semis, and if the competition ends with a Top 2 as it typically does, the show will run 20 weeks instead of the usual 19.

After the jump, check out the schedule, though to the start of the Top 12.

Tuesday, Jan. 12 (8:00-10:00 PM) Season Premiere, Part 1 Boston Auditions Episode
Wednesday, Jan. 13 (8:00-9:15 PM) Season Premiere, Part 2 Atlanta Auditions Episode
Tuesday, Jan. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM) Chicago Auditions Episode
Wednesday, Jan. 20 (8:00-9:00 PM) Orlando Auditions Episode
Tuesday, Jan. 26 (8:00-9:00 PM) Dallas Auditions Episode
Wednesday, Jan. 27 (9:00-10:00 PM) Los Angeles Auditions Episode
Tuesday, Feb. 2 (8:00-9:00 PM) Denver Auditions Episode
Wednesday, Feb. 3 (9:00-10:00 PM) ‘The Road to Hollywood’  Auditions Episode
Tuesday, Feb. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 1
Wednesday, Feb. 10 (9:00-10:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 2
Tuesday, Feb. 16 (8:00-9:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 3
Wednesday, Feb. 17 (9:00-10:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 4 Top 24 Semifinalists Announced
Tuesday, Feb. 23 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 12 Female Semifinalists Perform
Wednesday, Feb. 24 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 12 Male Semifinalists Perform
Thursday, Feb. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM) First Results Show (ET live/PT tape-delayed) Two Male and Two Female Contestants Eliminated
Tuesday, March 2 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 10 Female Semifinalists Perform
Wednesday, March 3 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 10 Male Semifinalists Perform
Thursday, March 4 (8:00-9:00 PM) Results Show (ET live/PT tape-delayed) Two Male and Two Female Contestants Eliminated
Tuesday, March 9 (8:00-9:00 PM) Top 8 Female Semifinalists Perform
Wednesday, March 10 (9:00-10:00 PM) Top 8 Male Semifinalists Perform
Thursday, March 11 (8:00-9:00 PM) Results Show (ET live/PT tape-delayed) Two Male and Two Female Contestants Eliminated; Finalists Revealed
Tuesday, March 16 (8:00-10:00 PM) Finalists Perform (ET live/PT tape-delayed)
Wednesday, March 17 (9:00-10:00 PM) Results Show (ET live/PT tape-delayed) One Contestant Eliminated

About mj santilli 29780 Articles
Founder and editor of mjsbigblog.com, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!