American Idol‘s Harsh New Reality

American Idol‘s Harsh New Reality
Sam Jones/FOX

02/18/2009 AT 12:00 AM EST

Producers at American Idol are doing things a bit differently this year when it comes to whittling down the 36 contestants currently on the show.

On Wednesday night, the 12 singers who performed Tuesday will face season 8's first vote-based eliminations, kicking nine of them to the curb.

The male contestant with the most votes and the female contestant with the most votes will move on to the next round. One other contestant -- either male or female -- with the third most votes will join them in season 8's top 12.

With nine of the 12 performers getting cut each Wednesday for three weeks, the odds aren't great for contestants like Anoop Desai, Ricky Braddy and Tatiana Del Toro, who did well Tuesday, according to the judges, but not as well Alexis Grace and Danny Gokey.

On March 5, the judges will fill the last three spots in the top 12 during a wild card show, which will give previously eliminated contestants a final chance to move on.

That may be some consolation for those eliminated on Wednesday's show, but not much. Many of the most promising contestants -- Lil Rounds, Jorge Nunez, Jasmine Murray, Adam Lambert and others -- have yet to perform live on the Idol stage.

Once the top 12 are picked, things get back to normal, with one contestant getting the boot each week for 12 weeks. The season finale is tentatively scheduled for May 20.

On recent seasons, voters eliminated contestants who performed on the live shows four at a time until they reached the top 12.

Tell us: Do you like the new way of choosing Idol's top 12? Is there a better way?Sam Jones/FOX

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