"You get to watch a free concert right in front of you and also feel a part of the TV show. It's fun," contestant C.J. Harris, 23, tells PEOPLE of spending the performance shows watching from the blue couches in the stageside contestants' lounge.
In seasons past, the contestants have spent the performance shows backstage until it's their turn to grab the mic. But the season 13 singers are unanimously excited to watch their fellow competitors.
"It is fun to watch our fellow contestants because we know what their goals and fears are, so it is good to sit back and feel proud when they do well," says Majesty Rose, 21.
As for the small talk during commercials, the contestants keep it light.
"I usually try to not talk about the show and what is going on," Jena Irene, 17, says. "There are fans right next to you and they ask if they can take a picture, and security won't let us. I feel so bad. I really want to, but I can't."
There is one other thing they universally agree on: "I'll tell you what," says Harris. "That couch is comfortable. I could fall asleep there."