02:38 AM EDT 07/24/2014

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American Idol's Latest Twist: Viewers Choose the Final Top 30 Singer | Drake, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez

American Idol

American Idol's Latest Twist: Viewers Choose the Final Top 30 Singer

Originally posted 02/14/2014 07:40AM

The final contestants were added to American Idol's Top 30 Thursday night … almost.

In a surprise twist, the judges couldn't decide which singer would round out the Top 15 Boys and, for the first time, are leaving it up to America to choose.

And it all came down to the odd couple: country singer Ben Briley, 24, who sang "Stars" for his final solo performance, and silky voiced Neco Starr, 22, who sang "Halo" by Beyoncé despite battling a cold.

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American Idol's Top 30 Includes the Show's First Openly Gay Contestant

American Idol

American Idol's Top 30 Includes the Show's First Openly Gay Contestant

Originally posted 02/13/2014 07:00AM

After thousands of auditions, hundreds of golden tickets and weeks of performances, there was a first on Wednesday's American Idol: An openly gay contestant made the Top 30.

M.K. Nobilette, 20, broke that barrier, saying, "I'm very obviously gay, and there are always gonna be people in America … who will definitely hate me, but I think that in the last two years there have been a lot of things that have really changed that."

"The world is changing," said Jennifer Lopez, "and we think you could be an American Idol."

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Credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX
American Idol's Group Round Brings the Mama Drama

American Idol

American Idol's Group Round Brings the Mama Drama

Originally posted 02/07/2014 07:15AM

The group round of American Idol's Hollywood Week is always filled with drama, and this year was no exception: Harry Connick Jr. quit the competition.

As a joke, of course.

"I am dropping out of the judges' panel," Connick said, after the surprising exit of Tiquila Wilson, who quit without warning to follow her dreams of becoming a gospel artist.

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Credit: Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP
American Idol: An Air Force Singer and 'Chipmunk' Country Crooner Soar

American Idol

American Idol: An Air Force Singer and 'Chipmunk' Country Crooner Soar

Originally posted 01/31/2014 07:45AM

The final tickets to Hollywood were handed out on Thursday's American Idol, and the last singer to book a seat on the plane reminded Harry Connick Jr. of … Barbara Mandrell?

Referring to the popular '70s and '80s country singer and TV star, Connick told Tessa Kate, a 25-year-old from Branson, Mo., that she had the same timeless "vibe."

Kate sang "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash and although Jennifer Lopez said the guitar-playing performer "almost went into chipmunk territory" with her high-pitched notes, Keith Urban said, "You've got your own lane."

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Credit: Michael Becker/FOX (2)
American Idol: Kids Rule the Night

American Idol

American Idol: Kids Rule the Night

Originally posted 01/24/2014 08:05AM

If the Atlanta auditions on Thursday night's American Idol are any indication, "Hotlanta" might soon be known as "Totlanta."

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Credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX
American Idol: Harry Connick Jr.'s Hilariously Bad Audition

American Idol

American Idol: Harry Connick Jr.'s Hilariously Bad Audition

Originally posted 01/23/2014 06:45AM

There have been a lot of awful auditions over the past 13 seasons of American Idol, but there was one so bad Wednesday night that it might even top William Hung's infamous performance.

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American Idol: The Son of Season 1's Nikki McKibbin Gets a Ticket to Hollywood

American Idol

American Idol: The Son of Season One's Nikki McKibbin Gets a Ticket to Hollywood

Originally posted 01/17/2014 09:30AM

The second night of American Idol featured a few familiar faces and a whole lot of characters.

For the first time, a second-generation Idol hopeful earned a golden ticket: 15-year-old Tristen Langley – the son of season one's rocker girl Nikki McKibbin, who finished third behind Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini – sang a cool version of Sublime's "Santeria" to earn his way to Hollywood.

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American Idol: Harry Connick Jr. and Guitar-Playing Singers Steal the Show | Harry Connick Jr.

American Idol

UpdatePosted 01/16/2014 05:00AM

American Idol: Harry Connick Jr. and Guitar-Playing Singers Steal the Show

Originally posted 01/16/2014 06:15AM



If the season 13 premiere of American Idol is any indication, a few things are already clear: The unlucky judge juju is gone, guitar-playing singers will rule Hollywood, and America is likely to be wild about Harry Connick Jr.

With all eyes on the judging panel after last year's Mariah Carey-Nicki Minaj diva drama, returning judge Keith Urban joined Jennifer Lopez, who's back after a transformative year away, and the duo not only oozed likeability and rapport but their star power wowed most contestants.

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Credit: Julia Russell
PHOTO: Clay Aiken Sports Long Hair in Vibrant Technicolor Dreamcoat

Clay Aiken Sports Long Hair in Vibrant Technicolor Dreamcoat Photo

Originally posted 08/06/2013 12:05PM

Clay Aiken is letting his colors show.

The former American Idol finalist, 34, could be mistaken for a walking rainbow in a photo released by the Ogunquit Playhouse, a local theater in Maine. The vibrant shot promotes Aiken's lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat musical.

With wavy hair past his shoulders, a wide-eyed Aiken flashes a grin in the image.

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Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX
American Idol's Top 3 Dish on Their Inspiring Visits Home

American Idol

American Idol's Top 3 Visit Home Before Finale

Originally posted 05/06/2013 11:00AM

Familiar roads, fried chicken and plenty of tears – that's what awaited American Idol's final three contestants when they ventured back to their hometowns as newly-minted stars.

On Saturday, Angie Miller, Kree Harrison and Candice Glover returned to Massachusetts, Texas and South Carolina, respectively.

Here's what they had to tell PEOPLE about their emotional visits:

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