American Idol has always embraced diversity, but M.K. Nobilette is breaking barriers as the singing competition's first openly gay contestant. And on balance, she is pleased with the public's reaction.
It may have been ladies night Tuesday on American Idol, but the boys stole the spotlight Wednesday.
Once again, the judges only called to the stage the 10 singers who impressed them most, eliminating the remaining five.
Rocker Caleb Johnson, 22, kicked things off and stayed true to form with "Stay With Me," a "real rock star" performance according to Jennifer Lopez, who added, "It's your time."
There were new twists, familiar faces and loads of drama on American Idol Tuesday night, as the ladies kicked off the first of the live performance shows.
The new twists? In what was dubbed Rush Week, the judges reviewed tapes of the Top 15 Girls and picked the 10 that impressed them the most to perform, surprising the ladies one at a time.
The familiar faces? Randy Jackson, the "Dogfather" of Idol, was back to mentor the contestants, leading a sort of Rush Week "wisdom workshop" for the pledges, which included vocal coaching from former Idol contestants Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry, and guidance from stylists, a movement coach, and a pair of spiritual advisers.
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.
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."
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.
American Idol's Hollywood Week featured a big twist this year – after touching down in L.A., all of the contestants were gathered in a airport hangar, where either their talent soared or they flew home.
A total of 52 singers, who the judges were on the fence about, were asked to sing a song of their choice to survive.
Following their impromptu performances, they were divided into groups and asked to get on one of two buses without knowing their final destination: A Hollywood hotel or the departure lounge. In the end 20 of those singers made it through – but the drama was just beginning.
In case you forgot, she's still Jenny from the block.
Jennifer Lopez released a new music video on Thursday for her "I'm-still-a-straight-up-Bronxgal" single "Same Girl."
The American Idol judge went back to her roots, taking a camera crew back to her old neighborhood, the Bronx.
The video shows the 44-year-old walking the N.Y.C. streets and is reminiscent of her 2002 "Jenny From the Block" video (minus her then-beau Ben Affleck kissing her bikini-clad tush).