A whole heck of a lot, explain Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz in today's Newark Star-Ledger, and they're especially right on this point:
The blatant agenda: The winner of this year's contest will either be an R&B diva or a teen pop starlet. How do we know this? 1) More than half of the finalists fit one category or the other. 2) The producers arranged for the aforementioned divas and starlets to perform near the start or finish of each episode (the two spots most likely to affect voters); and 3) Because the judges have practically kissed the feet of the singers in those two categories.
Lisa Leuschner, who missed the cut in group two and didn't even get to sing in the wild card round, was in trouble the minute the judges compared her to original "Idol" champ Kelly Clarkson. Why? Because the "Idol" producers already have a Kelly Clarkson and don't need another.
Also, why did Fox have to schedule a two-hour show tonight and go up against Shandi's skankdown? Don't they understand that we only own one TiVo?