While returning judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. are getting chummier as the auditions go on, the contestants are more cutthroat than ever, which should make for some fierce rivalries.
"I'm going to do whatever it takes to make my goal, to fulfill my dream," said Idol hopeful Quentin Alexander. "If it means stepping on my best friend's toes, I love you, best friend, but your toes are going to get stomped."
Fortunately for Quentin's best friend, it may not come to that.
"We get more excited when the contestants are amazing," J.Lo told ET. "Our job is to put the best contestants in front of America. We feel we are going to make an amazing show."
The show is also shaking things up a bit with the American Idol True Believer reward. After a winner is decided on next season, Idol will give $50,000 to one of the "true believers" (e.g. friend, family member, fan) who encouraged the winning singer to audition.
And Lance got a quick tip from Keith.
"Playing live is what it's about," Keith told ET. "Maybe now more than ever, it's about being able to play live as well."
American Idol returns to Fox on Jan. 7.