Here's your refresher course...
Stage 1- Auditions (Sept. 12-27): This is where we get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly from around the country to see who can handle themselves on a big stage, under a hot spotlight, and with the glaring eyes of four formidable judges: Reigning champ Simon Cowell, returning judge L.A. Reid, and newbies to the judges' table, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. Thousands tried out this spring in Austin, TX, Kansas City, MO, San Francisco, Providence, RI, and Greensboro, NC, and online but only a small percentage will make it through to the next round.
Stage 2 - Boot Camp (Oct. 3-10): Now, Boot Camp is where we get to put our hopefuls under a true pressure-cooker and let the drama unfold, as those who made it through the first auditions are now put to the test by learning choreography and working with vocal coaches. Those who pass this meltdown test are assigned to one of the four judges and move onto a more intimate setting to show off their talents - the Judges' Houses!
Stage 3 - Judges' Homes (Oct. 11-17): There's got to be nothing more frightening than to stand in front of your mentor at his or her house and sing a cappella just feet away from their judgey little faces, but that's exactly what goes down in Stage 3 when the select few graduate from Boot Camp to the Judges' Houses section of the show. It's a nail-biter for sure!
Stage 4 - The Live Show (Nov. 1-Dec. 13): Voting, guest appearances, and mentoring! Oh my! The real magic happens here. This is where our rising stars turn into superstars as they are coached on everything from song selection to style to performance by their assigned judge and set out to deliver full-blown productions of song, sight, and sizzle. The best part: You can start voting! Our live show hopefuls will then get whittled down to semi-finalists and then to finalists until a winner is announced at the grand finale on Dec. 20. Oh yeah, and we usually have a few cool special guests pop up as well.
Okay, so that's how it went down last season. But is that exactly how it's going down this season? Hmmm... Knowing the magical TV mind of Simon Cowell, anything is possible. You'll just have to tune in to see!
THE X FACTOR returns to FOX on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 8/7c. Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@thexfactorusa) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/thexfactorusa), and air all your opinions!