Hey kids, you want to be on "American Idol"?
This year's best route is a surprising one: Become a musical worship leader.
"It's a different kind of performing, but you get a lot of practice," Kris Allen said.
He's been doing it since he got to the University of Central Arkansas, about six years ago. He's also been on church missions to Mozambique, Morocco,Thailand, Burma, Spain and South Africa.
So far, half the six "Idol" finalists have been worship leaders: Michael Sarver did that in Texas, Danny Gokey in Milwaukee and Beloit, Wis.
(For an interview with last week's three, look back a few blogs. Also, you'll find the blogs I do after each "Idol" episode.)
And what about last season's trend? That was the year when five of the final 12 had Latino roots; this year there's one Latina, so far.
That's Allison Iraheta, whose parents are from El Salvador. "All my life, I've been singing both Spanish and English," she said.
And she's been getting ready for years, at her home in Los Angeles. "I've been wanting to audition since I was 9," she said. "I would put my face on the screen."
She wasn't eligible for "Idol" until this year, but she had a handy warm-up. At 14, she won "Quinceanaro," on the Telemundo network."It was amazing," she said.
By the time she finally reached "Idol," she had a seasoned way to perform a rock song. She also surrounds her little-girl face with hair that's dyed a blazing red. "I'll probably be one of those who is red for a couple months and then maybe purple."
The look is also a key part of Adam Lambert's persona. Even when he was doing Broadway-type shows, he said, he arrived in his goth-emo style. "All the kids (in the musicals) thought I was (strange). The stuff you see on 'Idol' is my daily street wear."
He first landed a community musical -- as Linus in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" -- at 10 in San Diego. Most recently, he understudied -- and got on stage occasionally -- as Fiyero, the love interest in the Los Angeles production of "Wicked."
That's his profession, he insisted, not his passion. "I finally get to sing the stuff I listen to."