The biggest worry for most American Idol contestants is whether the judges will let them continue to the next round.
Some singers on Idol-like programs abroad have a bigger worry: that religious extremists will kill them.
An appearance on a version of the show in conservative cultures in the Middle East, Near East and South Asia can mean anything from a public shaming to, in the most extreme cases, death threats so serious that a performer has to flee the country.
The harassment began after these programs began proliferating globally, following the successful debut of American Idol in 2002.
Typically, censure comes from religious authorities, or those who wrap their threats in religious language. And though male contestants have been the targets of those who claim these shows are blasphemous, or anti-Islamic, it is more often female singers who are condemned for immodest behavior.
• In Saudi Arabia, religious scholars condemned the show Star Academy as a crime against Islam and demanded repentance from the singer who won the competition.
• When Indian Idol held tryouts in Kashmir, the militant Islamist group al Madina Regiment warned that it would show no mercy to anyone who appeared on the vulgar show.
• In Afghanistan, a modestly dressed woman who placed third on Afghan Star received multiple death threats. Fearing for her life, she fled to Pakistan. A woman who placed eighth on the show also went into hiding after she made a music video without wearing a headscarf.
At least in the Islamic context, religion has less to do with the phenomenon than it may appear, said Shireen Hunter, a visiting scholar at Georgetown University, known for her work on reform movements within Islam.
It is cultural lines that these singers are crossing, not religious ones, Hunter said. Theres no Islamic text that prohibits women from singing in public, but the censure of these women is given a kind of religious gloss.
Its very difficult to convince ordinary people that these are not religious prohibitions but tradition, she said.
Harleen Singh, chairwoman of the South Asian Studies program at Brandeis University, takes a similar view of the backlash against female starlets.
Though the threats against Indian Idol singers came from Islamic radicals, the rejection of the idea that women have a place in public life is held by traditionalists from Muslims to Hindus to Sikhs to Christians, she said.
Its the intersection of religion and patriarchy, and not so much a religious mindset as a cultural, patriarchal mindset, Singh said.
Whether a woman succeeds or not on Indian Idol, she is given a moment of fame and a public voice, Singh continued. That is what threatens the fundamentalists a particular kind of public culture that gives women a voice.