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American Idols Live 

When: Wed., July 27, 7 p.m. 2011
Price: $45-65

After 10 seasons, American Idol has documented the most common stories in America, as well as some of the country's most pressing problems, even as it set out to entertain. Consider, of course, the disparity between Season 2's runner-up, Clay Aiken, and Season 8's runner-up, Adam Lambert—the closeted Aiken hid his homosexuality to play the part of a country boy too polite, as he told Rolling Stone, to cuss, while the much more flamboyant Lambert teased the same magazine about his own sexuality. Despite Ryan Seacrest's stationary grin, the show has dealt with issues of rape and teenage pregnancy, mental handicap and xenophobia. Musically, though, American Idol has cloaked its sometimes provocative themes and characters behind a stock of songs that's too standard to be interesting or innovative. —Grayson Currin

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