Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, the teens facing off in the final competitive round of “American Idol” Tuesday night, obviously have a lot in common. They’re young Southerners, devout Christians and country music devotees. They’ve also both spent family time in tanning salons.

McCreery’s mother, Judy, owns At the Beach salon in Clayton, N.C., and in addition to his Norman Rockwell-esque gig as a grocery store bag boy, he’s also worked part-time in that more contemporary setting. In Rossville, Ga., Alaina and her mom attained sunless glows at Fort Lake Tanning, in the same mini-mall as the CiCi’s Pizza franchise where the 16-year-old famously worked.

This shared connection to one of the staple beauty routines of the South may seem trivial, but it provides a window into the environment that produced these homogenous rivals, which is proving likely to produce the most commercially viable winner in several seasons.

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