After criss-crossing the country during hometown auditions, American Idol has arrived in Tinseltown for the first rounds of Hollywood Week. And for many contestants, that means they will be singing a total of one time before promptly being sent back home. It’s brutal, but hey, that’s show biz.
A total of 212 contestants arrive from their respective flights into Los Angeles International Airport before they are whisked away to a surprise audition. They think they’re headed to their hotel for some rest, but little do they know, they’re literally going to be singing for their supper. And for many of them, this means an in-flight meal on the way back home. I’m not even kidding.
In an airplane hangar at an undisclosed location (I’m guessing Santa Monica), judges Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban break the news to the nervous contestants, most of whom have just arrived in Los Angeles a few hours prior. Johnny Newcomb is the first victim. He sings “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People. This is followed by more young ones with guitars. At this point, I would like to formally request that any quirky, acoustic versions of the Britney Spears song “Toxic” be banned from any future Idol auditions.
In the midst of all this, we are treated to a terrible version of Rihanna‘s “Only Girl in the World.” More contestants are betrayed by their nerves, screeching out songs that are barely recognizable. Adam Roth sits at a keyboard for his version of “Radioactive.” Keith and Harry are so thrown off by his bad piano playing they had trouble actually focusing on the singing.
Second generation Idol contestant Tristen Langley performs and is followed by Morgan Deplitch singing a painful version of Sarah Barreilles‘ “Brave.” Her kooky straw fedora hat isn’t helping her cause. These poor contestants are all so clearly exhausted. These are some of the worst auditions we’ve seen so far. This prompts speeches from Harry and Keith for the contestants to step up their game and to basically stop sucking so badly. It’s truly inspirational. After this, Eric Wood follows the judges’ advice to not be so darn terrible and takes to the mic for a serviceable version of the Black Crowes‘ “She Talks to Angels.”
Fifty contestants in, deranged former beauty queen Khristian D’avis has her turn to perform. It’s odd, much like her original audition that inexplicably landed her in Hollywood. Basically, all the hopefuls who performed were those the judges were not sure about. The remaining contestants are dismissed, while the panel deliberates. Those left in the hangar are split into two groups, one heading back to the airport and the other to a hotel to stay. It’s a serious mindfuck moment as the people heading home find out which bus they’re on when they see the colored lights of the LAX airport. Yikes. Meanwhile, the other bus erupts into cheers when they find out they’re staying in Hollywood.
The next morning, the contestants wake up bright and early for a new round of auditions. Majesty Rose York is sweet and croons “1234″ from Feist. She and the rest of the singers singled out in her group make it through. Will Spencer Lloyd’s handsomeness be enough to pull him through? He croons “Say Something” while playing the keyboard. Jennifer looks ready to say something sexy to him. In fact, all three judges are pro-Spencer and it would appear the panel is not yet giving up on him.
Austin Wolfe sings Adele‘s “Take It All.” Selena Morena cracks under the pressure but at least manages to finish her song. Austin makes it through while Selena joins her twin sister on their journey back home. Sam Woolf from Boston is back, as is Keri Lynn Roche, with her nose ring and guitar. Detroit’s Ayla Stackhouse and country boy, C.J. Harris, return to the stage. Of the four, only Ayla is sent back home.
Alex Preston does a very acoustic version of Britney Spears and will.i.am‘s “Scream & Shout.” It’s quirky and is enough to keep him in the game. Kenzie Hall follows suit with her acoustic rendition of Macklemore‘s “Can’t Hold Us.” She makes it through while Quaid Edwards learns he is going home.
A veritable parade of white guys with guitars stream across the stage. You can thank Phillip Phillips for that. One of them is smart enough to give Keith a chance to jam on his guitar. They all make it through.
We are treated to a snippet of Tiquila Wilson making the Miley Cyrus song “The Climb” her own. If she is quietly eliminated during a montage of Hollywood week, I will be very upset. Also, if I hear another skinny white girl with highlights wail for someone to take her down to the river, I’m going to oblige her and hold her under the water until she stops kicking. Baby Meat Loaf (aka Caleb Johnson) makes it through the next round as does resident weirdo Emmanuel Zidor. For every happy person who makes it another day, another dream is crushed.
Keith London sings a creepy version “If I Were a Boy.” The judges are not into it and make him sing another song. He then launches into “Same Love.” Despite his weirdness and penchant for message-heavy songs, he remains in the game. Sweet band girl, Malaya Watson, and 17-year-old Jena Asciutto take to the keyboard on stage. They are followed by cutie pie Texan, Savion Wright, who cites his late brother as his inspiration for his original song. All three make it through.
All contestants left standing at the end of the day learn that tomorrow is group day. Groups form and tensions start to rise. A check-in with the groups at midnight, reveal that these exhausted contestants are at their wits’ end. We see a band of misfits who form a group after seceding from their former groups only to eventually disband again. One group implodes when one member is incapable of understanding the concept of harmonies, while another comes down with the flu. We see a guy drop his third group. It’s like the Destiny’s Child musical chairs in the early 2000s for everyone who wasn’t Beyonce or Beyonce’s cousin.
Loud & Fierce look amazing but can’t remember the lyrics in rehearsals. They’re my early favorites because of the fact that they are already acting like a real R&B group with their bickering and gorgeous matching outfits and lipstick. A montage of the next episode’s events promises more group drama, stunning upsets and as always, more tears for the losers who are sent back to their hometown of Sadsville, USA.
Are you ready for some choreographed dancing, bursting into hysterics and valiant attempts at harmonies? Well, you better be, because group day is happening so…get into it.
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