Hollywood Week on ‘American Idol’ continued with the overly-dramatic group rounds on Wednesday, and then had individual auditions with band accompaniment on Thursday. I’ve got to say that this week really got me excited. I’ve been watching this show from Day One and I can’t recall seeing a more talented bunch.
The evening after the initial cuts, contestants have to work through the night to find partners for their group, get their song together, and make up choreography. The group round ridiculousness has never been my favorite, however I do see the purpose it serves in determining who’s going to crack and who doesn’t play well with others.
Some of the drama this year included Ashley – a.k.a. Mackenzie Phillips – who couldn’t get it together and threatened to quit. Her boyfriend took her outside and either got her a fix or gave her a good beating, and she was able to pull it together. Then we had sparklehead Tiffany, who had a hard time finding a group. That’s probably because when she took the stage the first time, she said, “I’m tired of watching people trying to do what I know I can do.” Way to make friends! Calee also had some issues. Clint “Junebug” threw him out, didn’t like his vibe. Dumb move, Clint. Remember that people are going to vote for you.
The group auditions went as expected. We got to see some new talent, pitchiness, trainwrecks, forgotten words, and tears. Lots of tears. People who went home included Tiffany, Rob (the ex of Chelsee, who did make it through), and Aaron Gutierrez (whose brother made it through).
For Thursday night, we were down to 100 contestants and on to individual auditions with a band. This is where things started getting exciting for me. They hit us with youngsters Haley, Ashthon, and Thia, who all had some big voices and sounded great. Then we had a few misses with Adrian, Caleb and Frances, who showed us the usual problems – not doing well with an instrument, not being able to coordinate with a band, and not having rhythm.
We then got to hear several renditions of “Georgia on My Mind.” Clint Junebug did it first, and though I didn’t want to like him, he was really good. We then had Kendra and Sophia do their versions, and both were very nice. Then we had two renditions of “My Prerogative.” Carson emerged as a scene-stealer in the group round and brought it again with this song. There was a bit of pitchiness, dog, but his energy is very fun and he’s got some chops. Chris the Barista, who takes care of his brain-injured wife, sang a version alone with his guitar. Not so good, but not terrible.
Next we were on to more competitors who played with instruments. Julie played keyboard. Caleb sang Stevie Wonder with guitar. Colton played keyboards. Brett played guitar. Robbie played piano. All were great. And then we came to Casey, the guy that works at film camp. He brought his stand-up bass and gave us another rendition of “Georgia on my Mind.” DAMN! It may be the best audition I’ve ever seen. I had to watch it twice and call my significant other in from the other room to watch it. (He was suitably impressed too.)
We saw Lauren, the 15 year old teacher’s pet who sang “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” very well, though I’m a bit afraid of what’s going to happen when they get her with a stylist. Then we had Jacob, who sang “God Bless the Child.” YEAH! That guy has an amazing range and just gave it all. Awesome. John Wayne sang “Landslide” beautifully. We had Mackenzie, who blew her audition again. Jacee sang a sweet little song. Scotty sang “I Hope You Dance,” but had a hard time with the words.
After the auditions, the judges deliberated and separated the contestants into four rooms. Two rooms went through, two went home. People who got through included Clint, Lauren, Jacee, Robbie, James, Brett, Chris, Carson, Colton, Julie, Jovany, Rachel, Scotty, John Wayne, Casey, Ashley (are you freaking kidding me?) and about 35 others. Those going home included Chelsee and Mark Gutierrez. Jacqueline had gotten sick and had to drop out. So our couples and brothers are all out now.
The judges were fairly quiet this week (aside from Jennifer’s yellow top / black sequined hot-pants / gold spike Louboutins insanity). They were generally encouraging, especially to those going home. Next week, the remaining contestants are going to Vegas and taking on The Beatles. Normally ‘Idol’ doesn’t do Beatles until much later in the season, but I think doing this earlier is a good thing. Taking on The Beatles is like taking on Stevie Wonder – it exposes all weaknesses. I’m sure we’re going to see people fall flat trying to make Beatles songs “their own.” We’re going to have people who are learning the songs for the first time, and we’re going to see some more inspiring performances.