Hollywood Part 1

Hollywood Part Uno:

Hooray for Hollywood!   Yeah, that was lame…

I’m so relieved the auditions are over.   Three weeks of bad, uninteresting, unamusing singing is more than enough for me.     The Hollywood rounds aren’t my favorite, but at this point we begin to get a good look at the  contenders.   We finally get to hear some GOOD SANGING!   YAY!

This first show focuses on the first round – where each contestant performs a song they pick from a list of 12:

Bat Out Of Hell
Bless The Broken Road
Cant Fight The Moonlight
Dim All The Lights
First Cut Is The Deepest
Hopelessly Devoted To You
I Believe In You And Me
Ill Never Love This Way Again
If   (the Bread song. Ick.)
If I Ever Fall In Love Again
Never Gonna Give You Up
Unbreak My Heart

The  first round lasts two days, with half the contestants auditioning and the other half  going off on an  “excursion” each day.   At the end of  each  day 30+ contestants are cut.   Ninety-nine contestants move on to the second round.

A picture named KelliePicklerHoll1a.jpgThe show starts off with Kellie Pickler, this year’s country-pop girl, who gets a ton of screen time.   For some reason, the producers love her, even though her vocals so far have been fair-to-middlin’.   Her dramatic backstory (abandoned by mom,  druggie dad in jail,  raised by grandfather) will become less important as  performing becomes the focus of the show–so I’m not really sure where the producers are going with this.  Her first Hollywood audition is fairly shakey, with Simon chalking it up to nerves.   The comparisons to last year’s winner, Carrie Underwood are going to be inevitable, but Kellie can’t sing as well.  I predict she’ll make the Top 12 though, as she’s already amassed a fan base, and I’m assuming the producers will continue to promote her.





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We finally get a real good look at Patrick Hall tonight.   Paula pimped him early on in an MTV article, his friends have dropped by here to tell me how awesome  he is :).   And now we finally get to check him out.   Patrick got a good bit of screen time tonight.   He performed “If” in a sweet, emotional, if not powerful, voice.   I wouldn’t exactly call him handsome, but he does have very beautiful eyes, and somehow the whole package adds up to something swoon-worthy.   I think he’ll be one to watch, with the potential to amass a HUGE fan base.   Even though his musical style isn’t my thing exactly, I do find myself drawn to him.   He could very well become one of my favorites.





Was it really fair to cut  Steven David, Ryan Baysden and RJ Norman by saying, “Congratulations  for coming this far…” and then morphing into “sorry, but your going home”?   RJ and Steven  came off as egotistical butt-heads during their auditions, so I suppose this bit of trickery was meant to  feel satisfying, but I  just wasn’t digging  it.   Especially when Seacrest’s voice-over painted their reactions as if they were behaving like sore losers.   No, actually, it was more like  the reaction of someone whose pride has been  hurt.   And I’m not sure what Ryan Baysden ever did to deserve that treatment.   I guess he was just caught in the crossfire.    Baysden’s reaction–a look of relief on his face, turning into disbelief and then embarrassment was exactly what the producers were aiming for.   I wasn’t crazy about any of them as contestants, but, I hate the manipulation.

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Lisa Tucker is 16 years old and a very polished performer.   She sounded a little under pitch tonight, but still did a great job.   She’s one of the young ones who will probably handle the pressure well.





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I cannot figure out why Matthew Buckstein made the first cut after his awful, hammy performance of “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”   Additionally, he was hopelessly off key.   His initial audition, which we didn’t see, must have been incredible.   Or he’s one of those personality-plus contestants who the producers figure is worth having around for  awhile.






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In between auditions at the theater, we join the other half of the contestants who are enjoying themselves out on the town.   Here’s Funeral Director, Jason Horn talking about how thrilled he is to be competing on Idol.  






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Based on Ashley Gudamuz’s initial audition, which wasn’t very good, she probably shouldn’t have been advanced to Hollywood at all.   Her Hollywood audition is even worse–she seemed completely in over her head as she stumbled through her performance.   However, the farewell speech she gave to her fellow contestants, telling them to “watch and learn from the ones who get through” showed a level-headedness and maturity you prolly won’t see much of during these early rounds.





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Paris Bennett is adorable.   Not  quite as good here  as she was in her initial audition, but it’s evident  that she’s a natural performer–it  seems to come  to her as if she’s channeling something otherworldly.





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Poor Megan Zieger has laryngitis.   She obviously has an incredible voice.   And really, who wouldn’t sympathize with her losing her voice right before  the first big Hollywood audition? Who wouldn’t, until she starts dissing her fellow contestants with  remarks like “I know I’m one of the better singers” and “People who aren’t even on the level that I’m on are sounding better than me today.” While maybe true, the snotting will ultimately turn folks off.   Her laryngitis did wreck her audition, but after some aggressive pleading, the judges let Megan through to the next round.   She did deserve to move on, despite the snotty attitude.   Come to think of it, the ‘tude is what  probably  got her so much screen time in the first place. So there you go.



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Taylor Hicks is incredible.   And, like Paris Bennet,  His blues-tinged vocals  also seem to come  from some other place and time.    Despite looking spazzy and constipated  when he sings, I expect him to be mopping the floor with his fellow contestants, talent-wise.    Unfortunately, he’s a little too offbeat and  his appeal skews  a little too old for the Idol demographic. I predict Taylor will make the Top 12, but won’t make it further than 6th place   I’ll just have to steel myself for that eventuality.





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Garet Johnson is fulfilling his sole reason for his advancement to Hollywood, and quite admirably.   He’s not a great singer, though he seems to have improved since his initial audition.   He tries hard–like the little engine that could and is very earnest and sweet.   He made the first cut, because I suspect the producers have more in mind for his particular storyline.   The judges so far have been   kind, but I really  don’t think puppy-kicking would be looked upon too kindly by the TV audience.






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I can’t believe the Brittenum twins, (2nd left)  those two-bit petty thieves, are taking up so much time on my TV screen.   They are untalented and obnoxious, and it’s unfathomable to me that they made it as far as the Top 44.   I couldn’t believe Paula praising  Terrell’s overblown, overwrought, offkey performance of “The First Cut is the Deepest.”  

It was laughable, especially when  compared against Taylor Hick’s and Chris Daughtry’s so-vastly-superior-it’s-out-in-the-stratosphere versions.  Even the uneven and inexperienced 16 yr. old Simmons twins (1st left)  completely pwned the Brittenums.   Ugh.   I want these asshats off my TV NOW.

On Day 2 of the first round auditions, four very different singers tackle the same song, “If I Ever Fall in Love Again.”

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Gina Glocksen rises to the occasion.   She’s so much better when she’s not singing Celine!   I thought her performance was one of the best  of what we heard  Day 2.  





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David Radford did NOT rise to the occasion.   Imagine Bill Murray’s lounge singer from Saturday Night Live attempting “If I Ever Fall in Love Again.”   Yeah.   I think David can sing.   This particular audition just didn’t cut it.







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Ace Young definitely has “the moves” I suppose.   He’s sure pretty to look at, I’ll give him that–REAL pretty.   But his vocals still seem breathy and insubstantial to my ears.   But then,  there is  the option of watching  him perform with the TV sound turned down…





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Kevin Covais still sounds like  goat-boy.   His vocals have this forced vibrato–and a discernible lisp comes through his singing.   Like David Radford, he may just be too young for this competition.   Both boys sound like their voices need to mature some more.





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Chris Daughtry is by no means the best singer of this bunch.   He really lacks a nice tone and his vocals are way too  screachy and shrill  in his upper register.  But, he’s a rock singer who sings with unbridled passion.   Perfect vocals are not a requirement.   Chris is another one to watch.   He could very well be this year’s rock star.






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Mandisa is the bomb.   That’s it.







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Katharine McPhee seems to have the Idol formula down.   She starts off singing simply, but then goes for the big glory-note payoff at the end.   The showy vocals mask what’s revealed in subsequent listens–that she’s off-pitch and warbly in spots.   Maybe not so impressive.  I can imagine her Mom/vocal coach  watching past idol performances carefully and coaching Katharine to sing in a way that will please the judges.   No matter what the judges say about “oversinging” they always reward the singers who glory note.    She could get boring pretty fast if she doesn’t shake things up a little.  





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David Hoover  sang Bat out of Hell badly, and just as unamusingly as he performed whatever the hell he performed during the audition rounds.  Why waste our time with this audition episode reject?   Because the bad auditions are soooo popular, why not bring a little bit of the audition flavah into the Hollywood rounds?   Ugh.   Thankfully, he didn’t take up too much valuable screen time.





Some contestants  who didn’t survive the first rounds:

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