American Idol 11 – Hollywood Pt 1 – Recap and Videos

HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD!  Here’s your American Idol 11 Hollywood Round Part 1 recap post. I’ll be live blogging tonight at Entertainment Weekly. Do join me there if you’d like! I’ll be back here as soon as the episode ends on the East Coast to post videos, polls and a full recap!

Entertainment Weekly Live Blog


It’s day one and two of Hollywood week. We saw at least 23 singers tonight. Sixty eight were cut after the first day.  One fell off the stage in the episode’s BIG CLIFFHANGER.  Symone Black, the unfortunate young lady who bit it, probably went to the hospital, was given IV fluids and treated for bruises at the worst.  If she had been really hurt, the incident would have made the news and never aired on TV.

So am I waiting with baited breath for tomorrow’s big resolution? Erm. No.  I’m looking forward to Thursday’s group rounds. YES.

Obviously, the producers are gunning super hard for a girl winner this year.  The boys don’t stand out at all.  The girls–there were so many good ones. And I know for a fact  there are  a couple we haven’t seen yet!  The best girls tonight : Elise Testone, Baylie Brown, Jen Hirsh and Erika Van Pelt. The guys? Uhm…

There was a ton of over-singing tonight,  but when you’ve got 30 seconds to impress the judges, it’s got to be hard to resist pushing vocals to the limit.

We know the drill. For the first round, the contestants come out in groups of 10, sing a capella and the judges decide right then and there who to cut. It’s brutal!

A tale of two contestants. One. Johnny Keyser is so confident, he appears cocky. NOTE TO JOHNNY. Cocky doesn’t fly. Even when you’re good looking and talented! Two. Heejun Han who is painfully self-conscious.  Johnny sings “Dreamin” by Amos Lee. He could ditch about half the runs, but his blue-eyed soul is engaging.

Heejun looks around at his competition. He can’t believe the guys are so good looking. “How do I over come the beauty?” he asks. BY SANGIN’ UP A STORM FOOL!  He sings “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” like he’s the entertainment at an Asian nightclub.  He’s got potential, but his dynamics are poor, and he needs to work on enunciation.  But Jennifer is besotted! She thinks he’s the cutest thing ever.  As Heejun points to Jlo as he finishes the song, you can see the hearts in her eyes! Both Heejun and Johnny are through to the next round.

We catch a glimpse of 3 very good singers, Elise Testone, Baylie Brown and Hallie Day who all make it through as Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You” plays in the background.

Johhny Keyser (Dreamin’ by Amos Lee), Heejun Han, Elise Testone, Baylie Brown, Hallie Day

Jen Hirsh is a little nervous. She’s trying not to fidget. She’s got a powerful, pure voice. She sings “Up to The Mountain” by Patti Griffin and it’s effortless.  Hm. I can’t say the same for Lauren Gray who is super-shouty.  Randy tries to stop her, but she’s completely lost in screaming her song.  Jen and Lauren are both through to the next round.

Jen Hirsh (Up to The Mountain by Patti Griffin), Lauren Gray, Heather Youmans, Candice Russell

Two very popular boys are next.  Phillip Phillips wowed the judges at his audition with an acoustic version of “Thriller” which Nigel inexplicably allowed him to play (instruments have always been forbidden in the first round).  It becomes clear why Nigel allowed it. Phillip is pretty much crap without it.  His singing is characterized by a lot of  gravelly, unmusical shouting. It took me a few seconds to figure out he was singing “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” by James Brown.

Reed Grimm is just cute by half which is what annoys me about him. At his audition he sang the “Family Matters” theme. Tonight it’s “I Got a Golden Ticket” from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  His adorkablity distracts from his average singing voice.

Travis Orlando whose backstory included homelessness and a mom who ditched the family, has a pleasant soulful voice, but I’m not seeing star quality. But he’s better than both Phillip and Reed who move on. Travis does not.  Also going home:  Ramiro Garcia (The boy born without ears),  golf course mechanic, Wolf Hamlin and Aspen’s Jenni Schick.  Sixty-eight hopefuls head home at the end of Day one.

Phillip Phillips, “Papas Got a Brand New Bag” by James Brown. Reed Grimm & Travis Orlando

Day 2

Family man, Adam Brock , says he’s been told there’s a large black woman trapped inside of his body. That’s a little frightening.  He’s got a big soulful voice for a white guy.  Actually, he reminds me of Danny Gokey–but extra shouty and without the tragic backstory. Actually his thing is a baby daughter he feels guilty leaving behind at home.  Maybe when Adam leaves Idol, he’ll  get signed by a country label! Heh.

Jane Carey, if you don’t remember, is Jim Carey’s daughter.  She sings “Looking Out My Back Door”. She didn’t impress me much in her audition, but I’m kinda liking her here. She’s got a nice tone and good phrasing.  The long hippie dress thing she’s wearing, however, is tragic. Adam makes it through to the next round, but Jane does not.  After one more appearance with the famous daddy backstory, she’s no longer useful to the show, I suppose.

Adam Brock “Walking in Memphis”  and Jane Carey “Looking Out my Back Door” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Teenager, Shannon Magrane is very tall and the daughter of a baseball player. She’s got potential, but her rendition of “Falling” by Alicia Keys lacks originality and flavor. She’s got a big voice, but little personality. It’s really a case of needed a few more years to find herself.

David Leathers is also a teenager, but looks impossibly young.  He sings Celine Dion’s “Because You Love Me” which is an interesting choice.  But he gets away with the girl songs, because he can hit these crazy high notes! He’s got an impossibly pretty falsetto. Wow.  Maybe his voice hasn’t changed yet. Maybe it shouldn’t. “I have ties that are older than you are,” says Steven.

Jessica Phillips is the hopeful whose boyfriend suffered a devastating stroke.  Jessica’s got a cool  contemporary vibe.  I didn’t like her song choice, “He Fills Me Up” much–I wish she’d picked something more relevant–but she still nailed it.

Shannon, David and Jessica all make it through.

Shannon Magrane “Falling” by Alicia Keys  David Leathers “Because You Love Me” by Celine Dion” & Jessica Phillips “He Fills Me Up”

Erika Van Pelt is one of my favorites right now. She’s got a full rich alto and a ton of soul.  It would be fun to watch her look transform. Her old-fashioned hair and clothing makes her look much older. I can’t warm up to Creighton Fraker. His nasally whine is not pleasant.  This is Aaron Marcellus’ 3rd try at Idol, maybe it will be the charm? His soulful pipes are impressive, but the vocal showboating was unnecessary.  Erika, Creighton and Aaron are all through to the next round.

Erika Van Pelt “Glitter in the Air” by P!nk, Creighton Fraker & Aaron Marcellus

During Lauren Mink’s performance of “Alone” by Heart, Jennifer leans in to Randy and says, “Did she change keys in the middle of the song?” Not a good sign. 

Jeremy Rosado butters up the judges before he sings. “You are breathtaking,” he says to Jlo. Randy thinks the compliment is for him. Erp. Jeremy tells an icky story about being a germaphobe who works for a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases.  He sings that tired old chestnut, “Superstar” and it’s underwhelming, despite Jlo giving the international sign for “goosies”.

The guys are not impressive.  Probably by design. We’ll see if the producers can finally have the “Year of the Girl” they’ve been threatening for the past couple of years.

The big controversy is 16 year old Symone Black who fell off the stage at the end of her performance. I must be an awful person, but when it happened, I didn’t give it a second thought. The last shot was Symone on the floor waiting for a medic. If that was supposed to be a cliffhanger, it was the worst ever. First of all, the event would have never been aired if the girl was actually hurt.  Tomorrow, the press will be INDIGNANT that Nigel would do such a terrible thing, while reminding readers that they have the full video of the fall in case their DVR cut it off.  Heh.  Symone will get tons of press attention–interviews she would have not had otherwise, I doubt that she and her family are upset by the incident. Nigel’s attempt at some  badly needed buzz was lame, but I just can’t get worked up over it.

Oh. Her singing. Very nice, soulful. I hope she’s called back to the next round. She sang “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding.  Right before she conked, she told the panel that she picked the song because she wanted to appeal to an older audience. “You’re saying we’re older..” chuckles Randy. Just at that moment….fwump.  The judges didn’t make a move to help the poor girl, just sat at their table with their mouths hanging open.  “She hit her head” says Steven, master of the TOTALLY OBVIOUS. Oh boy.  Actually really annoying: The constant promos featuring the fall.  I’ll make sure to avoid FOX all day tomorrow.

Lauren Mink, Jeremy Rosado & Symone Black

ETA: And here’s an E News reporting that Symone was fine and went back to here audition. The only cliffhanger is whether she made it to the next round or not

About mj santilli 34858 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!