American Idol 2020 Hollywood Rounds begin TONIGHT on ABC at 8 pm ET/PT. The first of THREE Hollywood episodes will feature the contestants choosing song that reflect their personal genre. It’s a slight twist on the usual lines of 10. Featured on the panel are veteran R&B master, Lionel Richie, pop star Katy Perry and country singer Luke Bryan. Ryan Seacrest returns to host.
We’ve got a TON of Spoiler posts linked below. NO SPOILER DISCUSSION ON THE LIVE BLOG. Keep talk under the spoilers posts. Giving stuff away will result in an instant banning.
The show kicks off explaining how Hollywood Week will have some twists this season. “Hollywood throws you curveballs,” says Katy. “It’s Hollywood Week like you’ve never seen it before!” says Ryan.
The big difference vs previous season is that the judges have watched ALL the singers perform BEFORE making eliminations. NO LINES OF 10 at a time. Each contestant must declare a genre, and then pick the song of their choice to represent that genre.
They bring contestants on stage according to their genre, and similar to the lines of 10, ask certain contestants to step forward. The singer/songwriters are first. The format will be by genre. The kids are pulled on stage, and the action cuts to earlier in the day to the artist’s performance.
The singers DON’T stay for judges remarks. But we do here the judges asides after the singer leaves the stage. It’s basically to keep us all guessing about the results, that the remarks are usually mixed.
Julia Gargano – The Joke by Brandi Carlile – 21 Staten Island – She sang an impressive original for judges at her audition. She continues to impress, even when covering other artists songs. Her tone is deep, throaty, with a bit of a rasp. I like it a lot. Katy calls her amazing, but thinks that she “blew threw that.” Luke calls Julia “incredible.”
Marna Michele – I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You by Elvis Presley. – 27 Costa Mesa CA – Marna auditioned in a wheelchair, and shared about following her dreams despite her disability. She has a nice tone, but I don’t love her phrasing.
Arthur Gunn – Hard to Handle by Otis Redding – 22 Wichita KS – Arthur is a refugee from Nepal, who has been soaking up American culture since moving to Kansas. He accompanies himself on acoustic guitar for a raspy bluesy version of the R&B classic. Katy yells “MORE!” He obliges, and Luke sings along for a bit. Gotta say, Arthur is gonna be super-hoarse by the end of the week. Lionel compares him to Bob Marley.
RESULTS: Arthur and Julia are through. Marna is eliminated.
Louis Knight – 19 Philadelphia PA – He grew up in London, but lives in Philadelphia now. Louis admits that he dropped out of college. Ryan confesses that he did too, and never looked back. Katy calls it a “Harry Styles comes on X Factor moment,” adding “I know it’s a different show!” He performs a piano driven rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” It’s a twist on the song I’ve never heard before. Louis is a good musician, as well as singer. But Katy and Lionel were looking for more “fire” and “sausage” respectively!
Genavieve Linkowski – You Are the Reason – 21 Goodrich MI – She’s also a returnee–from season 16. She comes from a huge family. Tragically, her younger sister died in a car accident last year. She strikes up a friendship with fellow returnee Margie Mays. I feel about Genavieve the same as I did last time. Pretty voice, but not quite there yet.
Robert Taylor – Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin – 27 Donaldsonville LA – He competed on The Voice season 8 all the way to 10th place. Robert came out as gay last year, afterwhich his family rejected him. (In his The Voice backstory, Robert gave up attending Berklee to take care of his ailing mother. Hmf.) He confesses that he’s “somewhat homeless” right now. He says, “My roots are in soul, but I consider myself pop.” Really dude? I wonder if contestants choose genres strategically. Maybe Rob was nervous about the competition in the soul group. He accompanies himself on piano. It’s a super SOULFUL PERFORMANCE. He’s definitely in the wrong genre. But whatever. His runs are effortless, as he moves into his falsetto. It’s a bit showboaty, but he’s talented.
Genavieve Linkowski, Robert Taylor, Demi Rae, Louis Knight and Geena Fontanella ALL make it to the next round.
Kay Genyse – Ain’t Nobody by Tina Turner – 20 High Point NC – She’s wearing some crazy flower thing on her head. She sits in the holding room explaining her “alter ego” and how she attracts attention wherever she goes. She is the contestant “sang in the streets” for her golden ticket during the auditions. She borders on a joke contestant, to be honest. And now, on the Hollywood stage, She’s awful. No surprise. SO MANY off key notes. “I did really good!” she says afterward. UH. No.
Bilaal Avaz – Stone Cold by Demi Lovato – 19 North Haven CT – Here is a singer we have not heard before! He was raised in a very strict Muslim family. His family is from Pakistan. Music was forbidden in his house growing up. But now his parents are his biggest fans! I like happy endings. Bilaal has a beautiful, emotive tone. Lionel calls him a “humble giant.”
Shannon Gibbons – All I Want by Kodaline – 20 Bellport NY – Shannon sings with a raspy tone which enhances her storytelling abilities. In her audition, she described a painful childhood, which she channels into her emotional performance. Her vibrato is beautiful. She has wanted to be on Idol her whole life. I have to say: An artist on the other show sang this song tonight. I liked it very much. But, he can’t hold a candle to this version.
Lauren Spencer Smith – Because of You by Kelly Clarkson – 16 Vancouver CANADA – She’s a Canadian singer, who uploaded a video that became extremely viral. Her vocal tone is similar to Shannon’s, but she doesn’t have nearly the same command of her emotions. Lauren is still a tad young.
Shannon, Lauren, Bilaal move forward. Kay is eliminated. Kay is crying her eyes out. “I performed my butt off!” she sobs. Ha. Kay gives off old-school Idol I suck but don’t know it vibes.
Cyniah Elise – All I Ask by Adele – 17 Atlanta GA – The young singer had more than 30 people at her Savannah audition. Cyniah is a beautiful stylist. I’d like more emotion from her, but her phrasing is lovely. She doesn’t overdo the runs!
Makayla Phillips – And I Am Telling You from Dreamgirls – 17 Temecula CA – Makayla was a contestant on America’s Got Talent in 2018. Whoa. She’s going for a pretty big song here. The performance is a little pageanty, but she’s hitting the notes. It’s tough for young singers who have been singing all their lives. Imitation inevitably comes first, and can be hard to break out of. She adds a few unique flourishes at the end. Luke compares her to Ariana dagum Grande!
Just Sam – Hearts Ain’t Gonna Lie by Arlissa – 21 Harlem NY – She flew for the first time on a plane. She had a really tough upbringing in the New York projects. Now, she’s got her “lucky box” she uses to busk in the subways. Sam gets a standing ovation. DESERVED. That was an effortlessly beautiful performance, brimming with emotion. Sam is a natural. Ha. The judges leave tips in her box!
Travis, Just Sam, Elijah, Jordan, Mikayla, Cyniah are through. Katy is all “We don’t think you’re ready…to go home yet.” LAME FAKE OUT!
Sofia Schuster – 15 Santa Barbara CA – Another singer we haven’t seen before. Young Sofia has a huge voice. Impressive.
Adam Curry – Somebody Else by 1975 – 25 Chicago IL – And another new guy. Such a pretty voice! I’m a little in love. Heh. Lionel calls it “artistry.”
Francisco Martin – Hold Back the River by James Bay – 18 San Francisco – He struggles with nerves. Back in his audition, Katy told Francisco he was “Top 10.” Bobby advises he just embrace his nerves. Francisco sings with urgency and vulnerability–two things that aren’t easy to marry. After he comes off stage he says, “I should have been better.
Jonny West – Someone You Love by Lewis Capaldi – 23 Murietta GA – He’s Margie Mays boyfriend. At his audition, which they attended together, Katy told him he was more talented, flat out. Backstage, Margie helps calm his nerves. The competition intimidates him. It’s crazy, because he’s talented. Possessing a unique sound, he lays it all out on the stage.
Dillon James – Vienna by Billy Joel – 26 Bakersfield CA – This time, Dillon actually mentions his acting career. He talks about filming teen and Lifetime movies, and working with Dolly Parton. That’s when he fell into the rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol. But Dillon has been in recovery for over 2 years. Dillon sings a country tinged rendition of the Billy Joel classic. That arrangement was very creative.
Sophie, Adam, Madison make it to the next round. SADS FOR THE OTHERS. Nope. Another fake out. EVERYBODY GETS TO ADVANCE. It’s like the Oprah show.
Margie Mays – The Voice Within by Christina Aguilera – 26 Wilmington DE – Margie is a returnee from season 17, and boyfriend to fellow contestant, Jonny West. She actually has a good voice, but has trouble staying focused.
Nick Merico – I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know – 23 Woodland Hills CA – Nick claims that he dropped out last year before Hollywood Week because he didn’t feel “ready.” He felt a lot of regret afterward. This year, Lionel gave him some “tough love,” which felt more like a fake TV moment, than a way to help Nick. His vocals are are solid, but there’s something facile about his delivery. He needs to dig deeper.
Kimmy Gabriella – Say Something by a Great Big World – 17 Lakeland FL – Katy declared Kimmy Top 10. She’s afraid that the judges won’t like her as much this time. Her father won first place in a Puerto Rican talent show, which led to success. He’s the Kelly Clarkson of PR! She overdoes the runs a bit, but her tone is exquisite. The runs are in service of real emotion. If she backed of a little, the performance would be perfect. Katy stands up, “THE SHOW’S OVER!” Luke calls it “a little busy.” Just what I’m saying!
Nick, Kimmy, Margie, all advance to the next round.
Lauren Mascitti – Don’t it Make Your Brown Eyes Blue by Crystal Gayle – 27 Nashville TN – Her fiance, Sean, is quite a bit older than her, and a big time Nashville songwriter. He’s not with her in Hollywood. Lauren is a bit of a ringer, having been around Nashville for a few years now. Her tone is fresh, but with a retro twist.
Hannah Pestridge – Over You by Miranda Lambert – 24 Rockdale TX – She auditioned with her husband and musical partner. She got a golden ticket, he didn’t. Hannah also is a recovering addict. She really misses her daughters. This performance is even better than her audition. There’s so much heartbreak in this song (DAMN YOU BLAKE). She captures that. Luke observes, “she has some realness.” Yes!
Grace Leer – Unchained Melody by Righteous Brothers – 27 Nashville TN – Grace made Top 20 on American Juniors at 11 years old. She’s gives the old Righteous Brothers classic a twang. But not too much. It’s more folky than country.
Luke takes his sweet ole time telling the entire line they’re going through to the next round. That includes, Lauren, Hannah and Grace.
Amber Fiedler – Rise Up by Andra Day – 23 Coeur D’Alene ID – Amber had her baby three weeks ago! She feels good. She feels peaceful about putting her baby up for an open adoption. The adoptive family named her Nora Rose. Amber’s voice is so beautiful. Her tone is clear as a bell, and that range is impressive. She hits those notes cleanly, without oversinging. I love her.
Sophia Wackerman – Let it Be by The Beatles – 20 Long Beach CA – Her song choice is appropriate. Sophia’s mother, a background singer, died after a battle with stage 4 cancer a few years ago. She finds a lot of comfort in her Mother’s memory. She tries to sing notes just out of her reach, and overdoes the runs. But otherwise, she sang that beautifully.
Jovin Webb – Make it Rain by Ed Sheeran- 28 Gonzales LA – Jovin sings the blues with a gritty realism that absolutely gets my attention.
Doug Kiker – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – 27 Mobile AL – His first audition went viral. He came to American Idol without any experience. He’s a garbage man, who wants to make if for his daughter. He’s crying he’s so nervous! He starts singing “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” stops and admits “That’s the wrong song!” Doug isn’t a good singer. He bellows and shouts his way through performances. He’s super pitchy. But I guess the whole garbage man thing was too hard a backstory to resist.
Sophia, Ambert and Jovin are through. Doug, unsurprisingly, is eliminated.
Also eliminated in this round: Steven Sylvester, Meghan Fittin, and Gilberto.