Ryan’s voice over starts the show. He tells us that Chris Daughtry is the fastest Idol debut to go platinum. Uhmm. Wouldn’t that be Clay Aiken? I’m just sayin’…
Hollywood week – Five days, one hour. Blink, and you miss it. I don’t understand the logic of cutting the Hollywood round down to two shows. Hollywood is the first opportunity to finally hear some good singers. After 4 weeks and 11 hours of interminable auditions, we Idol faithful deserve a little reward, doncha think? The editing was crazy. It was obvious that more went on than we were given the chance to see.
There are 172 contestants competing. Ryan tells us there are twice as many girls in Hollywood as boys.
A major slash-and-burn commences as the girls are whittled down.
The first group of six are dismissed right off the bat, including the Canadian Jory Steinberg (she’s dressed just like Paula for some unknown reason) whose poise and confidence are again on display during this audition. For whatever reason, she is cut immediately– along with Geri Guyer 24, Altoona PA, Kelly Caruso 19, Pittstown NJ, Lisa Morrison 26, Selden NY, Christen Itam 20, Fredericksburg VA and Jeromishia Lemar 23, Philadelphia PA.
After the cut, Simon tells the group, “None of you were any good, it was an absolutely terrible start to the day. Sorry, no originality.” Jory leaves the stage, visibly pissed. Simon continues, “This is a warning to everyone out there, these were not winning performances.” Cutting the entire first group completely freaks the rest of the girls out. Which was the desired effect, I’m sure. That’s just good Tee Vee.
Next, Perla Meneses repeats her Shakira imitation from the audition rounds. Perla is one of the few auditioners to get backstory time during the abbreviated show, and I have to say she’s pretty annoying. She never shuts up. Rachel Jenkins, the reservist, wears a picture of her husband, who is in Iraq around her neck. She sings “Unbreak my Heart” and is unremarkable, just as she was during her audition. Rachel is cut. Perla is inexplicably put through to the next round. Simon tells her that she is, “personality over talent.” Well, duh. Rachel cries–she has something to cry about. Perla cries because…Simon yelled at her?
Baylie Brown, the 16 year-old country Barbie doll from the San Antonio auditions performs and sails to the next round. She has a decent voice, and appears to be one to watch.
We see a whole bunch of girls get cut, including Ashlyn Carr, the San Antonio auditioner who was cut by the judges and then brought back and given a second chance. She vows that she will continue to still do music, but not before she gets pissed at her boyfriend, puts sugar in his gas tank and gets arrested. Porcelana Patino, the NY gal who trained like a soldier for her audition is cut too. Finally, Sarah Burgess whose “Dad” (ahem) did not know she was auditioning in New York gets the ole’ heave ho. Can’t say I’m bummed.
The judges continue their cutting frenzy. Ryan asks ominously in a voice-over, “Did they cut too many on the first day?” I hear that yes, in fact, they did.
Nicole Turner 27, Richmond CA, brings her bossy aunt and mom to Hollywood. Aunt and mom persuade Nicole to sing “Ain’t No Way” instead of “Tracks of my Tears”. She doesn’t do well and gets cut. Then she admits that she sang the song for her aunt and her mom. Nicole and her singing partner, Ashley Cleland are sent home. Nicole is crying because she was cut, and the mom feels guilty. Mom takes the stage to appeal to the judges, but they say actually, it wasn’t the song, the problem was Nicole. Nicole begins to argue, Simon raises his voice. Nicole tells Simon not to shout at her. Someone in the auditorium yells “It wasn’t the song!”. So that is that–another drama dispensed with in a few short minutes.
Out of 114 girls, 56 are sent home on the first day. Melinda Doolittle, Gina Glocksen and Jamie Lynn Ward all make it through to the next round
Brian Miller, Jarrod Fowler and Matt Sato audition together. Jarod actually sings better than he did during his initial audition, but is cut anyway. Brian and Matt make it through. Matt launches into a rather TMI explanation of his family dysfunction–his Mom never tells him he loves her. But, now that he’s made it to Hollywood, his mother loves him. Ruh roh. Thirty-four guys make it through including, Chris Sligh, Blake Lewis, Nick Pedro and Phil Stacey. Day Two blows by in 10 minutes.
Day 3 and 4
The next 16 minutes are dedicated to the group rounds. Contestants break off into groups. This part looks familiar. Kids scramble to find partners, and some are invariably left out looking to be taken in by somebody. The groups are all about stress and personality conflicts.
Matt Buckstein, unlike last year (remember the singing cowboys from last year?) has better luck hooking up with good singers–Nick Pedro is in his group.
Next up. MEEOOOW! The girls aren’t getting along. Baylie Brown is set up with her fellow Barbie dolls, “best friends” Antonella Barba and Amanda Coluccio. An argument ensues between the “best friends”. At midnight, the contestants head back to the hotel to rehearse, and argue some more.
Gina Glocksen, Jessica Gordon, Marisa Rhodes and Perla Meneses are grouped together to sing “Be My Baby”. Surprise, surprise, Perla can’t stay in tune to sing the backup vocals. The other girls are not happy.
Baylie, Antonella and Amanda are having trouble with the lyrics of “This Old Heart of Mine”. Amanda gives up and wanders up the hall to flirt with some boys. Baylie and Antonella call it a night.
The next morning, the two girl groups continue to argue.
Cut to Simon saying to the assembled group of contestants, “DO NOT FORGET THE WORDS.” Of course, he knows perfectly well that ain’t gonna happen. And again, it appears that according to the producers, missed words=GOOD TV. So naturally, we the viewers, are treated to a montage of contestants forgetting the words.
Matt Sato’ with perhaps the specter of his mother looming too menacingly over his shoulder, completely loses it performing “Be My Baby”. He forgets the words and sings out of tune. The judges cut him. He calls his mom and says “Hello, I didn’t make it through today, I forgot my words” and she says, “You forgot WHAT?” The mom is not edited very nicely. That’s going to be one uncomfortable conversation around the dinner table tonight.
Gina Glocksen has this whole Idol thang in the proper prospective when she says, “I don’t care about anybody else in this competition except myself. Sorry, I’m going to be the next American Idol.” It’s dog eat dog, baby.
Gina and Perla’s group is up next. Jessica Gordon 27, Philadelphia PA and Marisa Rhodes, 21 Bethlehem, PA round out the group. Perla is definitely the weakest link. It’s obvious that the Shakira imitation is really the only trick Perla has up her sleeve. She forgets the words and sings off-key. When Simon says, “One of you is going home.” Perla knows she’s reached the end of the line.
Finally, we get to the good stuff. Chris Sligh, Tom Lowe, Blake Lewis and Rudy Cardenes make up a killer group. They sing the Bee Gees “How Deep is Your Love” Their harmonies are good, and to really stand out, Blake does a wild human beatbox thing. It’s very original, and they do indeed bring the house down. These guys know what they are doing. Talent sought out talent here and they could not miss.
Yikes, what’s the deal with Sundance Head? How much would this guy have to suck to actually get cut? Despite singing through his nose, looking “boiled”, screaming off key and forgetting his words, he manages to advance to the rooms. How is it that his singing partners, L’Paige Bedford, 16, Dallas TX and Robyn Troup, (she’s the chick who sang with Justin Timberlake on the Grammys–of course she doesn’t make it through–if she had no way could she have entered that other contest…) though not great, are STILL better than he is. Yet they are cut, and Sundance is not. WTF?
Simon tells Paula she was “very generous with that guy” as if she’s the only one making the decision. Sundance says, “I’m probably one of the best singers I know, but that doesn’t help when you don’t know the lyrics.” Wow, humble too!
Is Sundance being set up to play some sort of villain character, or a spoiler? The producers are not editing him well, yet they are advancing him.
Baylie Brown’s group is up next. Despite the arguing, the gals pinky-swear to stay BFF forevah!!11111! Antonella remembers her words. Baylie can’t remember them at all. Amanda does better, but still forgets words. Only Baylie is cut, which is a shock, because Simon seemed to have a total hard-on for her back during the auditions. Baylie and mom are crying. Then she starts whining that she worked the hardest. She confronts Amanda and Antonella, who are appalled by Baylie’s accusations. “We can have as many boys as we want at home, ” sniffs Amanda. So much for Best Friends Forever.
Thirty-six people are cut including Sean Michel and Ebony Jointer.
Fifty-six people are left to be split up into rooms. They audition solo with background singers, but we only see glimpses of these auditions with no audio. Grrr.
There are three rooms, one of the rooms is cut.
It’s hard to tell, but from what I can make out:
Make the cut:
Blake Lewis, Antonella Barba, Gina Glocksen, Matthew Buckstein, Chris Sligh, Paul Kim, Chris Richardson, Tommy Daniels, Tami Gosnell, Melinda Doolittle, Marisa Rhodes, Phil Stacey, Brandon Rogers, Nicholas Pedro, Rudy Cardenes, Sanjaya Malakar, Anna Kearns, Jordin Sparks, Sundance Head, Tatiana McConnico, Bernard Williams, Alaina Alexander, Haley Scarnato, Tom Lowe.
Do not make the cut:
Jamie Lynn Ward, Brian Miller, Amanda Coluccio and Shyamali Malakar, do not make the cut.
Amanda Coluccio who doesn’t make it puts on a brave face for her friend Antonella Barba who does. And, Sanjaya Malakar comforts his sister Shyamali after she is cut. We saw that one coming…
Tomorrow night: Sixteen of the Top 40 are eliminated. The remaining Top 24 will go on to compete in the semi-finals, starting with the boys, next Tuesday night.