No screwing around! This year’s two-hour Hollywood episode wastes no time on trips to the beach, hotel antics or synergistic visits to movies Fox will be releasing this summer. Nope, this year we get all the meat, with very little fat, and I’m liking it a lot.
On the first day, Simon tells the assembled crowd of 164, that they’ll be cut down to 50 contestants by the end of the week. Last year, that number was 44, the year before, 40. There are other changes-significant changes to this year’s Hollywood Round. During the initial auditions, during the first two days, some contestants are fast-tracked to Day Four. Others are cut, but get a second chance on Day 3–singing a’capella for the judges. On the fourth day, the fast tracked and the survivors of Day 3 are brought together to audition one last time.
Gone are the group auditions. There’s no big reveal at the end of the episode in the rooms of doom, either. Brand new this year–contestants accompany themselves on instruments if they wish. It definitely adds a new twist to the proceedings.
Ryan explains that many of these kids have grown up watching this show and that they think they know what’s in store for them…
Ok, there is a lot to cover. I’m going to attempt to make this simple:
Fast-tracked to Day 4:
Brooke White 24, Mesa AZ , Auditioned in Philly – She’s the sweet blond girl who’s never seen an R rated movie (she’s a Mormon). She admits she has problems with confidence. It’s evident as she reacts with shock (this year’s Melinda Doolittle?) to the judges praise. She sings Carol King’s “Beautiful” sitting at an electric piano. She’s got a singer/songwriter thing going that typically does not succeed on Idol. The theme nights could trip her up.
David Hernandez 24, Glendale AZ – Auditioned in San Diego – We haven’t seen this guy yet. He does a slowed up version of Stephen Still’s “Love the One Your With”. He’s got confidence and charisma. If he doesn’t choke, (Brandon Rogers, anyone?) he could go really far. The fan groups are forming as I type this.
Chickezie Eze – 22, Inglewood, CA – We don’t hear him sing again, but we see him emerge triumphant from the auditorium.
Amanda Overmeyer 23, Mullberry, IN – Auditioned in Atlanta – Amanda is the Joplin-like rocker/biker chick. Since her initial audition, she’s been in a terrible car accident and has 12 staples in her head and cracked ribs. Ouch.
She chooses “Light my Fire” from the list. Of course. I think the classic rock fans are gonna love her, but like Simon says, she could become monotonous.
Lorena Pinot 28, Miami, FL – Auditioned in Miami – She’s goes horrendously off key.
Leo Marlow 23, Charlotte, IA auditioned in Omaha – He had a promising audition, but is swallowed up by the big stage, which Simon says will either make or break a potential contestant. It’s true.
Alisha Dixon – Guitar playing angry girl. Simon isn’t impressed.
Michael Sanfilippo 19, South Barrington, IL, Auditioned in Omaha – He barely strums his guitar as he sings. “The guitar doesn’t do you any favors, ” says Simon.
Shaun Barrows 27, Spanish Fork, UT – “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel. Shaun is a good keyboard player. Simon says, “It’s more about you bashing away at the keyboards.” Would he have said that to Billy Joel or Elton John?
Jake Mellema 20, Sand Lake MI – “Hooked on a Feeling” – He plays drums and sings–like Ringo, Don Henley, Phil Collins and Karen Carpenter. Seriously. The judges act like it was the weirdest thing they’ve ever seen. Granted, he isn’t very good. But, the drums have nothing to do with it.
Simon warns that forgetting the lyrics means an automatic cut. “Please remember the lyrics, ” he says. Some things never change.
Buck Smith 28, Kingsland GA – “Stuck in The Middle with You.” He’s stuck in the middle of the stage, not remembering the words.
Cardin McKinney 20, Nashville, TN – I have no idea what she’s singing, the lyrics are so bungled.
Natashia Blach 29, Fort Collins, CO auditioned in Miami – She just stands there and sings nothing. Except, “Kill Me Now” at the end. Too bad, her initial audition, “At Last” by Etta James, was pretty good.
Ghaleb Emachah 27, Miami FL – Ghaleb flirts with all of the girls. He takes the stage with his guitar and he’s God-awful. He’s flat through the entire song. But then, he should have never been advanced to Hollywood in the first place.The lucky peeps who are fast tracked get to relax. The others have more work to do.
Eighty more contestants audition.
Josiah Leming 18, Morristown, NJ – Auditioned in Atlanta – “Grace Kelly” by Mika – I still love this kid. He sits behind the keyboards and just goes off into another world when he performs. He’s not the best vocalist, but he’s unique. The judges adore him. I hope he moves out of his car and into a real home when this is all over.
Danny Noriega 17, Azusa, CA – “When I Need You” – Still with the wacky tics, but this performance is better than his audition. Danny is one to watch.
Ramielle Maulbay 19, Miramar, FL – Auditioned in Miami – “Til You Come Back to Me” by Aretha Franklin. She’s also much better than here than her initial audition. The Pinoys will have talent to choose…
Carly Smithson , Los Angeles- Auditioned in San Diego – “When I Need You” – Carly Hennessy Smithson, back for another chance after 1. A failed major label debut. 2. Her visa not clearing after she successfully auditioned Season 5. Now she’s married and has a green card. She’s pretty good, but overrated. Her semi-professional status and negative initial buzz could hurt her. The judges love her. Paula tells the other contestants they should be scared of her.
Michael Johns 28, Los Angeles, CA auditioned in San Diego – “Light my Fire” – This guy has really got–something. I couldn’t care less if he’s a song stealer, he’s compelling. I love the raspy, mature quality of his voice. He makes the other rockers seem like boylets. He’s very comfortable performing on stage.
David Cook 25, Blue Springs, MO auditioned in Omaha – “Everything I Do” by Bryan Adams – He plays guitar. He’s got a good range and nice phrasing. The comparisons to Daughtry the producers keep shoving down our throats could bite him in the ass. Simon doesn’t like him, but Paula and Randy fast track him.
Robbie Carrico – “Everying I do” Robbie and David Cook are interchangeable.
Colton Berry 17, Staunton, VA. He’s got a pleasant enough voice. I smell cannon fodder.
Not fast tracked:
Jessica Brown 24 Longview, TX auditioned in Dallas. – Jessica is the former crack-ho. I thought she sounded pretty good, but she’s cut.
Perrie Cataldo 27, Phoenix AZ – Auditioned in San Diego – He’s the single father with an arrest record and a dead wife. His little boy is adorable. He’s got a decent voice, but a corny presentation.
Syesha Marcado 20, Miami, FL – auditioned in Miami – Syesha hasn’t had a good audition yet. There’s lots of screaming on the top notes. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt in Hollywood–she’s losing her voice.
Kyle Ensley 21 – Auditioned in Dallas – “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” – If he coulda pulled it off, this could have been cheesy fun. But alas, his singing is not good. Simon hated it. Just to poke Simon, Paula starts one of her long winded critiques about “amazing spirit” and what not. Simon leaves in disgust. It’s pretty funny. Kyle is an appealing dorkster. If he makes it through, he could be the next Sanjaya.
The 48 “fast-tracked” auditioners get to hang out. The other 116 have to audition again.
Last year, there were shocking boots in the first 5 minutes of the Hollywood episode. This year it takes 3 days to get to the serious slashing and burning.
Here’s the drill: Ten contestants are lined up in a row. They each sing a’cappella.
As in prior Hollywood Rounds, the judges ask people to move to the front, and cut either the front or back line.
Suzanne Toon 21, Clearwater FL auditioned in Miami. She’s a single mother who gave up her dreams of a singing career when she got pregnant at 17. Perrie Cataldo, is the single dad. They are both cut.
Amy Flynn 16, Knoxville, TN auditioned in Charleston, SC – “Love Will Bring You Back”. She’s the annoying teen dance captain who teaches abstinence in her spare time. She has a voice coach with her who was a Hollywood contestant during Season 4. Amy sings a song she’s never heard before, and it shows. She’s cut.
Kayla Hatfield 24 Campbell TX auditioned in Dallas – She’s the girl who was maimed in an accident. Angelica Puente 17, Kenosha, WI auditioned in Omaha, was on the outs with her dad. Both are cut. Matt Sato, the contestant from last year with Mommy issues is cut.
Kristy Lee Cook 23, Selma OR, auditioned in Philly. She got cut in the first round, but is back singing what got her through in the first place, “Amazing Grace”. Can she sing anything else?
Jeffrey Lampkin 24, Newberry SC auditioned in Charleston SC- his sister Michelle Lampkin was eliminated in the morning. Angela Martin, 26 Chicago, IL, auditioned in Philly. She has a sick daughter with Rhett’s syndrome. To make matters worse, her father was recently killed.
Jeffrey is put through, Angela is sent home.
One-hundred people are cut on Day 3.
The remaining contestants sing with a small band and background vocalists. At this point, they either get cut or make it into the Top 50.
David Archuleta 17, auditioned in San Diego – “Heaven” by Bryan Adams – He’s better than he was initially, I think. Randy goes crazy “And you’re only 16!” Shades of Jordin Sparks. Hopefully that phrase won’t be the new mantra. The judges love him. He advances.
Kyle Ensley – “You Raise Me Up” 21 – Auditioned in Dallas – It’s like a different person singing. Josh Grobany ballads are his thing, apparently. It may be his only thing, unfortunately. Simon apologizes to him for stomping out the other day. Apologizes! Kyle advances.
Jeffrey Lampkin 24, Newberry SC – “A Whole New World” – He totally chokes and is cut.
Joey Catalano 19, Mays Landing, NJ, auditioned in Philly. He’s the kid who lost 100 pounds. Unfortunately for him, he had a migraine. His “Rhythm in the Sky” is not bad considering how sick he is. He’s cut.
Syesha Marcado 20, Miami, FL – “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin – Finally a decent performance from Syesha. She advances.
Michael Johns -28, Los Angeles, CA auditioned in San Diego -“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen – Hard song–great audition. Simon says it’s the best audition of the day.
Carly Smithson – Auditioned in Los Angeles – “Alone” by Heart – Remember when Simon told Carly that her audition wasn’t as good as two years ago? Carly found out she that she was allergic to her dog. She says that’s why her audition wasn’t as good as before. I can’t tell the difference. She advances.
Asia’H Epperson 18, Joplin MO auditioned in Atlanta – Her initial audition was two days after her father was killed in a car accident. The audition is rough. Months later, she’s much improved. In many ways, I imagine. Simon is really impressed. She advances.
Brooke Helvie 18 Wellington, FL – Auditioned in Atlanta – “Unchained Melody” – She’s the South Florida Fair beauty queen. She blows Simon’s favorite song on the high note. Simon says yes. Randy says no. Paula is on the fence…and she shuts her down. Brooke sobs, “It’s not fair…”
Josiah Leming – 18 Morristown, TN – Auditioned in Atlanta – “Stand by Me” – Holy crap. The drama. Josiah is unable to work with the vocal coach or the band. Debra Byrd tries to help him but she’s firm. When it’s time to audition, he kicks the band off the stage and sings a’cappella with close to no rehearsal. It’s pretty much a trainwreck. Simon says, “It just exposed you.” Josiah is awesome, but there is no way he’d be able to hold up under the pressure. But, he advances anyway.
Hollywood is over. The kids pack up and leave. We hear the brand-new smell-ya-later song, “Hollywood is Not America”.
Wednesday, The top 50 are whittled down to the Top 24…
And then the fun begins.