After seven episodes of hearing the good, the bad, and the truly awful, we enter the second phase of “American Idol“. Hollywood Week is by and far my favorite part of the audition process. In past years, the producers have skimmed through this portion and it always left me with wanting more. Even though tonight’s episode was only an hour and covered the first two days of competition in Hollywood (actually it was Pasadena), it was very well-paced and covered quite a lot.
Surprisingly, the episode followed up with plenty of the contestants we’ve gotten to known through the auditions. This year, over 327 singers received golden tickets, doubling the amount they normally grant. Will more contestants mean, more drama and tears. I surely hope so. By the end of the episode, over half of them didn’t survive the sudden death solo rounds. Check below to see, which early favorites fizzled and which continued to sizzle.
Brett Loewenstern (16)
Talk about being the producer favorite. Not only was he the one to kick things off, but he got massive airtime. Just in case you forgot, he was the object of high school bullying. It truly does get better. Once again he impresses. Soulful, a bit raspy and tons of attitude. Love this kid. Watch it here.
Rachel Zevita (23), Thia Megia (15), Casey Abrams (19)
All three are shown in a montage with all three advancing. Rachel did way better than her audition this year. Girl put it together. Now I remember why I loved her so much when she tried out years ago. Thia also wowed me. Her voice is much stronger than I remembered. Hopefully she won’t choke like other Asian girls who have preceded her. Both Jasmine (Season 3) and Ramiele (Season 7) impressed early, only to choke when they hit the main stage. I’m so tired of “Summertime”. Producers really need to ban that song, it belongs to Fantasia. Casey is someone who can do really well in this competition. I love his energy when he belts out a song. And it’s always pitch perfect too. This guy is crazy good. A much cooler (and better) version of Taylor “Soul Patrol” Hicks. Watch all three here.
Victoria Huggins (16)
You might remember her as the annoying Southern belle who begged to get a golden ticket. Even though I’m sure it wasn’t the same scene, I love how the producers showed the audience looking bored to death during Victoria’s performance. Good riddance to you, your creepy stage mom and 11 pieces of luggage. North Carolina can keep your ass. To be fair, she has a decent voice, but she’s just too annoyingly perky. Watch her here.
James Durbin (21), Paris Tassin (23), Stormi Henley (20), Lauren Alaina (15)
The more I see Tourettes/Aspergers, the less he reminds me of Adam Lambert. Instead, James is the male version of Siobhan Magnus (Season 9). All over the place, and ends his song with his signature howl/screech. He really needs to tone it down. Forgot all about Paris. Her rendition of Celine’s Titanic classic started off well, but then went off course. Stormi, who I complained about getting a golden ticket, didn’t impress. It didn’t help she followed strong vocalists in James and Lauren. At least in her exit interview, she wasn’t delusional and admitted her voice wasn’t unique nor strong enough. She has beauty and brains. Love, love, love Lauren. At 15, girl has stage presence, nerves and a voice like no other. Another early favorite. Watch all four here.
Chris Medina (27)
Not as impressive as his headline-making audition in Milwaukee. To make sure we’re still on his side, Idol producers & Steven Tyler quickly reminded us of his heart-wrenching backstory. Watch his a’ight performance here.
Jaycee Badeaux (15), Robbie Rosen (16), Hollie Cavanaugh (17)
As some of the older competitors were choking, we’re shown a trio of teenagers who showed no signs of nerves. Jaycee, the chubby kid, wasn’t as strong this go round but I still like him. I fear the competition might get too cutthroat for this sweet little kid. Robbie, who’s the least favorite of the teenagers, did a fantastic job on an old jazz standard. Once again his falsetto is flawless, but for some reason, I just don’t connect with this kid. Ironically enough, Hollie who was all nerves during her initial audition, seemed quite confident and owned the stage like a pro. She really moved up on my list of favorites. Go Hollie with an “ie”. Watch the teens tear it up here.
Steven Beghun (27)
Why this boring accountant got his own segment is beyond me? Snoooooooooooore. Joining him crying down the aisles are Sarah Sellers, Jacqueline Dupree and Heidi Kazam (belly dancer). Unlike them, I’m not shedding any tears for their elimination. Instead I want to throw a parade. Check out Steven’s performance here.
Rob Bolin (23) & Chelsee Oaks (23) – The Exes; Nick Fink (19) & Jacqueline Dunford (22) – The Idol Couple
One of these two couples will get split up… but who? First up are Rob and Chelsee. Rob’s still in love with her, and uses that inner turmoil to give a heartfelt bluesy performance. Chelsee also delivers a bang on vocal. Deservedly, both advance. Next up are Nick (you’re gay and don’t know it) and Jacqueline. Nick gives a subpar uninspired performance, while Jacqueline doesn’t waste her shot and belts out a winner. Judges give Jacqueline a go, but Nick a “no”. But instead of going away quietly, Nick pleads and begs the judges for another chance. He even starts singing while he exits the auditorium. Total loser. Has he not watched this show? No one who begs for another chance during Hollywood ever gets another chance. Instead, they all come off as lame asses. Watch the couples segment here
Scotty McCreery (17), Jackie Wilson (28), Jerome Bell (27)
Country crooner twangs a solid performance, as do Jackie and Jerome. I really like all three, but nothing annoys me more than contestants who sing the same song during Hollywood week as in their initial auditions. Not only is it lazy, but it’s annoying as f*ck. Watch all three here
Tiffany Rios (21), Travis Orlando (17)
The last two on the docket are two completely different contestants. Travis is extremely likable, while Tiffany is not. Tiffany is the one who put “jujubees on your oohoohbees” during her audition. She was another one I couldn’t believe got a golden ticket. Before she sang her solo, chick gave one of the most obnoxious speeches in Idol Hollywood history. Then she follows that up with a screechy wailing performance. Surprisingly, she makes it. Boo. The only decision I disagreed with all night long. Next up is homeless cutie, Travis. I really wanted him to do well, but he kinda choked. Hopefully, he’ll work on his craft and come back next year. Watch all three here
Other early favorites making it to the next round were Clint Gamboa, Julie Zorrilla, Naima Adedapo, the Gutierrez brothers, Paul McDonald, Emily Ann Reed, Stefano Langone and Ashley Sullivan. Check them out here
After all was said in done, Brett Lowenstern, Hollie Cavanaugh, Casey Abrams, Thia Megia and Lauren Alaina were my five standouts from days 1&2 from Hollywood week. Hopefully they make it out of the group round unscathed. Who were your favorites tonight? Post them all below. With still 168 contenders left, I expect a massacre during the next round. Let the drama begin. Damn, I love group round of Hollywood Week.