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February 06, 2014 at 06:29 AM EST

Welcome to sunny California, bright and shiny teens! Your new home is… A CAVERNOUS TOMB.

Wednesday’s “Hollywood or Home” twist round saw the 212 hopefuls ushered into a big ol’ airplane hangar as soon as they landed at LAX. Eww, what a weird-looking hotel, some of them must have thought as the judges sauntered in… with murder in their eyes.

I’ll cut it out with the deathspeak, but that was a crazy-ominous vibe in the hangar of doom, and Keith Urban’s new short, spiky, almost Pete Wentz-ian (how the hell did I even know that) haircut was not helping matters any. Idol has really taken the “toying with the lives of the talented innocent” thing further than ever with this brutal bus stunt. What a great, unprecedented chance to more immediately slash the dreams of 32 kids who probably never should have gotten golden tickets anyway — all the people the judges (or producers) had been on the fence about. Better to cut them here when all they’ve seen of L.A. is the cold grey of a cement floor and the steely blue ice of Harry Connick Jr.’s eyes. If they’d made it to the hotels, they’d have gotten to see… the inside of another hotel conference center multiplex. And then they’d really know what they were missing. A buffet breakfast.

So it’s an early goodbye to Johnny Newcomb, Caitlin Johnson (if you’ve always had really bad stage fright, what makes you think you’d do well on American Idol?), Nikki McKibbin’s son Tristen Langley, Rich Lafleur, fake accent girl Khristian d’Avis, and many others. Somehow the annoying sound healer Adam Locke got onto lucky Bus No. 2 even though his piano-playing was “so excruciating” according to Keith. ‘Twas a stressful time for all. Adam retreated to a distant corner to meditate all alone, and for the camera. A lot of people choked, giving Harry Connick Jr. the opportunity to channel his inner Valerie Cherish:

This is totally my go-to screen grab for the rest of the season, so I hope you like it.

Here is a really handy YouTube grid of all the Hollywood Hopefuls, by the way. I’ll have to dig into that later. Tons of hidden gems.

Cool new people: Connor Zwetsch, 20, charmed everyone but Harry at the Atlanta auditions with her rainbow airbrushed hat; she toned the headwear down to a blue printed headband for Hollywood and set herself further apart with a hippie-fied (I don’t even know what that means, but she’s a hippie) rendition of “Let Her Go” — a bold song choice for someone who wants to stay. Like he had in the deep South, Harry questioned her voice but “actually dug the way she played guitar.” I’m just glad we saw her at all. I also dug Ali Jane Henderson, whose clear and powerful voice alternated between soft and hard on her acoustic cover of “Toxic.” So many toxic teens out there! Is this, like, the first song you learn when you get an acoustic guitar these days? Anyway, Ali Jane looks like Maddie from Nashville (Lennon Stella) in the face, or maybe I was just excited for Nashville to start.

The shot of the “Departing Flights” sign for the poor rejects in Bus No. 1 was the most tragic moment of this Mystery Bus scene for me. That’s usually such a happy sign. You’re really goin’ somewhere! it usually means. But nope. You’re going back to your boring old life, it said this time. And good luck finding your checked luggage.

NEXT PAGE: Apparently a boy is not allowed to pretend he’s not already a boy

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Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.
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