Audition favorites make it to Hollywood for Idol's most brutal week.
Looks like we’ve made it. We’re in Hollywood. Is everyone ready? Fearful? Already exhausted? Anticipating multiple medical emergencies? I love Hollywood Week, it’s SO SCARY. Anything could happen, really. Our 200 or so contestants are going to be cut down to a tidy 24. So, slaughter. Here. We. Go.
J.Lo’s outfit is ON POINT today, just saying.
The judges immediately put a few contestants on the spot at the Orpheum Theater. Ryan tells us they’re asking to see the most memorable kids, which is a good thing, but the kids don’t know that! Yikes, scary. So Jax, from the New York auditions (and one of the names we wrote down, remember?) is up first. She’s not as glittery as she was when we first met her, which is fantastic news.
Jax hops on the piano and breaks into an artsy version of Britney’s “Toxic.” As previously mentioned, I will never tire of this kind of performance. Jax is still fab. J.Lo agrees.
Mark Andrew (we also wrote his name down), Emily Brooke, uber-New Yorker Sal, and toy designer Adam Ezegelian all get their time on stage. Shockingly, no one cracks under the pressure. Adam runs into a serious case of the nerves, but he holds his own. It’s not a deal breaker.
While these folks are being called up, they’re getting no feedback. And neither are we, really. We don’t know if they’re going to cut people, keep people, send people into space—nothing. It’s brutal.
Our girl Tyanna Jones, whom we met just last Thursday, sings a snappy little jam, and her stage presence is fully intact. She and her purple hair are endlessly entertaining. It’s always fascinating to see the contestants hear one another sing for the first time—it’s easy to expect jealousy and angst, but when someone is good, there’s nothing but admiration on the faces of the audience. It’s really heartwarming. And the faces when Tyanna was singing? Smitten.
Savion Wright, one of our early favorites, sings “Get Lucky,” which, I hate to say, hurts my ears a little. But his peers loved it. Hollywood Anderson is another of our faves from New York. (I don’t remember the producers showing us all the memorable favorites right away in years past, but gotta say, it’s a smart move.) Hollywood sings “Someone Like You” in completely unrecognizable, weird, jazzy, super slow form—I honestly had to rewind three times before I knew what the hell he was performing. His voice sounded great, but the whole bit was lost on the judges, who are getting bummed that everyone seems nervous. Honestly, Keith, I appreciate your “Loosen up, mates!” sentiment, but are you aware of what these kids are up against? Of COURSE they’re nervous. Give them one tiny sliver of a break.
NEXT: Our very first panic attack.
Shannon Berthiaume, that amazing 17-year-old who had “never performed in front of anyone before,” calmly takes the stage and begins to deliver an annoyingly perfect audition—but the nerves get her. She trips up, regains a bit of her composure, but ultimately has lost it. Her cool, unflappable Kristen Stewart demeanor is shaken. Though still, her talent is cray.
Adam Lasher, another noted Post-it contestant (the rock ‘n’ roll Jimmy Fallon look-alike) is not only wearing the best salmon-colored denim jacket I’ve ever seen, but also gives one hell of a performance. Harry thinks, “He’s a superstar.” He’s definitely got the rock star vibe, but in a much more authentic way than, say, David Cook or Chris Daughtry. Actually, that’s not fair. Those guys were both pretty raw and cool-seeming when we first met them, before they got American-Idol famous and became artists that my mom likes. But they have boatloads of money and record sales, so I’m sure Adam would be fine with the comparison.
Garret Miles, our incredibly polite and charming (and blind) contestant sings a sweet and strong “To Make You Feel My Love,” and gets a standing ovation from most of his peers. The judges are pleased. Aspiring Bill Nye and Buddy Holly look-alike Trevor Douglas (yep, loved him, too) sings a surprisingly powerful “I See Fire,” and J. Lo basically loses it. So many good people. This is a great Hollywood Week introduction, but my god, they’ve got their work cut out for them.
Day one, and it’s time for our first panic attack, Idol fans. Amber Kelechi, from the Nashville auditions, is so nervous. And as she tells us, it’s because she’s got a lot riding on this—she wants a new life, and she wants a new life for her family. This 16-year-old has put the weight of the world on her shoulders. I want to hug her. But she pulls herself together, and sings “Radioactive,” accompanied by some jumpy brand of body percussion, which was bold and kind of badass. Her voice wasn’t flawless, but she’s got character and presence.
All the folks who sang today are reassembled on the stage—38 in total—and told that they were asked to sing because they were among the most memorable. That’s nice to hear, but that ain’t saving anyone from going home, J.Lo says. Except, JUST KIDDING, everyone is going through to the next round. Honestly, judges. MAKE SOME DECISIONS. This is incredibly annoying to me. I’m annoyed. So no one goes home on day 1. Hollywood Week is a breeze this season?
NEXT: Big Sexy returns.
No way in hell. On day 2, half of the contestants will be sent home. God, that is frightening.
Time for Idol’s favorite tricky audition format: line a bunch of kids up, let them sing for 20 seconds, then once everyone has gone, tell some to step back, some to step forward. Which group will be sent home? We NEVER know. Tricky tricky.
In the first line of brutality is Jaq Mackenzie, who I didn’t think should go through when she auditioned initially. She says her grandparents, who once danced on this very stage as Vaudeville performers, are dancing all around her in spirit. She also says that she’s the next American Idol just because, well, she is! Great way to make friends, Jaq. But, after hearing her sing “Cool Kids,” I’m totally on board with her. Way better than in her initial audition, and she has stage presence for days.
Who’s cut from this first group? Unless I’m mistaken, no one we were rooting for in a big way. Lots of tears here, lots of pretty, talented people with shattered dreams. Oh god, it was one of their birthdays! “What a terrible birthday present,” she weeps. Not the way to start your year.
A couple of the men who have hit on J.Lo in the most inappropriate ways are up next: Michael Simeon (prom dance), and Big Sexy Ron (needs no explanation). Michael is totally fine, but Big Sexy KILLS it. He just loses himself in the music while he auditions, and it’s honestly superb. Brings tears to J.Lo’s eyes (and a couple to mine). They both go through, though we do lose Jerry Lee Lewis imitator Jacob Tolliver, which bums me out a little.
Gabby Zonneveld (have we met her before?) sings “Bottom of the River” and starts off so strong and just totally loses her words. This is actually hard to watch, she is just having an absolute panic attack on this stage. She needs a hug, some water, maybe a Xanax. Cliffhanger! We won’t find out what happens till tomorrow. Bold move, Idol.
How are we feeling about tonight, guys? It went way better than I expected! I recognize that I’m a roller coaster of emotion about this show, but I’m feeling good. Let me know who you loved, who you hated, who should have gone home. (Surely there’s at least ONE person from that pack of 38 that is undeserving.) See you all in 24 hours.