Former frontrunners fall prey to Idol's most notorious hurdle: Hollywood Week

By Justin Kirkland
January 28, 2016 at 03:05 AM EST
Michael Becker/Fox

Oh, Ryan Seacrest. Can you imagine a world without Ryan Seacrest? I don’t ever want to. Mr. Charisma himself takes on the intro of American Idol this week by walking up through what it takes to become an Idol. It starts with the audition: easy. Getting a golden ticket: difficult. Hollywood week? A BLOODBATH LIKE YOU’VE NOT SEEN ON TELEVISION BEFORE. Okay, maybe that’s a little intense. But the thing is, Hollywood Week is known for being insanely crazy and difficult. And that’s not even counting how crazy it was for Jeneve to ride in a plane with three seats on either side. That’s just bonus crazy! Y’all, if this is your first season of American Idol, welcome, because Hollywood Week takes absolutely no prisoners.

This episode we start with lines of 10, narrowing the groups down from there. Jordan Sasser, a.k.a. Man Bun, lets us know that since getting his golden ticket, his wife, Alex, has pretty much forgiven him. That’s nice, but a little unbelievable because she was WAY mad. Anyway, he chooses Tori Kelly’s “Should’ve Been Us,” which in my mind is a song that should only be tackled by Tori Kelly and me, specifically when I’m in the shower. He has a decent performance, but it was a little shouty. Dalton Rapattoni is also in the opening line. He’s your typical Billie Joe Armstrong dreamboat, but also so much more. He does a great rendition of “California Dreamin’.” Jaci Butler follows with “Centuries,” which might be the shortest Fall Out Boy song title ever. It suits her voice. Fun fact: Dalton and Jaci have had a rivalry for 10 years. Can you believe it? They’ll continue their rivalry along with Jordan, because they all make it through.

Jenn Blosil sings “Brother,” at her piano, dominating the song, while continuing to be the interesting and cool girl you meet at your hipster friend’s tea and wine tasting. Thomas Stringfellow tackles “Too Close” by Alex Clare, and Olivia Rox takes on “Genie in a Bottle,” which is sacred Christina ground, but I can let it pass. The judges put all three of them through as well. But then Idol flashes back and introduces us to the “overwhelming number of ladies” in the competition, and you know that has to mean that some women are about to meet their proverbial Idol-maker. Jessica Cabral, a worship leader (does it seem like there’s a lot of those this year?) sings “Photograph,” and then Melanie Tierce tackles Kelly Clarkson’s “Invincible.” But the standout is Sonika Vaid, singing Ariana Grande’s “Almost is Never Enough.” For the first time in the episode, we see a split among our standouts. Melanie, who was once labeled by Harry as this year’s winner, is called forward and then promptly dismissed.

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But we must move forward. Unfortunately, we’re at a crossroads because La’Porsha Renae is up next, and if she doesn’t pass through this round, I’m going to throw my computer through my TV effectively ending my American Idol watching, as well as this recap. She takes on Katy Perry’s “Roar,” making a newfound classic out of it in a way that KATY COULD ONLY (TEENAGE) DREAM OF. She immediately makes it through, and I’m crying, and La’Porsha’s baby is crying, and you better be crying because she just took you to church and then to a nice Sunday brunch afterward. Can you even imagine roaring like that? I know I can’t.

After that power round, we have a line of guys. They’re not roaring, but they’re spitting some serious game to the ladies. That’s right: The judges have put all our “playas” up in one line. Harrison Cohen goes with “Keep Your Head Up,” while Daniel Farmer takes on “Treasure,” while Manny Torres chooses, “Can’t Feel My Face.” Between the three of them, I guess I’d probably say that Manny is the dreamiest, but that doesn’t particularly mean that he’s going through. Harrison is called forward, but it’s the back row that makes it through. It’s a shame because I didn’t think Harrison was the weakest by any standard. Double shame is that means we’ll get no more creepy grandpa, which is a pretty big letdown.

Lee Jean steps up, and I hold my breath because he’s just an innocent, and I want him to have everything good in the world. Melany Huber only gets highlighted for a single line of “Sweeter” by Gavin DeGraw, but I lose my mind listening to how good she is. And then there’s Shelbie Z, who you comment section warriors very aggressively pointed out was on The Voice. You ruined Shelbie Z for me because following her performance, I just wasn’t enthralled to see her go through. Regardless of my opinion, Melany Huber is called forward and then sent home. The downside is that she was wonderful and I knocked my wine over when she was nixed. The good news is that Lee Jean lives to see another round.

NEXT: I am 16, going on…home

Day one is over, but day two is on the horizon. The judges come out and grace these Idol peasants with their presence and encourage everyone to do their best. It feels sincere.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell steps up, fresh off the grid. She has a sick side ponybraid with a bandana tied inside of it. I’m all about it. What I’m not about is her rendition of “Boondocks.” I maintain that the best part about Jeneve is her wonderful cello playing. But again, my opinion means nothing because Jeneve and that side ponybraid glide right through. Her dad was super pumped, but everyone else’s parents are super nervous. Even Brenda K. Starr, who is mother to Gianna Isabella, the second of the night in my personal top 5. My second favorite part of Gianna is her Jennifer Grey throwback perm. My very favorite part is her rendition of “One Night Only.”

Next up is Tristan McIntosh, who is also in my top 5. Tristan doesn’t mess — she tackles Carrie Underwood’s “Something in the Water.” She pushes the song a little hard in some places, but man… when she hits a note, she really. hits. that. note. Here’s the thing: I think it’s an ambitious idea to take on former Idol winners, but you can’t be shocked when you fall short of Carrie or Fantasia or Kelly. Either way, in a sick twist of fate, Harry brings Gianna forward and then sends her back with Tristan. The back row moves forward. My top 5 remains alive.

But surely someone has to fall. We can’t send everyone through forever. And that’s when we see Kyrsti Jewel and Michelle Marie. They’re both 16 and excitedly arguing about who the bigger Idol fan is. They’ve never met anyone who can name all the winners other than each other, but even though they have a rivalry, they’re like totally besties. Michelle finds out that today is Kyrsti’s birthday, so she rounds up a big birthday cheer for Kyrsti pre-audition. Michelle goes after Kelsea Ballerini’s “Dibs.” Kyrsti follows Michelle, and though both performances were decent, it’s Michelle Marie who moves on. Being a total 16-year-old, Michelle immediately wants to celebrate with Kyrsti, even thought she was eliminated… on her birthday. CAN’T TAKE BESTIES TO THE TOP WITH YOU.

Following Kyrsti’s downfall, we get a montage of fallen contestants. The losses aren’t particularly surprising — it’s mostly contestants who questionably made it through to begin with. But there’s one line left, and it contains my boy Trent Harmon. He’s the only boy who made it into my top 5, but tragedy has struck. He has full blown MONO. But even with mono, Trent chooses Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down,” and I get the full-blown Jennifer Lopez goosies. I would trade my speaking ability to be able to sing like mono-Trent. Miranda “Poh” Scott, who was notable because her sister auditioned last year, dedicated her performance to, wait for it, her sister. Emily Brooke steps up next, no stranger to Hollywood Week. She, ironically, takes on a song by The Voice winner, Cassadee Pope. Jennifer pulls five hopefuls up and tells them they’re going forward. It appears that it’s the end of the road for Emily, Trent, and Poh, but then we learn that Jennifer is actually sending EVERYONE through. OH JEN.

And that’s it for the lines of 10. Next up is the biggest demon of Hollywood Week. Groups. It doesn’t matter if you’re in 7th grade biology or on a big assignment at work or on American Idol — groups are literally the worst. Someone in your group is too demanding or doesn’t do equal work or turns up to your practice with mono (#Pray4Trent). And it’s that kind of drama that keeps us flipping the channel and coming back to American Idol. See you then.