The pressure of Hollywood Week is a glorious thing to behold.
Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC
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Friends! We have done it! We have wandered through the desert that is American Idol auditions and have finally made it to Hollywood Week. Now it really starts to get interesting: 169 hopefuls have arrived in sunny La-La Land all with the same dream. All but 24 will have those dreams crushed over the next few days. Fun!

We’ve been through the drill 15 times, but in case you’re a newbie or need a refresher, Hollywood Week consists of several rounds: First up, Lines of Ten. Each contestant will sing for the judges, and after every 10, they’ll parade them out on stage, split them into a front row and back row, and cut one of those rows. Basically, look around at your row and make sure you’re with some ringers. After Lines of Ten, we get into the dreaded Group Round, or: Let’s pull an all-nighter and make people cry! After those cuts are made, there is the Solos Round, and we’ll end up with just 24 contestant remaining. Intense, right?

Let’s dive into Lines of Ten.

The first line has several of the contestants featured during auditions, including Layla Springs. You may not remember Layla’s singing, but you probably remember her almost unbelievably cute little sister named Dyxie. Dyxie is blown away by all the palm trees in Los Angeles. See? So cute. Also in Layla’s line is Alyssa Raghu, who is 15 but sounds like she’s lived several lives, and her best friend is her dad. She hits the Dad BFF thing pretty hard while crying during “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Layla and Alyssa are joined by renowned goat farmer Trevor McBane, still committed to the Man in Black getup (not Men in Black, which would also be welcomed) and still rocking that gravelly voice. Caleb Lee Hutchinson is there too, and he is so good that Luke’s worried he may have met his competition. All four of these hopefuls make it through the first round. Their dreams survive another day!

The second line of ten includes Noah “Wig” Davis, still killing it on the mic, still not an alpaca owner. For some added drama, both Milo and Julian Sposato are in this line. You know Idol loves pitting siblings against each other. Milo is clearly better in his audition, right? The judges think so too, and only Milo is joining Noah in the group rounds. Way to divide families, Idol.

Julian isn’t the only familiar face headed home. Kenedee Rittenhouse isn’t as lucky as her idol Carrie Underwood is, and neither is Joshua Ward or Kristyn Harris. Dreams are being crushed by the second, you guys.

Before things get too morose, let’s welcome back the clear star of these early rounds, Catie Turner. Catie is living her best life, always…and especially in Hollywood. Not only is she just having a great time, she is loving all the cute boys in her vicinity. She’s especially enamored with good ol’ Zach D’Onofrio, the teen with the incredibly low crooner voice. They have some very forced awkward interactions on the street before they head into their Line of Ten. Catie jams to The Beatles “Come Together” and the crowd loves it. Unfortunately, Zach gets cut and we miss out on possibly the greatest love story in Idol history. You guys, nerd love is pure love! In better news, some other familiar faces join Catie: Victoria McQueen (the Idol baby) and Brandon Elder (he auditioned with an original he wrote about his late adoptive mother) are both in Catie’s row and make it on through to Groups.

The next line includes standouts Maddie Poppe and Cade Foehner, who both bring it. And by it, I mean their gorgeous, raspy voices. They sail on through as well. (Recap continues on page 2)

Speaking of bringing it, in the next group is Jonny Brenns — the cute kid who auditioned without telling his family, who are unaware of his artistic talents. They are unaware no more! Both Jonny’s mother and sister travel to Los Angeles with Jonny, ready to see him unleash his talent. Noticeably missing is Jonny’s dad. Oh, Jonny, hasn’t anyone told you that you don’t worry about the people who don’t show up? Anyway, he crushes it. Everybody else in Jonny’s Line of Ten wants to be in whichever row Jonny is because there’s no way he isn’t going through after blowing the judges away with his rendition of 1975’s “Somebody Else.” He and seven others in his group move on.

Jonny isn’t the only audition standout moving forward: Jurnee, whose wife is being deployed as we speak, Dennis Lorenzo, the Philly native trying to do right by his new wife and their child, and Trevor Holmes, the construction worker who gives Katy Perry the love sweats, easily move on to the next round. Jurnee calls her wife in tears. Lorenzo does back flips. Trevor makes sure his girlfriend hasn’t dumped him yet. Everyone celebrates in their own way!

One surprise cut from Line of Ten is David Francisco. In his audition, he moved everyone, including Katy’s dog Nugget probably, to tears after learning that he moved to Nashville to chase his dream, only to, three weeks later, be hit by a car and paralyzed. Unfortunately, his rendition of “Sunday Morning” is not strong enough to compete with the immense talent in Hollywood. David’s been through a lot though, so he knows better than anyone that this isn’t the end.

It is, however, the end of Lines of Ten. And after surviving the first day of competition, the weary souls who made it through have to muster up all their energy and prepare for The Group Round. Isn’t this all so dramatic and wonderful?

Honestly though, isn’t this the least dramatic Group Round in history? Sure, people are exhausted and forgetting lyrics, but there was only one Mama Bear marking her territory, which led to one minor dramatic moment that wasn’t even that dramatic. What are we even watching? The Great British Baking Show? (Just kidding, I wish)

The first group up is God’s Diversity, which is definitely a name. They sing “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit and end the song all huddled in front of the judges’ table. It is excellent. Four of the five members, Michael J. Woodward, Thaddeus Johnson, Shannon O’Hara, and Kourtney Smith, all move on to Solos. You knew the fifth member was not going through because Idol doesn’t even give her a lower third with her name. Way harsh, Idol.

The Gurope (why do they let them name themselves again?) consists of Marcio Donaldson, Samuel James, Maddie Zahn, and Cesley Parrish. They’re singing “Stayin’ Alive,” but none of them can remember the lyrics. It is a mess. On stage, Marcio holds his own and Maddie Zahn wins the judges over by making up her own lyrics and singing them with confidence. The only one not making it through is Samuel. Made up lyrics are always better than no lyrics!

And now TACO! (this is why they let them name themselves) takes the stage. I’ll give you one guess as to which little ray of sunshine is a member of this group. Did you say Catie Turner? Great! You’ve been paying attention. Catie is joined by Alyssa Rahgu, Victoria McQueen, and Kyah Robinson. The four girls sing a great version of “La La La” and all but Kyah are sent through. The biggest news of all: Catie Turner beatboxes. What is this wonderful world? (Recap continues on page 3)

Not everyone is as lucky as Catie, Alyssa, and Victoria though. We learn hopefuls Johnny White, Rissa Watson, and Samuel Swanson are all cut. Hollywood Week is brutal, we all know this.

The aforementioned Mama Bear belongs to Mr. Milo Sposato. With one son knocked out, she is not messing around. Milo joins his group, Superdope Hotness, late, and his mother isn’t impressed with their choice of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.” There’s a whole bunch of editing to make this look like Milo changes the arrangement last minute, but honestly, the group — which also consists of Anamé Rose, Deonte Baker (so good!), Dennis Lorenzo (SO GOOD), and William Casanova — seem pretty prepared for Milo’s a capella verse. All the drama is a non-starter and the entire group gets the thumbs up to move on.

We get a quick look at a whole mess of other great groups: Ada Vox (also a beatboxer, PRAISE) and Kay Kay lead their group, DNA, into Solos. Gabby Barrett and Christina Jones sing Jessie J’s “Domino” and make it through. And Jurnee and Dominique get a pass after singing in the same group, which honestly seems unfair to every other group.

Jurnee and Dominique’s group performed Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” which is getting a lot of play in Group Round, including, much to his dismay, Laine Hardy‘s group. Laine is a salt-of-the-earth country boy, but he’s in an all-girl, all-Bieleber group (Kaitlann Runnels, Mia Dearis, and Juliana Madrid). Laine probably doesn’t know what a Bieleber is, and the rest of us are jealous of that. Never change, Laine. The kid has a tough time remembering the lyrics and definitely was not born to dance. Somehow, Laine (and Kaitlann) makes it through! Maybe he will be a Bieleber after all? What a plot twist!

The final group of the evening is Don’t Touch, an all-female quartet that includes Crystal Alicea, Lee Vasi, Gabbii Jones, and surprise, surprise, Britney Holmes. Britney is the vocal coach who got cut for not being able to induce chill bumps. She was one of three contestants granted a reprieve by the judges, and she ended up winning this final golden ticket, or whatever. They announced it on Dancing With the Stars in a little synergy ploy this fall. They make almost no mention of this — Idol is really doing Britney wrong, huh?

She doesn’t need any help anyway; she has her groupmates. These girls are lovely and all about supporting one another. Crystal has almost no singing experience and is letting her insecurities get to her — the rest of the group on lifts her up more. They nail “Me and My Broken Heart,” and it seems like they’ll all be selected to continue on UNTIL Katy tells them they only have room for three and one must volunteer as tribute to take the fall. Like Katniss Everdeen before her, Crystal emotionally offers to go. She will give up her dream for the three women who were there for her when she needed them.

Of course this is all a “joke” and all four ladies are going through. Even Luke and Lionel are like, Katy, um, WHAT THE HELL. That was so sad, may we never speak of it again. Group hugs for everyone!

And after that whirlwind trip through two rounds of Hollywood Week, we have the intense Solos Round ahead. Who are you rooting for, gang? Anyone surprise you in Groups? Will you ever get “Love Yourself” out of your head?

Episode Recaps

American Idol

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

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