American Idol: Hollywood Week Returns

Hollywood Week began last night on “American Idol,” and they are definitely changing things up this season. For one, by tonight, if someone sucked on their initial Hollywood audition, they would be given a second chance a few days later. Secondly, we went from 164 contestants down to 50 after some brutal, immediate eliminations. Thirdly, no group performances. Fourthly, they could play an instrument while performing. And finally, we will have our 24 finalists by tonight. Geez, that was fast.

Anyway, in making short work of Hollywood Week, we were asked to give Fox an extra hour of our day, as it was a 2-hour episode, and tonight we go back to one hour. I’m not complaining, only telling you that there is a lot to summarize in short space here. So I’ll do it by telling you who looked great, who looked mediocre and who sucked and went home. Here we go….

Absolute finalists:

David Hernandez—I don’t remember this guy from the initial rounds, but he sang “Love the One You’re With,” with a really cool arrangement to boot. He was really, really good and I would definitely peg him as top 24 material.

Amanda Obermeyer, the biker nurse, threw another twist in when she admitted to being in a really bad car accident a few weeks before Hollywood Week. She looked fine, and sang even better. I mean, holy crap. She is like a Janis Joplin throwback for sure, and she can back it up with monster pipes. Definitely top 24, if not top 12. Simon loved her but said that Amanda needs to be careful that her throwback rocker thing doesn’t become monotonous.

Danny Noriega again blew the judges away and should sail through.

Carly Smithson, the one with the tattoos all up and down her right arm, was pretty good but shouty in the first audition, but later on in the show took on Heart’s “Alone,” and hit a grand slam about as far as you can hit one. Just when you thought her voice was going to get shaky, Carly took it up a notch. Keep an eye on her too.

Michael Johns, the dude from Australia who now lives in Georgia, again gave some stellar performances. He even took on “Bohemian Rhapsody” for his final audition and it really kicked ass.

Syesha, who was sick with some sort of cold and was losing her voice in the initial audition of the week, got better and in a hurry. Not only that, Syesha gave a “sick” vocal performance the second time around, and by that I do mean awesome. I would even go on a limb here and say she might be top 5.

Asia Epperson, the one who had lost her dad two days before her first round audition, was really good, and Simon even called her “terrific.”

David Archuleta, who is only 16, has an incredible natural voice and an innocence that could carry him pretty far. Keep an eye on him…he’s like Kevin Covais without the lisp, and with a far better voice.

Possible finalists:

Among the ones who made it through to tonight but may or may not make it to tomorrow…

Brooke from the Philly auditions, who sang Carole King’s “Beautiful” while playing piano. Brooke was really good, but to me was just ever so slightly boring in her delivery. I’m just not 100% sure she’s got finalist written on her.

Josiah, the dude who lives in his car, gave a weird, falsetto laced, fake British accent performance while playing piano in his first audition, and I thought it kind of sucked. Strangely, though, all three judges were impressed enough to bring the kid back. Then on his next audition, he told the band to take the night off, taking a big risk by singing solo on the big stage. And while the judges made reference to the kid’s gigantic balls, they thought he regressed in his performance. Josiah lived another day, but I think there’s no way he makes it through to the finals.

David Cook, the rocker dude from Missouri, sang Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do,” (we heard this song a lot as it was one of a handful of songs they could perform, and BLECH), and while it was okay, the kid was straining. I see a possible exit tonight for Mr. Cook, but I’m sure he’s great fronting his band back home.

Kyle, the politician from Texas who looks like a cross between Buddy Holly and a young Howard Stern, was all over the place and awkward in his first audition, but really delivered a few days later. I’ll admit he has a chance to reach the finals, even though he sang a Josh Groban song (again, BLECH).

Kristy Lee Cook, the farm girl from Oregon, has a really nice, old school Patsy Cline thing going on, but I’m not convinced she’s star material just yet.

Sent home:

Amy Flynn, the 16-year-old from Knoxville who was preaching abstinence in her first round audition, just couldn’t keep her voice on key on two tries in Hollywood. She’s young though, and nmay be back next year.

Jake Mellema, who played the drums while singing a horrible song choice of “Hooked on a Feeling,” was pretty much awful. Randy appropriately described it as “karaoke.”

Buck Smith and Cardin McKinney both completely messed up by forgetting lyrics. Bad, bad, bad.

Ghaleb, the Venezuelan dude who Paula was drooling over in Miami, was wooing ladies left and right before his audition. And while he was great in Miami, he pretty much sucked in Hollywood.

Brooke, the giddy blonde girl, was all over the place, but Simon said yes strictly based on her looks. For that, I wanted to punch him….seriously, because she was not a good singer at all. Mercifully, Randy and Paula both said no.

Joey Catalano sang Stevie’s “Ribbon in the Sky,” and while I thought he was great, the judges did not and sent him home. What do I know?

Jeffrey Lampkin, who oddly made it through to a final Hollywood audition, was all over the place the last time, and was sent home. Thankfully, because I could not bear to watch his large frame jumping up and down anymore.

A few other sad stories that were sent home….Suzanne and Perrie, both single parents who were trying to make a better life for their kids; Kayla Hatfield, the one who survived a horrible car accident a few years back; Angelica Puente, who made peace with her dad after the Miami auditions; and Angela Martin, the mom from Chicago with the disabled little girl, who just didn’t have quite enough in Hollywood.

So that’s the short version recap, and hopefully it had less fluff than the two-hour episode last night. In fact, I’m sure it had less fluff. Anyway, tonight we get down to the final 24. I’m actually starting to like Hollywood Week. No more stupid group performances, and we’re already getting now to the meat of what “American Idol” is about. Let’s rock…..


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