American Idol 7: Hollywood Week Live Thoughts
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
It's finally here, the Hollywood round of American Idol.  After seeing all the painfully bad performers and a few good ones, tonight we see the best fight for a spot in the top 24.  In addition, we get our first glimpse into the new rules of American Idol as some performers take the stage with their own instruments.  My fingers are crossed for some emotional breakdowns and some alluring hook-ups, and I'll be here all night providing live commentary.  So in the immortal words of Ryan Seacrest: American Idol!

Over a montage of screaming winners, Ryan tells us 164 people will come to Hollywood, but they have no idea what's to come.  The contestants and judges meet up on stage.  After their first performance, they get an instant bye to the final round, or they get a "No" and have a second chance.

Innocent Brooke White from the Philadelphia audition starts, and she's playing the piano while singing Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful."  She's going to the final day after the judges say "Yes," including Paula Abdul, who raises the roof.  Seriously, she totally did.

Then there are some bad singers, including Amy Flynn.  Oh no, the "Whatev" girl, I loved her.  Then Leo Marlowe, the gay guy from the end of Omaha, also sucks.

The judges call some performances torture, and Ryan voiceovers that the torture has yet to begin as we continue a two-hour American Idol episode.  While it's not what he meant, I understood his words to mean that we the viewers will be tortured for two hours by having to watch this.

To help pass the time, I'll be providing real-time Chesapeake Primary updates, because that's what I really care about.  Barack Obama won Virginia handily, and with one-third of the votes in, John McCain has a narrow lead over Mike Huckabee.  More to come.

Now there are some terrible guitarists and keyboardists who don't sing all that well.  Jake Mellema plays the drums.  Simon Cowell is already done with this whole instrument thing.  Randy Jackson, stealing from Simon, calls it karaoke.  They rip this kid to shreds.

David Hernandez had some nerves when he auditioned in San Diego.  He's one of those guys who loves the falsetto a bit too much and likes to put flourishes all over the song.  The judges love every minute of him.  I'll only be on his side if I find out his father is Keith.  Paula says "100 trazillion percent yes."

Virginia is still too close to call for the Republicans.  I don't agree with Huckabee on anything, but I have to support a man who aligns himself with Stephen Colbert AND Chuck Norris.  That is a lethal combination.

Amanda Overmyer from Atlanta is a rock 'n' roll nurse who was in a car accident shortly before coming to Hollywood, and she has staples in her head and several broken ribs.  Why isn't she in a hospital?  She wants somebody to light her fire, a la The Doors.  Randy compares her to Janis Joplin, and the other judges like her too.  Simon wants her to step outside of her rocker chick box, but she goes to the final round.

Now it's time for a montage of people forgetting lyrics.  Cardin McKinney tries to vamp her way through it.  Natasha (or Natalie) Blach just gives up and says nothing.

Ghaleb Emachah, the ridiculous wannabe Casanova from the Miami audition, flirts with countless girls.  His singing is worthy of the reject pile, and the judges need to look deep inside themselves to remember why the heck they let this guy through in the first place.

CNN just projected John McCain as the winner in Virginia.  Too bad, that was Huckabee's best shot tonight.

On the second day of the first round, we revisit the kid who lives in his car, Josiah Leming.  He plays the keyboard and sings Mika's "Grace Kelly."  My best friend absolutely loves that song.  The judges somehow love him and he's through to the final round.   I credit awesome song choice.

Also successful are Danny Noriega, who looks like he belongs in Menudo, Ramiele Malubay, the tattooed Irishwoman Carly Smithson, and Aussie Michael Johns, who still rubs me the wrong way.

No new election results during this commercial, but there was a preview for Kung Fu Panda, which is the ultimate stoner-made movie.  I mean, you know some dude came up with that title when he was stoned, and then the movie just kind of wrote itself.  "Dude, he's like a panda, but...get this...he knows KUNG-FU!"

Back on American Idol, David Cook is in a band back home, and he plays his guitar and sings some Bryan Adams.  I think I understand what the show is doing this year.  Since Chris Daughtry had more success than either of the two finalists that season, they're just looking for band frontmen.  Ryan also brings up the Daughtry connection.

Former boy bander Robbie Carrio also sings Bryan Adams, as do a whole lot of people.  Now all we need is a Celine Dio montage and Canada will forever be dead to me.  The boy bander and some blond kid named Colton Berry win with Bryan Adams, while others fail.

The final performer of day two is Kyle Ensley, the nerdy presidential hopeful.  The performance is a lot like waking up the next morning next to a girl you took home after too many drinks.  Without those beer goggles, she's an uggo through and through.

Washington D.C. and Maryland are still unknown, but Obama has quite a decisive victory in Virginia, and it looks like he'll be winning those delegates by more than 2-1 over Hillary Clinton.  This is why I love the Democratic primaries: it's become nothing but a mathematics game regarding percentages of states and the proportional delegates.

48 singers got to skip round two, and two of them spend their day off doing the Soulja Boy routine on Dance Dance Revolution.  so the 116 others get one last chance.  They sing a few seconds a cappella, then the judges decide if they stay or go.  What, no group sing?!?  This is total bull, because the group performances are the highlight of Hollywood week!

Now it's Amy Flynn's chance, and she brought her vocal coach, someone who's been at Hollywood week in season 4.  I'm rooting for you, Whatev Girl!  And no, she's going home.  The judges are cruel and send a whole lot of people home.  After the first 40 singers, only four make it through.

Hillary Clinton is giving a speech in El Paso, Texas.  She's putting all her eggs in the T.O.P. strategy (Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania).  She needs to win those big, or Obama will be the clear frontrunner going into the convention.  See, you came for the American Idol coverage, but you're getting incisive political commentary!

More people are cut, but because we spent all of the auditions fixated on guys with giant fans, I don't know who any of these people are so I don't care that they're cut.  Then I see a recognizable face with Kristy Lee Cook.  And another, with Jeffrey Lampkin, the fat energetic black guy who auditioned with his sister, who was already eliminated.Then there's Angela Martin, not the one from The Office, but the one with the very sick kid, and now we find out her father was recently killed.  It looks like they saved all the familiar faces for the end.  Angela doesn't make it, but the other two do.  Jeffrey is, obviously, excited.

There are still more than 30 minutes left until this episode ends.  Ryan was right, this is torture.  But it does give me a great idea for a slogan on bumper stickers and novelty t-shirts: "I'd Rather Be Waterboarding."

Simon lays down the law: the great are instantly put through, the worst are cut immediately.  Everyone gets a band and three back-up singers.

David "Vocal Paralysis" Archuleta is up first.  I'm rooting for this kid.  Until he says he's singing "Heaven" by Bryan Adams.  This one episode provides Bryan Adams with more exposure than he's had in the last five years.  Randy calls it the bomb, the best yet in Hollywood.  This kid is going to the top 50!

Kyle Ensley is incomprehensibly still around.  He's singing that stupid Josh Groban song that everyone's aunt loves.  He actually makes it to the top 50.  What the hell is going on?  Jeffrey Lampkin sings "A Whole New World" and gets appropriately cut.  Joey Catalano is cut.  Syesha Mercado's voice is getting worn down, but she pushes through it and gets put through to the top 50.

Aussie Michael Johns is up next.  I realize my hatred for him is completely irrational, but I can't help it.  He dares to sing Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."  I suppose it's good, but I refuse to admit his singing ability out of spite.

Back to politics: after polls were kept open for an extra hour-and-a-half due to the weather, Maryland is finally done, and Obama and McCain are both the projected winners.  They also both take Washington D.C.  Who's the big winner?  Mikey's not the big winner.  Mikey doesn't win.  Tell me, where else will you find a Swingers reference in a political commentary in an American Idol recap?

Irishwoman Carly Smithson is next, whose voice is now better because she discovered she's allergic to her dog.  She's as good as Michael Johns, but I also don't like her.  I'm the Lou Dobbs of American Idol: foreigners need to get out of this competition, because I want an American Idol, not an Australian or Irishwoman.

Asia'h Epperson is great, but I have an issue with punctuation marks in first names.  Brooke Helvie is that annoying beauty queen from the Atlanta auditions.  She screeches, but Simon says yes because she's pretty.  Paula comes to her senses (for once) and says no, so she's gone.

The last kid is Josiah "I Live In My Car" Leming.  He whines about how hard it is, and vocal coach Debra Byrd cheers him up a bit.  On stage, he dismisses the band so he can do it on his own.  He sings "Stand By Me" a cappella in that fake British accent he uses.  It's a bit rough and te judges call him out, but I think it's just a bad song choice.  Simon chastises him, but then admits to feeling bad about being mean to the kid.  But based entirely on past performances, he gets through to the next round.

For reasons beyond understanding, we get a montage of the episode we just saw.  This does not bode well for the kind of filler we'll be seeing in those hour-long results episodes.  Tomorrow night at 8pm, the top 50 will be more than halved into the official top 24 who will sing for your votes next week.

-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of FOX)