Welcome to Hollywood Week on American Idol
season 13. These two weeks of the year are often quite un-recap-able as
there's so much going on and so many contestants to get through. There
are 212 singers this season who got golden tickets during the auditions,
and more than 85 percent of them will go home empty-handed.
In the first two hours, we see the new Hollywood or Home round followed by the traditional start to Hollywood Week where everyone performs in a line and some go home. And if that's not enough, there's the start of the Group Round.
There's so much insane talent and, just like the auditions, this season focuses almost entirely on the successful singers and pays almost no attention to the failures.
Hollywood or Home
This year American Idol is adding a new round, "Hollywood or Home." It's actually quite similar to past years, only this time the 212 contestants are bussed from the airport to a massive hangar where 52 of them are forced to sing for their lives in front of everyone. If they fail, they will be sent home without ever getting to check into the hotel.
Johnny Newcomb, the raspy, baby-faced Salt Lake City kid is the first to be called and he does a decent job. He's followed by Connor Zwetsch and Ali Jane Henderson, all of whom also play guitar and do a decent job.
They're followed by Caitlin Johnson, singing a cappella, and it's rough. Harry Connick, Jr. calls it a "super-choke." She's followed by more a cappella singers who choke.
Then we get Adam Roth, the weird sound healer from San Francisco who sings "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons, the go-to song of the season, but his awful piano playing makes Harry and Keith Urban hate him.
Tristen Langley, aka Nikki McKibben's son, is mediocre, as is the Patriots cheerleader from Boston. Country singer Eric Wood is pretty strong, but the new round ends with Khristian D'Avis, the girl with the magically disappearing accent, who is not very impressive.
The other 160 contestants get to leave for their hotels and the remaining singers are divided into two groups. Both groups get on a bus, and one bus heads to the hotel while the other goes to the airport. That's insanely cruel, but a great way for the judges to avoid having to look into the eyes of the contestants they've crushed. It's kind of hard to figure out where everyone ended up, but the bus with 32 people is eliminated, including Caitlin, Khristian and Johnny.
Who Shines in Round 2?
The next day the real Hollywood Week begins, and it's basically the same thing as the first round, only this time everybody has to sing (except, I think, the 20 who survived Hollywood or Home). As with the auditions, I'm ignoring the singers who get rejected and highlighting the shining stars of Hollywood Week.
Majesty York (formerly known as Majesty Rose) starts off incredibly strong, as does John Fox (not to be confused with the coach of the losing Denver Broncos who he unfortunately shares a name with).
Super hottie Spencer Lloyd gets sensitive with "Say Something," a perfect song to make the judges (and me) love him even more.
Youngsters Austin Wolfe and Bria Anai blow me away with big, powerful voices. Damn, there's a whole lot of talent this season.
Future teen heartthrob Sam Woolf is just OK, but he clearly knows how to make pre-teen girls quiver with his eyes (although he kind of reminds of those serial killer twins on The Following).
The touching Alabaman C.J. Harris sings "Trouble," and he has so much beautiful pain all over his face.
Alex Preston is weird, but cool in an art school kind of way and Jesse Roach continues to kill it.
Kenzie Hall breaks it down with some acoustic rapping that is the single best part of this entire episode.
Ben Briley and Dexter Roberts are both talented husky dudes with solid country voices.
Briston Maroney is a nerdy 15-year-old punk rocker who looks like a young Jesse Eisenberg.
Maurice Townsend and Casey Thrasher are the two talented dads in a constant battle for cutest kids.
I'm quite excited that Tiquila moves on. I know she has a last name, but she only needs one name for me.
Mumfarid Zaidi, aka the adorable guy Harry cradled like a baby, does an insane cover of "Proud Mary."
Austin Percario is free of his stage mom and does a decent job.
Caleb Johnson, who is basically Jack Black's character from High Fidelity, rocks hard.
Emmanuel Zidor is a little too flamboyant for my taste as he's one of those guys trying to be a diva. His over-the-top, "fierce" style is going to be the bane of my existence.
Brianna Oakley continues to be a powerhouse and gas station attendant Jesse Cline continues to be a mystery, as his massive range and beautiful voice just don't mesh with his appearance.
Keith London tries to be memorable by singing Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy," but it just confuses and distracts the judges. They ask him to sing again and he does "Same Love" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Ugh, he's trying way too hard to make some sort of social commentary with his song choices and it's annoying, but he survives to sing another day.
Tuba-playing Malaya Watson sits down at the keyboard and continues to make me wish she was my best friend when I was in high school. Jena Asciutto also does a great job on the keyboard.
Savion Wright sings an original song dedicated to his brother, who died two and a half weeks ago. That makes it impossible for me to stick with my "No Originals" policy.
That's the end of this round, and out of 160 singers, 56 are eliminated and 104 move on to0 the dreaded Group Round.
Let the Groups Begin
As always, the Group Round starts with the awkward rush to find a group of three or four singers so they can spend all night preparing and choreographing their routines. This episode features that chaos, but here are the highlighted groups.
Casey Thrasher, Ben Briley and Dexter Roberts, three good, ol' country boys, quickly form a group called Backstreet Cowboys. It's a perfect model for success during this round.
Savion Wright and John Fox planned their group way back during the auditions, and the plan is successful because they are able to be the first group in to see the vocal coaches.
Malaya Watson has trouble with her group, Loud and Fierce, because those words accurately describe all of the young divas in the group. Also having problems is Emmanuel Zidor whose group just kind of disappears on him.
Jessica Meuse, the hardworking singer with a pink streak in her hair, gets stuck with two useless, unprepared guys. One of them gets sick, loses his voice and quits, thus allowing her to break up the group and find a new home. Jessica joins an all-girl group, but one of the contestant's moms is butting in and annoying her.
Finally, Mumfarid Zaidi's group has one member who, the morning of the performances, has a sore throat and can't perform, throwing everything into chaos.
This episode ends just as the first group is about to perform, so tune in tomorrow for the American Idol Group Round performances.
(Image courtesy of FOX)