It’s that critical moment in the American Idol process when the 300 or so hopefuls who headed to Hollywood are whittled down to a still-ungodly-high number of people whose names we may actually remember.

As Hollywood Week(s) comes to an end, with the doom and gloom of the dreaded group round in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for the final solo performances that will determine who goes on to the brand spankin’ new American Idol Showcase.

The collection of newbies, retreads (where you been, Casey Thrasher?) and former contestants of The Voice who survived having to actually collaborate now have one shot to prove they deserve a spot in the Top 48. And judging by the spoiler alerts I’ve stumbled upon (don’t worry, I don’t read them and would never give anything significant away), it seems I’m about to be VERY disappointed that David Oliver Willis will once again get the shaft and be excluded.

Seriously, if someone knows him, point him to this blog. I’ve been championing you for three years, brother! Why not now? Why not you??? You know what they always say… fourth time’s a charm! 

Step Up or Step Out

The start of the solos is a bit of a relief, because the hardest thing about covering the group round is the mishmash of named and unnamed singers flying by. Some we have seen before, while others are newbies, and it’s difficult to remember who is who and keep everyone and his or her back-story straight. 

American Idol Recap: The Ups and Downs of the Group Round >>>

Thankfully, that all ends with the solo acts, as everyone is now featured exclusively as an individual. And I’m sure there will be some in the Top 48 who we haven’t seen a lick of yet this season (where you been, Casey Thrasher?). 

The Idol slug is “It’s A-Game or Plan B,” so I guess all the losers are pregnant, too. At least they won’t be bringing any more loser babies into the world. Thanks, Obamacare! Time to cut 80 to 48!

The Solo Round Begins

Loren Lott is up first, singing Adele’s “Skyfall” in front of her grammy. It’s nearly flawless, as she hits all her big notes without coming across as screamy. No way she’s not making it, and J-Lo calls it a superstar performance.

Daniel Seavey, a.k.a the kid who shouldn’t have made it through the audition but did because he’s cute, is up next. It’s light and timid and just young, with a bright spot here or there. C’mon, can we at least let this guy go through puberty first? He’s definitely got potential, but we should probably wait until his balls drop voice develops. Ugh, if I know my Idol, he’s also a lock. 

Big Ron is conflicted over how to sing his song after a run-in with band leader Rickey Minor, who thinks Ron should avoid oversinging and just go from the heart. He’s bringing it back to his audition with “Let’s Get It On,” and with his hand motions and goofy smile, it screams karaoke. Then he throws Rickey under the bus for not letting him direct the band in rehearsal, and I hope he goes home just for that. 

Shi Scott, who has been struck by nerves since the beginning, is up to her old tricks. She’s out of breath before she even starts singing, but she recovers nicely to deliver a throaty performance that gives me some goosebumps despite the fact that she’s clutching the mic stand like it’s a crutch. Still, Harry doesn’t think it was her best.

Next up is Adam Lasher Carlos Santana, Jr., who doesn’t get nervous. But while his “Free Fallin'” oozes talent, it just doesn’t do it for me. Keith wasn’t blown away either, unhappy that Adam didn’t handle the octave change very well.  

Results: Big Ron and Adam are out. Shi, Daniel and Loren are through. Ouch. At least Adam made it further than he did on The Voice, when none of the judges turned around for him.

Who Else Sings?

So we’re 23 minutes in, and we’ve only made it through one group of 10. So I have no idea how we’re going to be down to 48 in 35 more minutes, especially after we waste three of them watching J-Lo dance around on stage with Quentin Alexander, who is dressed like an employee at Medieval Times. But that’s his style, and his unique take on “Riptide” is more enjoyable to me than the original. 

Montage of successes include: Country girl Maddie Walker, resident geek and Bill King favorite Trevor Douglas.

Not so much for faintee Alexis Granville, who is all over the place whilst trying to prove herself in the wake of her episode. Harry cuts her off and tells her to start over in the correct key, but he’s upset she didn’t take care of it on her own. When she’s still off, Harry stops it again and says twice is inexcusable. See ya.  

Then Jax’s “Let It Be” is goosebump-inducing even before she serenades her parents with it.

The Young vs. the Old

Michael Simeon, who Harry basically declared the winner during group round, allows J-Lo into his heart with a rendition of Colbie Caillat’s “Try.” He sounds great, but I’m distracted by his giant Super Bowl-esqe ring. That thing is huge.

Nick Fradiani, the old man in the group on his last Idol shot (and who I just realized was the frontman of a band on America’s Got Talent this past summer), sets himself apart with a soulful and mature version of “Babylon.” The judges praise his experience. 

Youngster Katherine Skinner is, like, the first person ever to sing Heart’s “Alone” on the Idol stage, so you’d think it’d be the best, but it’s not. She dedicates it to her psychic cat, who has since passed on to the next dimension, and he’s just happy he didn’t have a 10th life. No, that’s mean. Kitties love you no matter how bad you sound. 

Results: Michael and Nick (and Emily Brooke) are through, but it’s the end of the line for Katherine (and Jessica Lamb, Alex Shier and Piper Jones).

Getting Down to the Wire

Clark Beckham has traded his guitar for keyboard, and it’s good but a bit hokey. 

Another alum of The Voice, Mark Andrew, is struggling to stay awake while sitting in the audience. He makes a last-minute decision to ditch his guitar and then butchers the lyrics, and while I’m not a huge fan of this one, he’s the type of guy the judges love to put through to the lives shows.

Results: Mark and Clark (and Alexis Gomez, Shannon Berthiaume and Katherine Winston) are through, while Naomi Tatsuoka is done.

Rapid-Fire Results

We’re short on time and long on Top 48 spots, so here we go. 

For the second straight time, Joey Cook messes up, doesn’t wow me and advances anyway.

Also advancing are: Tyanna Jones, Rayvon Owen and Riley Bria. 

Lovey James is out.

Huh? That’s it for Hollywood Week? Now it’s time to go to the House of Blues and sing for a live audience to pare down the group further. Ho hum.

I know they can’t show us everyone, but I have no idea who makes up the Top 48 or how many of them we haven’t seen yet (Where you been, Casey Thrasher?). Nor do I know what happened to David Oliver Willis. And apparently we’ll never find out.

While I definitely prefer the abbreviated show, I don’t appreciate how little these audition and Hollywood shows actually matter in the grand scheme of the season. Sure, they are entertaining at times and have their fair share of drama, but now more than ever, if you missed them, no worries. You’ll still meet most of the Top 48 at the same time as the rest of us.  

You can watch American Idol on Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm on FOX.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order