American Idol kicked off the Hollywood portion of the contest last night and the results were, well, a little bizarre.  Nothing that happened, per se, was that weird, just the decisions that the American Idol producers made in the editing.  Why would you spend eight different episodes over an entire month on the individual auditions, and then rush through the next three rounds of auditions in one hour?  Don’t you think that a four day process, that sees the field pared from almost 200 contestants down to 40, deserves more than one episode? 

But this is exactly what happened last night.  The hour was a whirlwind, no time allowed for the viewers to catch their breath, a constant stream of reintroductions, brutal eliminations, and joyous celebrations.  The faces were familiar, but not that familiar.  I would much rather have split this episode into two, allowing us to watch more of the group auditions. 

It was close to impossible to keep track of who made it and who didn’t.  The “star” of the program was Baylie Brown, and she was eventually eliminated.  Baylie received more screen time than anyone else but, even then, it wasn’t much.  Baylie, the 16-year old country girl, has a great voice but, since she forgot her words during the group auditions, she was kicked to the curb.

Amanda Coluccio and Antonella Barba, the Jersey Girls, were Baylie’s partners for the group stages.   They made it past that stage in the competition, but only Antonella made it to the final 40 at the end of the episode.

For those interested, here’s how the episode played out.

Day 1:  Female Individual Performances

56 girls end up getting cut out of over 100.  The judges, to ultimately get down from 170-something contestants to 12 guys and 12 girls, have to particularly brutal with the ladies, who have twice as many contestants in Hollywood as the guys.  They start off poorly, with Simon telling the first group of six girls to perform that they’ve all been eliminated.  I suspect the judges did this for shock value, because Jory Steinberg, a favorite of mine, was one of the six to be eliminated and didn’t deserve to be. 

Day 2: Male Performances

Although there were less males in Hollywood, their overall quality was far and away better than the ladies.  34 of the 50-some males make it to the next round, creating a smaller gender gap. 

Day 3: Group Auditions 

The 92 remaining contestants are told to break themselves into groups for the group auditions.  They pick form 9 songs and are told to learn the song, figure out the harmonies, and be ready to perform it by the next day.  We see entirely too little of the group auditions.  We get an extended look at Baylie and the Jersey Girls, but besides that, only snippets.  The highlight is a group of four guys, featuring Chris Sligh and Blake Lewis (the Seattle beat boxer), that perform an awesome interpretation of the Bee Gee’s “How Deep Is Your Love?”  After all the group audition cuts, the field is down to 56.

Day 4:  Judges Cuts

The judges spend their day cutting the remaining 56 down to 40. After they make their decisions, we play the room game.  The contestants are divided into three groups and sent to three different rooms.  Room 1 and 2 are into the top 40.  Room 3 is sent home. 

That’s a lot of action to fit into 43 minutes, right? 

Here’s a list of notable contestants who we think made it in the Top 40:

Chris Sligh, Thomas Daniels, Sundance Head, Antonella Barba, Sanjaya Malakar, Gina Glocksen, Matthew Buckstein, Blake Lewis, Rudy Cardenas, Melinda Doolittle, Paul Kim, Tami Gosnell, Anna Kearns, Brandon Rogers, Chris Richardson, Philip Stacy, Jordin Sparks, Nicholas Pedro, and Tom Lowe.

(Thanks to RealityTV Magazine for this list.)

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer

Oscar Dahl

Senior Writer, BuddyTV