'American Idol' Recap: And We're Off
As Hollywood Week begins, the competition finally starts to heat up
By Carla Patton
Hollywood Week is finally upon us! I'm so excited. I think Hollywood Week is my favorite part of the entire "American Idol" process. There's so much drama and emotion, and the cuts happen so fast! Let's go ahead and separate some wheat from the chaff, shall we?
Randy Jackson, the only name we can trust, promises us that the talent is better than ever this year. It will also be twice as hard because J.Lo and Steven sent twice the amount of people through to Hollywood. But that means twice as many cuts, which is all fine and good by me.
Hollywood Week starts with all our contestants (some we don't even recognize and some we'd rather never see again) getting out of buses and checking in, with hopes of fulfilling Randy's wish that they "bring it hard." It will be broughten!
For the first portion, contestants come out in lines of 10, singing individually without feedback. And this round is sudden death! Oh, excuse me, sudden death. Our cute anti-bullying ginger, Brett Loewenstern, sings first (or is first for us to see), and he has mad anxiety. He sings "Let It Be" and even though the judges aren't supposed to give feedback, Steven Tyler is clearly enjoying it. Brett's obviously going through since we haven't seen any of these other kids in line before. A girl named Symphony also moves forward. For now.
"Early favorites" like Rachel Zevita (the first audition we ever saw), Thia Megia and Casey Abrams sail through the first round. I love Casey Abrams. The chipper, chipmunk-y Victoria Huggins is up next and nothing against her personally, but I'm OK with her and her twinset getting cut this round. She stomps all over the stage, just bein' Miley, and is eliminated. I was a little surprised, actually, but I haven't seen what the judges have. I don't want to know the things Steven Tyler has seen ...
More tears! We didn't even get to know some of these people, which is really sad. We get a refresher on Paris Tassin and James Durbin, and poor James has been met with even more tragedy. He just got laid off! In a move I don't agree with, Paris sang "My Heart Will Go On." James chose, "Oh! Darling," and I liked him until he started screaming again. Lauren Alaina and Miss Tennessee Teen USA, Stormi Henley, are also in this line. One of these girls totally killed it and the other did not. I bet you can guess! Paris, James, and Lauren all made it through. No surprises from Hollywood yet!
Chris Medina is up next, and Steven Tyler reminds us about Chris's fiancee and her tragic story. No pressure, Chris! He seemed a little nervous, almost shaky this time. He made it through, though, sending seven unseen faces packing. The saddest part of Hollywood Week, for me, is how many people we've never even seen before. I'm also learning that Ryan Seacrest and I have different definitions of the phrase "early favorite." You don't know me, Ryan!
Everyone is really nervous toward the end of Day 1 (I don't believe anything Ryan tells me anymore). And no one is more nervous than Hollie Cavanagh. Also, Robbie Rosen and Jacee Badeaux are still around, lest we forget. Jacee sings to a very positive reaction from the crowd, because we still don't expect that voice to come out of him. Robbie does better than I remember him being, and Hollie gets the best of her nerves. Good news for all of them!
Steve Beghun, unassuming accountant, was one of my favorites just based on personality. He did not exactly hit it out of the park, though. He's out, and it's back to the books and having a real job. Don't worry, Steve, you are still way better at math than most of us. Sarah Sellers and Jacqueline Dupree (who?!) are also going home. Heidi Khzam, the belly dancer, was also excused. No one is more devastated than Casey Abrams, weirdly. Casey said, "I didn't even know half of these people but ... I just feel bad." Despite my best efforts to resist, "American Idol" is painting Casey Abrams as an early favorite for me.
There are so many contestants this year they couldn't be crammed into one day of that "hellish" round. But they could be crammed into about ten Ford Focuses. We're starting early this season! It quickly became "one of those mornings," as people keep messing up and forgetting words. You let them in, J.Lo and Steven. We know who's to blame.
Rob Bolin and Chelsee Oaks on deck! They're still not "back together" so I guess nothing is right in the world. To make matters worse, they made Rob and Chelsee stay with Nick and Jacqueline, that "couple" from Austin. Poor Rob.
We feel for you, Rob.
And would you look at that, they're in the same lineup! When will we start seeing them as separate entities? Not today, they both move forward. Nick Fink and Jacqueline Dunford are in the next line and Nick doesn't fare as well. Nick begs for another chance and Randy is like, "No." Go away. Keeping it classy, Nick keeps singing all the way down the aisle, trying to change the judges' minds. It's still a no, Nick. Ugh. And nobody sasses Ryan Seacrest but me! OK, that's not true.
Oh noooo. Are Nick and Jacqueline gonna break up?! I can't believe in love anymore if they "break up"! Unless, of course, I get a diamond for Valentine's Day that is "visibly brighter" than most crummy old diamonds. Then I'll believe in love again.
Scotty McCreery is here to make everything better with his smooth, rich baritone. He sang the same song again (it will be stuck in my head forever) -- are they allowed to do that? It doesn't matter. Jackie Wilson and Jerome Bell did the same thing, choosing the same song they used in their audition. They all make it through and will live to sing another song.
Next up, in the final line, are Travis Orlando and Tiffany Rios (New Jersey star-boobs). Ryan says we won't believe what happens next but if "what happens next" is both of them getting eliminated, then I believe it. Tiffany Rios starts up by serving up some sass. "I'm tired of seeing people trying to do what I know I can do," she says with a bunch of glitter in her hair. J.Lo loves her, for whatever reason. Travis Orlando sings "This Love," but it's not very good. Hey, what do those dots on the contestants' Polaroid's mean? Do they mean they're someone the producers have featured?
What does it all mean? Is that a sad face next to Travis?
Anyway, Travis is out, Tiffany is in. Do you believe it?
Also moving on: Clint Jun Gamboa, Julie Zorilla, Naima Adedapo, the Gutierrez brothers, Molly DeWolf Swenson, Emily Anne Reed, Stefano Langone, and unstable person Ashley Sullivan (What?!)
Next week is the totally thrilling group round, where favorites will fall and new stars will emerge! I trust what you say, Ryan, but only tentatively.
Sound off on the first Hollywood Week episode: "American Idol" message board
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.