• Tue, Feb 9 2010

American Idol Season 9 – Welcome to Hollywood Week!

It goes without saying that I love when American idol gets down to the top 12 for obvious reasons, but aside from that I think my favorite part of the show is Hollywood week. I don’t really know how to explain my enjoyment, I think it’s just seeing who can really survive the huge transition from audition to Kodak Theater.

This season 181 hopefuls walked into that Kodak Theater to stand up and sing. We also finally got to meet Ellen DeGeneres as the newest Idol judge. When she was introduced to the crowd she said that she knows what it’s like to stand up on a stage and try to please a room of different people and that’s what she was bringing to the table.

It was interesting to revisit the names we got to know through the audition rounds and to see if they could stand up as well now as they did then. For example, while Katie Stevens made it through the round with Simon telling her “you’re quite good”, the very annoying Skiiboski did not; Ellen made me laugh when she advised him that he was “too intense” and that there’s a fine line between sexy and scary.

I remembered loving Vanessa Wolfe the girl from the small town who had big dreams, but unfortunately nerves got the best of her and a bad song choice ended her road right then and there. On the other hand, Andrew Garcia blew everyone away with his version of Paula Abdul‘s “Straight Up”. He did a kind of funky acoustic arrangement and it was insanely good – I have to find a YouTube clip of it! Kara summed it up when she said, “That was GENIUS” and naturally he made it to the next round.

There was a whole string of people who didn’t make it through, and it was so fast that I missed a lot of names but I was sad to find out that Amadeo DiRocco didn’t pass to the next round. I had really liked him tremendously during the auditions, both for his voice and his fun personality and it’s a shame that he didn’t do better in Hollywood.

We also saw a series of people who made a fine of example of bad instrument use. Whether they could sing in the auditions or not, the instruments just did really bad things to a lot of people, which was unfortunate. Sometimes I think people need to understand that instruments are allowed, not mandatory.

Luckily, even though Haeley Vaughn chose to play her guitar, she did extremely well. She told the camera that she was very nervous but it didn’t show when she started to sing. Randy called her “interesting” which is sometimes the kiss of death, but this time it worked in her favor and we’ll see her again.

We also saw one of my favorites, Mary Powers, and remembered immediately loving her rock vibe. She brought it to Hollywood too and did a great job. Ellen told her, “you have an amazing voice and you were really into that song.” She’s coming back too.

I laughed at the end of day one when there were four people left and Ellen made them step forward, step back, step forward again, move over, turn around, and then finally said, “Oh you’re all going through!” They joined a total of 46 people who survived day one.

On day two I was disappointed that beatboxer Jay Stone didn’t impress me, and failed to impress the judges as well. Simon said, “That was ridiculous” and Ellen suggested that perhaps something was wrong with him microphone. Alas, poor Jay will not be giving Blake Lewis a run for his money since he didn’t get past the Hollywood round.

We also got to see Lily Scott, and correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think we saw her in the auditions. What a shame too, because she can really sing! She busted out an Ella Fitzgerald song and she was fabulous. Kara summed it up well by saying she REALLY liked her. Although we didn’t see her try out, we’ll see her try to continue on in the next round!

Michael Lynche had an interesting attempt because he spoke to his wife on the phone before going on and found out her water broke – his first child was potentially on the way while he sang! He joked with the judges that his wife would be really upset if he didn’t pull off a victory. Luckily he got that victory!

Justin Williams tried to win the judges over with some keyboards and crooning but it didn’t work out for him. That’s too bad because I think he could have done some nice Jason Mraz but his song choice just wasn’t good. He was cut.

Tim Urban took a bit of a risk by choosing to sing “Come Back To Me” by David Cook. I love David so I wasn’t sure what to expect but Tim did a fantastic job and surprised me. Kara warned him that the chorus was a bit shaky but overall it was “pretty good” and he made it through.

I had high hopes for sweet Maddy Curtis but she just didn’t do well at all, choosing a song that just didn’t fit her voice or style. Simon confirmed that by saying, “That was the wrong song for you” and sadly she was cut. On the other hand Casey James – someone who hadn’t blown me away in the auditions and managed to get through by removing his shirt for Kara and Victoria – blew me away with a great blues song, accompanied by his guitar. Randy said, “I loved that, you’re a really good singer/songwriter” and he will be back in round two.

Taking an even bigger risk than Tim Urban was Didi Benami. She stood up in front of Kara DioGuardi and sang Kara’s song “Terrified”. I really enjoyed it, other than the higher notes, but in general I thought she rocked it. Simon said, “I hate to admit it but I really liked that song.” Didi will be back again.

Closing off the night was Crystal Bowersox singing “Natural Woman” and she did an excellent job. She was so good that the audience even sang backup vocals for her. She had gotten a good luck tattoo earlier in Hollywood and it worked for her because she made it through with Simon adding that she’s “infectious and real”.

The show closed as Simon said, “That’s a wrap.”

Tomorrow we move on to the group performances which are always ripe with drama. Let’s see who can hold it together and survive round two!

Image: Michael Becker / FOX

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