American Idol: tens of thousands to fifty

After last night’s episode of “American Idol” from Hollywood week whittled the contestants down from 100 to 50, it’s safe to say things are really heating up. I’m guessing that the live portion of the show will begin on March 2, unless it begins next Thursday, February 24. Either way, I, along with all of you I’m sure , am ready for the real competition to begin. Here is a brief run-down of last night…

Basically, the first 50 minutes or so of the episode showed the contestants singing, by themselves, one more time for the judges. Ashley Sullivan, who almost quit during the group round and is, well, a bit of a basket case, sang Michael Buble’s “Everything” to her boyfriend, but she forgot most of the words and melted down right there on stage. Yikes.

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American Idol: Hollywood week grueling

“American Idol” is hitting its stride now, as last night was the dreaded “group night” portion of Hollywood week. For those of you new to the show, or who need a reminder, what they do is let the contestants form groups–but judge them individually. They also give them a song choice from a list of 20 songs, but give them that list at around 8pm, and force them to practice deep into the night, and audition for the judges early in the morning. I know they want to create a pressure cooker situation, but come on. Is it really necessary to not give them a full day to practice?

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American Idol: auditions wind down

Last night was Episode 7 of this season’s “American Idol” on FOX. That means it was the last night of initial audition footage, and tonight we get into Hollywood week. But first, a recap from last night’s San Francisco auditions:

HOLLYWOOD BOUND
The first few that they showed going to Hollywood were 21 year old Brittany Mazur; Lara Johnston; and Matthew Nuss. I wrote down next to Lara that she was all technique and I wrote “eh” next to Matthew. Sometimes I’m not quite sure what the judges are smoking, or that they are a bit too lenient…but Stefano Langone, who went next, was quite a story. He was in a life-threatening car accident two years ago, but pulled through. He talked about the desire to win “American Idol” burning in him, and when someone goes through something like that and to top it off, has the talent AND the burning drive, look out. I’m just saying, keep an eye on this kid. He did an awesome version of “Heard it Through the Grapevine” and J-Lo even suggested the word “star” to Stefano….Clint Jun Gamboa, a karaoke host from Los Angeles, was pretty damn good…after a medley of good auditions, some with women in short dresses that caught the eyes of Randy and Steven, the next Hollywood-bound contestant was Julie Zorrilla, a 20 year old beauty originally from Colombia. Her family was rich but constantly extorted by the army, so they left and came to LA for a better life. Good for us, because she was awesome and did a super cool version of the classic, “Summertime”….Emily Anne Reed, whose house burned down like last week, sang “You’re Getting To Bet a Habit,” and she was really good, kind of old-timey but very unique. Steven said no, but Randy and Jennifer said yes resoundingly…..and finally, 21 year old James Durbin from Santa Cruz, whose dad always played in bands and toured but died when James was 9 of a drug overdose, was quite a story. He and his girlfriend Heidi have a little daughter and though he has no job, they make ends meet somehow, and now he wants a better life for his family. Thankfully, he didn’t suck. Dude did a super cool version of Led Zeppelin’s “You Shook Me” and then even did Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” with Steven’s permission of course. This dude was really good and worth keeping an eye on.

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American Idol: competing with the Olympics

As Fox tries desperately to compete with NBC’s Winter Olympic coverage, they keep unveiling “first time in American Idol history” type stuff, which really is just a small break in format during Hollywood week.
But I’ll give them this…they are getting down to the final 24 quickly. Almost too quickly.

Last night’s two-hour episode began with the final 71 contestants being broken into three rooms. Two rooms would hold those advancing to the next round, and one room full of those heading home. This, after one final shot to impress the judges with a solo performance.

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American Idol: sometimes more is less

One thing we always notice during the Hollywood group round on “American Idol” is that dysfunction sometimes gets in the way, making the contestants involved sound worse than they would individually. But let’s face it…working together is something any Idol hopeful has to be good at.

In all, 96 contestants made it through to this round, while 85 were eliminated. And as they broke into groups, you could already sense that some of them had their act together and some had a ton of trouble working in teams.

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