Hollywood week began on “American Idol” last night, and I believe they had promised us an extended Hollywood experience on TV this year, which is fine by me, especially when they continue to keep these episodes to a bearable 60 minutes.

There were 147 contestants plucked out of the tens of thousands who auditioned in the eight cities last summer. And in last night’s episode, they whittled it down to 104, meaning only 43 were sent packing. This season, there are makeup artists and vocal coaches to get these singers ready to perform in front of the four judges, and even Barry Manilow was a surprise coach and speaker.

The contestants were then put into groups of eight, and each group had to line up on stage at the Kodak Theatre, and sing a cappella in front of Randy, Paula, Simon and Kara. Then they were asked to either step back or step forward, and one line or the other was told they were through to the next round, and the other line was headed home. Immediate elimination may seem cruel, but that’s Hollywood week, and song choice becomes crucial. With that, here were the good and bad…..


Dennis Brigham, the dude who had a dream about Simon in his initial audition and was liked by three of the four judges (not Simon), was less than stellar this time, and was a no for all four judges. But he kept saying he disagreed and was basically throwing a tantrum on his way out….Jesus Valenzuela, who I was surprised made it through the first time, didn’t make it this time….Erika Wesley, who made it through in San Juan, was not great this time, and every bit of begging the judges did not work, even though Paula dug her. Kind of shows you how much pull Ms. Abdul has, huh?


Well look, there were far more good than bad last night, so we’ll blaze through as best as we can….Lil Rounds, who took on Whitney Houston, something the judges always warn against, did a really nice job and seems to be a judge favorite…Anoop Desai, who is very nerdy but has a really great voice….Jasmine Murray, who I can’t picture in my head, but I had “awesome” written in my notes….Rose Flack, the 17 year old blonde from Idaho, was nervous and had a rough rehearsal, but made it through…..Stephen Fuller took on Stevie Wonder, another bad idea, but performed admirably…Jorge Nunez, who I also wrote “awesome” next to….Von Smith, who shouted his whole audition but somehow won the judges over….Nick Mitchell, a.k.a. Norman Gentle, was shouty and awful, and yet somehow the judges can’t seem to get past the fact that there is a voice in there somewhere, and let him continue. Or maybe it’s for ratings….Scott, the dude who is legally blind, and Frankie, the girl with the guy’s name, both made it through as well.


Jackie Tohn, who is a Janis Joplin old soul type, really has some pipes on her…..Danny, the guy who lost his wife recently to cancer, sang Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose,” and dare I say this, I am predicting Top 12 for this guy right here, right now. He was that good….Danny’s buddy Jamar also made it through….Katrina, who you all know as Bikini Girl, sang Faith Hill’s “Breathe” and I thought it was nasally and annoying, but once again Randy and Simon loved her and Paula and Kara didn’t. She made it to the next round anyway….Jeremy Sarver had a nice enough voice to where Randy said he was one of the best of the day…..David Osmond, naturally, made it through. I mean, he’s a freaking Osmond…..finally, Emily Wynn-Hughes, the band singer who left the band to pursue this, practiced a 1940’s song, chickened out and went with a No Doubt song at the last minute. Bad idea, and the judges chastised her for choosing the wrong song, but let her through anyway.

Okay, I just exhaled again. I can only imagine how tiresome it is for the judges to do this. Anyway, tonight is the infamous group performance round, to see how these contestants work together and how they can perform with the added pressure of relying on someone else. This is where “American Idol” starts to get fun, and we’ll recap it here tomorrow morning. See you then…..Mikey, out.