Sorry for the three “American Idol” recaps I missed the past two weeks. The combination of film responsibilities at the Sundance Film Festival and predictably atrocious wifi at the Sundance Film Festival had me casting aside some of my TV responsibilities.
But I'm back and I'm all caught up after rushing through three “Idol” episodes in around 90 minutes over the weekend. There were some pretty good singers in New Orleans and San Francisco. I'd point to Maddy Hudson, Greyson Turner, Tyanna Jones, Rocky Peter and Hunter Larsen as just a few performers I'd be happy to see/hear again if the opportunity presents itself. Ditto with Carlos Santana's nephew and a few of the White Guys With Guitars who were better-than-generic, but not immediately nameable in my memory.
We're starting Hollywood Week on Wednesday (February 4), so follow along!
8:00 p.m. ET. In case we've forgotten, in order to become American Idol, you have to survive Hollywood Week. Carrie Underwood did it, so why can't this year's singers?
8:02 p.m. HOLLYWOOD! The judges are less excited than the contestants.
8:02 p.m. Where's Simon Cowell when you need a threatening speech about game-easing and lyric-remembering? Instead, we get Keith Urban saying that it's going to be a difficult week. Harry Connick Jr. surprises a few in the room with the announcement that they're calling up some singers they want to see/hear again.
8:04 p.m. You may recall Jax for her smokey voice and her cross cheek-tattoo. Jax is smart. She realizes that since the camera was hovering around her, she's likely to have to perform. She sits down at the piano and does a confident and edgy cover of “Toxic.” I compared Jax to Elise Testone when she auditioned and I think that's a good sense of her skillset, but maybe doesn't capture her potential, since she's younger than Elise was. Like Elise, though, Jax seems way older than her listed age. I don't know if that helps or hurts.
8:07 p.m. I only remember that Mark Andrew was old and fairly talented. Both facts remain true. Emily Brooke is also very good and unfazed by her relative youth. Sal Valentinetti will sing well at an Italian restaurant someday. Adam Ezegelian is probably one of the “Idol” contestants I'd have the most in common with if we hung out. He has a surprisingly rangy, albeit pitch-challenged, voice, even if I don't think he's all that well-suited for “American Idol.”
8:09 p.m. I don't love this structure. The contestants don't know why they're performing and neither do I.
8:13 p.m. If the auditioners were memorable, why are the judges asking to be reminded of them? Tyanna Jones was somebody I also hoped to see again. She's working less of a Janelle Monae aesthetic than she was at her first audition, when I felt like she was playing up the Monae thing with the bow-tie and short up-do. Tyanna's solo is marvelous. It's jazzy and charming and possessed of ample stage presence. America needs to get the chance to vote for her.
8:15 p.m. I don't especially like Savion Wright's “Lucky” cover, but I've liked him a ton in the past. Subway performer Hollywood Anderson had the pimp slot in the New York City episode. It's awful to say, but Hollywood would be a perfect “The Voice” contestant. He's musically unique and his voice is so polished, but you look at him and aren't sure how to predict where he should fit on “Idol.”
8:18 p.m. The judges didn't like Hollywood Anderson and now Keith has to tell the crowd to relax. Harry, in contrast, tells them all to get stressed and sing from their throat. Whose advice will win out? J-Lo can't pronounce Shannon Berthiaume's name. Shannon's story in Minneapolis was that she'd never sung for anybody before. Either she's been practicing or else she's a natural at this, working the mic with a slinky swagger. She's spectacular and… OY. She loses the lyrics. She's initially flustered. Pauses. Her father looks stressed out. She recovers her groove and closes well. She worries this could doom her. That would be sad.
8:24 p.m. Carlos Santana's nephew has a name! It's Adam Lasher. He's also not an “Idol” singer, but he's really good, both vocally and on his guitar. His insistence on wearing headbands makes him look around 45, which sure isn't a good idea.
8:26 p.m. Everybody's favorite blind guitarist is Garrett Miles. He's got a nice, pure voice, but I feel like he was either better in the audition or like he's an artist who works better in small venues? What do I know? The audience stands for Garrett.
8:27 p.m. Time for some less successful performers. Several people didn't bother to tune their guitars. That's a bad idea. I liked Bill Nye wannabe Trevor Douglas, whose geeky charm could take him far. He has the dual ability to look like it's effortless and to look like he's trying really hard, apparently in the same performance. Remember that sweet, boring high school student from last year who kept flirting when anybody asked how he felt about girls? Apparently his name was Sam Woolf? If he was able to make it to Top 5, Trevor Douglas could win, whether it's this year or next year.
8:31 p.m. At this point, since we're only seeing solos from people who also got prominent audition exposure, I'm assuming that most of these people are headed for the Top 24 or thereabouts. I guess one or two will be eliminated, but I'd be more than half of these people are around when we vote. Otherwise, what's the point? [I assume there are spoilers out there and I could check, but what fun would that be?]
8:34 p.m. Even sans squeezebox, Joey Cook is still quirky, hipster fun. She's relaxed. The same cannot be said of Amber Kelechi, who's out in the hallway freaking out. Have we ever seen this pink-haired singer? She has to get her family out of the city, Snake Plissken-style. After pumping herself up, Amber gets to solo and does a nerve-filled cover of “Radioactive.” The judges are split on whether or not she was good.
8:36 p.m. The judges call the early soloists, most of whom we didn't see, back to the stage. Poor Shannon's confidence level is a “3.” Keith explains that they'd all performed because they were among the most memorable from auditions. They're all going through to the next round, even the people who sucked. The confusing part is that EVERYBODY is advancing to the next round, even the people who didn't perform. That was a lot of stress the 38 memorable singers were put through. Was the point to make them battle-hardened? Or are those 38 safe for two rounds and everybody else is going to perform in the on-stage lineups? This isn't structured well, “Idol”!
8:43 p.m. It's Day 2. OK. The first 38 advanced and everybody else is taking the stage in lines of 10. Gotcha. That's a bit clearer. And half of these remaining contestants are heading home.
8:45 p.m. The first line is led by Reno Anoa'i. I remember his smile and his lilting high voice, but mostly I remember that as many as 60 people sometimes live in his house. Priscilla Barker has a fun, expressive country twang. Way-too-young-for-this-competition, but way-too-old-for-her-age is Jaq Mackenzie. She did an original for her first audition and I didn't like her very much. On “Cool Kids” cover, she's much better, even if she's more like a living Bratz doll than a fully developed human at this point. I think Jaq would almost certainly benefit from a year or two of seasoning and maturation. Reno and Jaq are advancing, but Priscilla is heading home.
8:49 p.m. In subsequent lines we lost… a bunch of people I don't remember or we haven't seen before. Oh well. Farewell… People. Tara Honda is the only one I remember remember from this departing group and I only remember her because I just watched that episode the other day.
8:55 p.m. I suspect Erica Washington should have performed in that first group. She's good. And she's advancing. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lopez is cold. She has a space-heater beneath, but now Harry and Keith are warm. Endearing stereotype Sal offers her a sweater and wine and J-Lo seems to be considering it. And speaking of flirting with J-Lo, it's time for three guys who had intimacies with her in their auditions. Michael Simeon is fine, but I've forgotten him by the time he finishes. Big Ron Wilson pretty much puts Michael to shame vocally, emotionally and on the keyboard. They're both advancing. Some guy named Jacob is done. Oh.
8:59 p.m. We're going to end this episode on a cliffhanger, but it involves Gabby Zonneveld, who I unfortunately don't remember at all. She boasts that she's a performer and singer-songwriter, but hubris kicks in very early. She gets flustered half-way through. The other contestants try to encourage her, but will Gabby Z die?!?! Find out tomorrow.
Who'd you like tonight? Did anybody seem better or worse than you remembered?