Wednesday, February 17, 2010

American Idol Season 9, Episode 11: Hollywood Week Part Three

Hollywood Week is coming to a close and soon the real performances (and voting) will begin! WOOOO! Singing is my #1 favorite thing about American Idol. The drama of group rounds is my second.

Ryan begins the show by reminding us that only 71 contestants remain, and by the end of the day, only 46 will make the long walk to find out if they made the Top 24. That's a lot of numbers for one episode recap! The contestants' day begins at 7 am--folks, I am barely awake by seven and these people are having their danishes and practicing their songs like their lives depend on it. Oh wait. This is American Idol. Their lives do depend on these last performances!

For their final performance, the contestants are given a set list of songs from which they can choose. I'd love to see a complete list of the songs they were allowed to sing. I wonder if any of the songs got completely skipped? Some choices seemed incredibly odd, like Shelby Dressel choosing to sing Boston's "More Than A Feeling". After their performance, all the contestants are split into three rooms--two will make it and one will be sent home.

Room One:
1. Andrew Garcia, who sang Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours". Once again made it sound like a completely new song, so much so that it took me a minute to actually recognize which song he was singing. That's not necessarily a bad thing for a song that's played as much as this one.
2. Katie Stevens. I don't even really need to go any further, because I already know this group is going through. But, because I love all of you, I will forge on.
3. Jermaine Sellers sang Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror", a song that would be repeated throughout the night. I'm not really a fan of anyone throwing the band under the bus. It's really unprofessional, and that's what everyone on this show wants to be--a professional singer. Listen, if you're good, you're good and you'll make it through.
4. Casey James took a risk and sang "Bubbly" by Colbie Calliat. Honestly, I really don't want to like this guy because of all the emphasis on his looks, but when he sings that song the way he does, it's hard not to like him. He has turned in a week of solid performances. I'm not getting all swoony, though.
5. Siobhan Magnus--whew, that's a mouthful--has had a bit of an identity crisis this week, transforming from the mother of the bride to an extra in Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" video. I was so distracted by her clothing that I didn't remember to write down the name of the song she performed.
6. Crystal Bowersox is incredibly drama-free and sang "If It Makes You Happy" by Sheryl Crow incredibly well. Although, I do want to get my hands in her hair and make it shiny and smooth.
7. Alex Lambert chose to sing "I'm Yours" once again. It gets tiresome, really, when a contestant sings the same song over and over again. Show some diversity, dude, and for Simon's sake, don't play the ukelele!
8. Michael Lynche is absolutely one of my favorites this year. He's right up there with Andrew Garcia. I have a couple of reasons--he's a good singer, he seems to be a good guy, and he just became a new daddy. How can you not root for someone like that? He also chose Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" and did a really good job. It was recognizable, but also much better than Alex Lambert's version.
9. Tondrick Hall also sang "I'm Yours" and it fast on it's way to becoming the most oversung song of the auditions, right up there with "Man In The Mirror". I'm officially over it.
10. Were they highlighting Thaddeus Johnson or his mother? Who's the real contestant here? Anyway, he, too, wanted to sing "Man In The Mirror" but the band started him off with "Bubbly". He quickly corrected the situation with finesse and turned in a really good performance. Take notes, Jermaine Sellers. It's all about class and style.
12. Tori Kelly sang Katy Perry's "Hot 'N Cold" much better than Mary Powers, but we haven't gotten to Mary Powers yet, so I will hold my tongue for now.

Room One is the first room Simon, Ellen, Kara, and Randy visit, which makes sense to my very orderly mind. Simon has the best poker face ever. Like, he should consider playing professionally if this whole music business thing doesn't work out. He's completely unreadable because he ALWAYS looked annoyed and bored, even when the performance is good. Well, except when a leggy blonde takes the stage, and he makes his tell known--the eyebrows wiggle, and the eyes twinkle a little. And it's so nice of them to let Ellen deliver the news! Way to be team players, veteran judges! (Although, does Kara really qualify as a veteran? This is only her sophomore season, but that does mean she's already done one tour of duty on the American Idol front...)

Room Two:
1. Mary Powers--oh my gosh, but am I ever tired of this one. First it was the whole FauxBenetar act and bringing her kid into the audition room with her. Second, it was the complete domination of her group during group rounds. Now, she's up there telling Seacrest that this last performance will be a piece of cake? Hmmm. I've had some stale cake before and it ain't good, like her performance of Katy Perry's "Hot 'N Cold". Why do that to such a good, fun song? Why make it sound so angry? Why are you so angry, Mary? Lighten up already.
2. I really like Charity Vance, and it worries me that she's in this room. Her performance of Sara Bareilles' "Gravity" felt connected and real, and she has a lovely voice.
3. Lloyd Thomas seems like a nice guy with a nice voice, especially as he's singing "Man In The Mirror", but I don't recall seeing a lot of him before tonight, so I'm beginning to think that this might be the room that gets cut.
4. To further my suspicions, we are reintroduced to Bryan Walker, the police officer from Sevierville, TN. I'd forgotten he was still on the show. With which group did he perform last week? Did they even show us?
5. Oh, Hope Johnson. I want you to make it for several reasons--you grew up poor, you are very passionate about music, and you are strong enough to stand up to Mary when the two of you were in a group together. However, you jinxed your own self when you sang Daughtry's "Going Home". Don't ever, ever sing a song about going home on Idol, or you will.

The judges visit Room Two next, naturally. Because they've already been to Room One. As good as Simon is at concealing his emotions, he's also very good at torturing folks. He seems to take joy in telling this room that it's the end of the line for them. I half expect him to grab a cane and a top hat before breaking out into a little song and dance in front of them.

Room Three:
I'm not sure about the fate of Room Three, or the game that the judges might be playing with it's inhabitants. Logic tells me that this room will be staying, because Room One is staying and Room Two is leaving. Definitely a bag of mixed nuts in this room.
1. Haeley Vaughn, although she forgot her words in group round, is still here, and for her final performance she decided to shout--not sing--the lyrics to "I'm Yours". And did I hear Kara say "awesome" or "awful" after she was finished?
2. I really want Angela Martin to make it through. She's a really great singer, and has worked harder each time she's made it to Hollywood. This is really her time, IF she can keep herself out of trouble!
3. Shelby Dressel--we haven't seen a lot of her in Hollywood, have we? She's really cute with her new wardrobe, spray tan, and hair all blown out. She's also got a nice voice and seems to be a sweet girl, so I don't have to call her vain and obnoxious. Because you know I totally would! I liked her choice of "More Than A Feeling" because that's definitely a song that not everyone would choose, making her more memorable.
4. Aaron Kelly sang Sarah McLaughlin's "Angel" and forgot the lyrics. That's a death knell, and I'm really wondering if the bell is going to toll for this group, too. Or maybe they'll keep just half of this room? Like, let Ellen split them down the middle or something?
5. Another contestant I've really liked from the beginning is Ashley Rodriguez. Everything about her says recording artist to me, from the sound of her voice to her incredibly stage presence. Her decision to sing "Battlefield" by Jordan Sparks was really smart, because it fit her voice and style really well. I really don't want her to go home.
6. Lee Dewyze sang "You Found Me", and I cannot remember ever seeing him before.
7. Joe Munoz, another relative unknown, sang "Man In The Mirror".
8. Janell Wheeler has a really nice voice, but she has battled losing her voice this week, and made a very bad decision with Taylor Swift's "Love Story". Just like Kara said, absolutely the wrong song for her.

The judges move into the final room, and are very straightforward with this group--they are going through. I just don't get the decisions this year, with the exception of the denizens of Room One. They should have taken half of Room Two--the good half, like Jermaine Purifory and Charity Vance, and put them in Room Three, while taking Haeley Vaughn and Aaron Kelly out of Room Three and putting them in Room Two. Then I would have agreed with the keeping of Room Three and the ousting of Room Two. But, who am I? I don't make the judges' cracktastic decisions for them. I am but a lowly American Idol-obsessed blogger. Anyway, there's a mass celebration! Both rooms converge! It's the happiest mosh pit in the history of ever! This totally wasn't contrived and orchestrated by the producers at all!

Through all the celebration, though, I kinda feel bad for all these folks. Of the 46 celebrants, only 24 will make it through to the semi-finals. The judges have already made their decision about who among these is staying, and who is going to be leaving. That's kind of a downer, don't you think? Makes the celebration bittersweet.

But wait! We're not finished! They've decided to tease us with seven of the Top 24 tonight! It's the first time ever in the history of American Idol! Also, for the first time ever in the history of everything important(!!!), the contestants will be making their long walk down the aisle of the Kodak Theatre to learn their fate!!! Can't you just hear the urgency in Ryan's voice? You can almost see the exclamation points floating around on the screen. (!!!)

Here's who made it so far:
1. Michael Lynche--they got this one out of the way because it was a foregone conclusion. Although he needs to do something about the hats. Like lose them.
2. DiDi Benami--uh-oh! We've got a crier here! She's had a pretty good week. I remember liking her.
3. Katelyn Epperly--do any of y'all even remember her? I don't.
4. Casey James--I don't think there was any question here, either.
5. Aaron Kelly--Really? Is this a joke? Of all the singers we've seen this week, the four judges think he's Top 24 material?
6. Lee Dewyze--this is another puzzler. Are they padding the Top 24 so that certain contestants will be guaranteed a spot in the Top 12? This is getting curiouser and curiouser.
7. Tondrick Hall--this decision makes much more sense to me. He remembers his words and everything!

As for those that didn't make it....

I am befuddled about the judges decision to end Shelby Dressel's journey. She's pretty, has presence and a great voice. I don't get the logic behind the boot and am with Simon on this one--definitely the wrong decision.

As far as Jessica Furney is concerned, good riddance. She should feel lucky that she got as much exposure as she did. Some singers, most likely far better than her, never even got close to a camera. Also? Don't argue with the judges. It's uncool, completely classes, and never ever helps your cause.

Wait--there's a shocking elimination Wednesday night? It will leave me speechless? Oh, I hate it when Ryan uses hyperbole this way. It makes me worry, and I eat when I worry. Ugh! It had better not be Andrew Garcia or Katie Stevens. They need to make it. I will start a letter-writing campaign. These people don't know me.

The rest of the Top 24 coming up Wednesday night! The parade of wacky dances is not to be missed!

Also, just a few more weeks until GLEE comes back! I've missed you, Sue Sylvester!


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