Ryan Seacrest told us that the golden ticket from their original auditions gives the contestants one more shot. For many, it will be the end of the line and the toughest week of their lives. This year, Idol producers have changed many things, including doubling the first round of contestants. Therefore, two times the drama and two times the talent makes for a lot of action in Hollywood.
Hollywood, California is a one-of-a-kind place, and for 327 of the country’s best singers, there is nothing like Hollywood week. With regard to the standard Hollywood format of group auditions, Randy Jackson said, “The best of the best are here.” Jennifer Lopez said, “I am excited, you get to see your competition.” Steven Tyler said, “You know some of them will jump up and down and say, ‘please one more time’, but we hope that some of them did their homework.”
Emotions during the week are difficult, and at times overwhelming. One of the contestants said, “It is hard to take it all in.” As they have in the past, the contestants are brought out on stage in rows of 10 to sing in front of everyone while the judges and the rest of the contestants sit back and listen. If it is the first time you have ever sung on stage, right there could be intimidating in front of camera crews, and about 400 people.
Contestants sing a Capella and get no feedback from the judges until the row is done with their auditions. Then the judges look over their pictures, their bios, remember their previous auditions, and vote. Some go to the front of the line, others to the back. They mix it up, and you never know if it is going to be the front or the back row going home until they call it.
Here is a recap of what was shown on Hollywood Week, season 10, Day 1, and a little bit of my commentary.
Brett Loewenstern, Boca Raton, FL, 16, Student,
Brett said as a child, he was bullied, but his confidence was boosted from the judges when he auditioned in New Orleans. Loewenstern sang, ‘Let It Be‘ by the Beatles. Brett kind of looks like a cross between Carrot top, the comedian, and an older Peter Brady from the Brady bunch with an artsy-flair but his voice was nothing to laugh at. He did well and he is staying for the next round.
Rachel Zevita, New York, NY, 23, Student, Singer walked out on stage saying “How ya doing?” Nice job.
Thia Megia, Mountain House, CA, 15, Student. Another nice job.
Casey Abrams, Idyllwild, CA, 19, film camp worker, from Austin, TX
– Casey got a standing O from the other contestants, and I thought, I would buy his music. I did not want him to stop singing. With some people, you can tell that they live, breathe and eat music, and he is one of those people.
Victoria Huggins, auditioned in New Jersey, from Lumberton, NC, Age 17, Student
Victoria came on stage saying “hey everybody”. During her previous audition, the judges voted her as the contestant with the most personality. Apparently, she made a strong impression on the road too. She came prepared to stay, with her mom and 17 bags of luggage in tow. Unfortunately, Victoria did not make it. She said, “I feel like I am more than just a 17 year old, I am more than that.”
For some the promise of changing their life has ended all too soon. For others it is about the individual conquest, it is about bettering themselves for their families. Sons, fiancés, daughters, and disabilities; this year there are many contestants struggling-dealing with unemployment issues and economic woes. Each hoping that being a part of Idol will make a huge difference in their lives.
Paris Tassin, New Orleans, LA, 23, Med Assistant showed up but her nerves got the best of her and she sang off key.
James Durbin, Santa Cruz, CA, 21, Unemployed
James gave the judges what he gave them in his first audition and it worked for him again. The new dad afflicted with Aspergers performed ‘Oh Darling,’ and hit it out of the park with an unbelievable range and a sense of timing.
Stormy Henley, Crossville, TN, 20, Former Miss Teen USA-sang “I can’t take it any longer.”
J. Lo said to the other judges, “She had the smallest voice we have ever heard” but Randy and Steven were apparently checking out the whole package.
Lauren Alaina, Rossville, GA, 15, Student -was a good performer with a big voice.
One thing remains the same from season to season; the pressure of Hollywood week is always stressful. At least we knew James, Lauren, Paris were going to stay in Hollywood.
Chris Medina, Oak Forest, IL, 27, Barista/ Caretaker
When he stood up to perform, Steven Tyler asked Chris, “How’s Julie?” Julie was his fiancée who got into a debilitating car accident just a few weeks before they were to be married. He replied, “She is getting better every day-thank you for asking. We met Chris and his wheelchair bound fiancé and her mother at the Milwaukee auditions.
He said, “For me to come here, and to have Julie as an inspiration is wonderful. I want this for my entire family but especially Julianna. My life is about to change and I know I don’t want it to stay the same. Chris started a little rocky but he pulled it in quickly. He is staying in Hollywood. The camera operator showed him in tears afterwards, and he just smiled and said, “Awesome man.”
5:00 pm – Day 1 of Hollywood
Seacrest tells us, “Nerves are bad in the waiting room, but they double for the idol contestants when they get on stage.” Steven Tyler made it explicitly clear to anyone who might have doubts; Idol’s must give their best. He explained, “We’re sorry, we understand, we’re singers too.”
Overall, the show this year seems to be highlighting the best of the best instead of the worst of the worst. The judges are firm but not insulting and I imagine the lawsuits against Idol are way down this year. Will it make good, engaging T.V. though? I am still watching. Are you?
Jacee Badeaux, Lafayette, LA, 15, Student
The question was, “Can he perform with all the nervousness going on?” The answer was an emphatic yes. This is another winner contender. All I know is that I want to hear him more. To look at him, you see a kid reminiscent of Angus Turner Jones but he has a Susan Boyle quality. You do not expect this kid to come out with that voice, and when he does, it just gives you the shivers. Another one I would love to hear more of is Jacee.
Robbie Rosen, Merrick, NY Age 16, Student – Steven Tyler said, “Woo Hoo” after his performance
Hollie Cavanagh, McKinney, TX, 17, Student – Hollie was shy in her original audition, but she pulled it out like gangbusters this time. Jacee, Robbie, and Hollie are staying in Hollywood.
Steve Beghun, Bloomington, MC, 27, Accountant – Steve said, “I’m excited to be here, I am finally following my passion.” Unfortunately, it was the end of the line for this CPA…but he said it did not matter. The whole experience has given him a vote of confidence, and has validated that he belongs in this industry on stage, performing. I agree, I was more impressed with him the first time, but he definitely has a gift.
Of course, tears of many crying eyes filled the stage. Casey said when the day was over, “I didn’t know half the people I hugged, but I just felt so bad.”
The second day of American Idol in Hollywood
As always, the day brought a few more yeses and many more tearful, nos. Ryan Seacrest was talking to the contestants behind the stage, and then they were on stage; forgetting lyrics, over doing their runs, losing timing, and some just fell apart in tears from stage fright and sheer nervousness.
This season a few duets tried out together. One in love couple, one ex-couple, and a couple of brothers. Jennifer’s prediction of the exes getting back together is not coming together quite yet. Chelsea is rooming with Jacqueline and Rob is bunking with Nick. The two that taught Idol about love in Houston. Rob said, “My mother is the only woman I trust anymore.” Chelsee said, “We disagree all the time because we are exes but I like the fact that I know someone here.”
Rob Bolin, Nashville, TN, 23, Works at a Restaurant,
Chelsee Oaks, Nashville, TN, 23, Waitress
Rob did well and Chelsee got a round of applause from the contestants. They are both moving forward. This was a clear case where having a bit of previous stage experience certainly played in their favor.
When they came on stage in their audition, J.Lo said, they were her “Favorite couple on Idol in 10 years,” but will their love last in Hollywood. Nick Fink, Scottsdale, AZ, 19, is a Suit Salesmen, and Jacqueline Dunford, Scottsdale, AZ, 22, is a Receptionist. At first, Nick Fink and his girlfriend were in the row together and then Nick went to the front. Randy said, “Back of the line, congratulations.” Sadly, Jacqueline is moving forward, and Nick is not. In sheer desperation, Nick begged for another chance but he did not get it. Randy said, “We told you one shot. Sometimes you get a bad audition. Things happen. Sorry man.” It was a sad moment. Jacqueline said, they had not entertained the idea of one of them not making it and she seemed as if she were in shock.
Scotty McCreery, Garner, NC, 17, Student
Scotty auditioned in Milwaukee, and has an extremely deep voice. He said when I thought about what I was going to do for the audition I thought I would show case my best song because it highlights my deep voice. It is my best song; why not give them my best? He once again performed “Just to be your man.” All I can say is that Scotty is another singer I could listen to for hours on end; I just hope he can be flexible enough to stay in the game.
Jackie Wilson, Nashville, TN, 28, Bar Manager/ Singer – From when we saw her on her first audition, Jackie got a new do and some new duds, but unfortunately she didn’t have the attitude and power in her voice like she had the last time.
Jerome Bell, New York, NY, 27, Bar Mitzvah Singer. They impressed their peers and the judges agreed.
Tiffany Rios, Morris Plains, NJ, 21, Dance Instructor
Tiffany had a bit of an attitude when she came on stage, saying, “I’m tired of seeing other people attempting to do what I know I can do.” It raised eyebrows with the judges, and I thought, boy, I hope she delivers after a statement like that. She did. She put it all out there, giving a riveting, and well-measured performance. Unlike many of the other fearful contestants, she belted the song; she walked the stage and clutched the rail as she ended her audition with flair.
Travis Orlando, Bronx, NY, 17, Student – did not give a strong enough vocal.
Nevertheless, Tiffany went on. Travis said, “I’m not going to stop. Maybe I will be back next year.”
Others you might recognize. Clint Gamboa, Julie Zorilla, going through, White house intern made it, Emily Anne Reed. Overall, out of 327, 168 people are going to get another shot.
Next up, group rounds are coming and it is very tough. As to validate that, we get a preview of next week’s show and one of the contestants crying saying she wants to go home.
Fox Television, 2/9/2011, American Idol Auditions in Hollywood Week, Round 1