Each year, American Idol has a Hollywood Week to whittle down the 200 or so contestants to the first voting round (20 contestants make the voting rounds for Season 10). This article discusses who fared well on the edited TV show. The actual Hollywood Week takes place well before February, but the first round of Season 10 aired on February 10, 2011.
The first day of American Idol Hollywood Week consists primarily of solo performances of the contestants. Randy Jackson claimed at the outset that there is a great deal of talent for Season 10. The performances are a capella.
On some years, instruments are allowed for the first round. But no singer at all was shown using an instrument while giving these a capella instruments. It is thought (although it may not be true) by many fans that the show is looking for a vocal pop star this year to reverse the results of recent years, which has seen one singer-songwriter with a guitar after another winning three years in a row. Perhaps this is the way Idol is choosing to make it tough on these singer-songwriters (deprive them of their instruments so it is easier to cut them).
Brett Loewenstern comes out first. He is 16 and from Boca Raton, Florida. Brett was very nervous, and his “being picked on” backstory is played again. He sang “Let it Be” by The Beatles. This guy has a great vocal tone. The control and pacing could be better, but that was maybe just because it was a capella. It was definitely a good start to Hollywood Week for Season 10, though. Brett says he is done being a victim, which is a nice thing to hear. And I believe Brett has earned his spot based on talent up to this point (mainly for his vocal tone). Brett made it through to the group round, which will be aired on Wednesday, February 16, 2011.
Rachel Vevita gave another performance that seemed to show some good range. This girl has a good voice, but her problem seems to be interpretation. Rachel’s performances seem to lack emotion and are somewhat disjointed. Thia sang “Summertime” and seemed to be very soulful. Both of these girls advanced to the group round. Thia seems to have more potential at this point.
Casey Abrams was shown singing next. His “Birdland” performance was a very powerful version of this jazz classic. Casey sounds like he needs to be careful with his interpretation, as some may think he is sometimes screaming at inappropriate times; but there is no perfect way of singing, and the guy can definitely sing . He would still be my personal favorite so far. The singers waiting in the crowd were very fun last year, even singing backup for Crystal Bowersox. This crowd was a bit more subdued but gave cheers to certain contestants. The crowd seemed to like Casey.
Victoria Huggins, the hyper and overconfidence contestant. She is from Lumberton, NC. It sounded like from Victoria’s short clip that she gave a pretty good country performance. The dynamics definitely could have been better, though, and the adorable Victoria was cut . She apparently brought 11 bags with her.
James Durbin probably raised his stock again tonight. He gave a very powerful performance. Some people are already claiming he is just a loud screamer, but we really don’t know how good his dynamics are just yet. And it’s hardly fair to compare anyone to Adam Lambert. Someone compares him to Adam, and then an Adam fan gets upset at the comparison. Hello, Adam fans. Who IS going to be as good as Adam? That’s not a fair assessment. We need to wait a bit to see how good this guy is, but he is likely at least gaining in popularity after being featured twice now.
Lauren Alaina Suddeth sang “Unchained Melody.” Some people have pegged Lauren as the favorite. I still don’t see what is supposed to be special about her other than an amazing vocal tone. She is trying hard to show dynamics, but it sounds a bit like Siobhan Magnus’s style of singing – the voice is there, but the musical sensibilities are not there just yet. I predict now that she will not win unless she improves dramatically in song interpretation over what we have seen so far. That is going to be difficult to do at 15 (she is 16 now).
Chris Medina probably got a few more fans tonight, as his story about himself and girlfriend Juliana Ramos was replayed (his girl has brain damage from a car accident that changed their wedding plans). He was shown singing, but it was a very short clip. We will need to see Chris deliver a complete performance first, but the strong likelihood is that he will be advancing.
Other contestants that did great during the first round of Hollywood Week for Season 10 included Jacee Badeaux, Robbie Rosen, Hollie Cavanagh (much more confident and improved over her first audition) and Scott McCreery. Jacee’s small clip showed him singing “God Bless the Broken Road” with a beautiful vocal tone. He was also cheered on heavily by the crowd. Robbie Rosen has a beautiful voice. It is not as unique as Jacee’s voice, but he does seem to have a lot more power. These two are not perennial favorites but could go far in the competition if picked by the judges for the Top 20.
Jackie Wilson and Jerome Bell were seen singing the same song they had already performed, which just seems odd all by itself. However, Scott McCreery also did the same thing. I’m not sure what these singers were thinking,as it just seems so odd to give a repeat performance on a show that values versatility. I predict all three of these singers are going to have versatility problems. Jerome has the added disadvantage of singing almost exactly like Jerome Sellers. That R&B style has never worked for the main Idol demographic groups. Why would it work now?
All in all, it would appear that no star was created during this first round of Hollywood Week for Season 10 of American Idol. There is no clear favorite right now. Perhaps that favorite is being held back for the time being. There is a lot of strong overall talent, though. The group round is up next, so we shall see who cracks under the pressure.
American Idol Website