American Idol: Hollywood Week, Part 1
Is it a bad omen that one of the better singers we saw during the first two days of Idol's Hollywood Week auditions fell off the stage and hit her head?
And more importantly, is the poor girl all right? Nigel Lythgoe and his co-conspirators are going to make us wait until Thursday night to find out, which strikes me as kind of a tacky use of a cliffhanger.
As the show ended, Symone Black, 16, had just sang "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" and stepped forward to talk to the judges. She slipped off the stage and hit her head, and we saw people huddled around her while Nigel called for a medic.
"Tomorrow night, find out what happens to Symone ... and the pressure is building ... as we get ready for group night," said Ryan Seacrest's voiceover.
Well okay, if you insist.
As for the rest of the episode, it was another blink and you'll miss them set of auditions.
The part of me that comes home, watches shows and writes recaps after a full day of work is kind of glad Wednesday's episode was only an hour long. But the part of me that's just an ordinary viewer is annoyed that Idol is still being so stingy with the singers.
In particular, it was difficult to keep up with who moved forward and who was sent home.
Contestants hit the stage 10 at a time and sang a few bars a cappella. Then the judges conferred and cut some people on the spot, sending others to the next round.
In the first group, for instance, previous favourites Johnny Keyser and Heejun Han were told they were staying, along with Gabi (I'm not sure if it's Gabi Carrubba, the tap dancer we saw in Savannah, or someone else), which made me think only those three had been spared. But then we saw a couple more people cheering as they spilled out into the hallway. Were they not worthy of having their names mentioned?
Another quibble: Ryan said there would be no feedback after the performances, but Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were all very vocal about the singers they liked, which sounds like feedback to me.
Mind you, I wouldn't want to be the one to try to get Steven Tyler to stick to a plan.
We know that 309 people made it to Hollywood (Ryan called them "the nation's elite," which is silly; they're unproven singers chasing a dream) and 68 of them had been cut by the end of Day 1.
Here's who we saw on Wednesday:
Johnny Keyser, 23: He's the server from Hollywood whom JLo said was going to be a star. He is cocky as all get out, but I still love his voice. Randy responded by saying "Amen" over and over after Johnny sang Amos Lee's "Dreamin'."
Heejun Han, 22: I hope Heejun stays around just for comic relief. Take the following monologue: "I got here and everyone's so tall, so pretty. And even the guys are pretty. I don't know why; I don't know what they eat, but they're so good-looking. I just have to figure out how to overcome the beauty." I want that last sentence on a T-shirt. A very nervous Heejun sang Michael Bolton's "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" and it was very pretty, especially the last few phrases.
Elise Testone, 28: I have no recollection of seeing this woman, a vocal coach and musician from Charleston, S.C., at previous auditions. And that's too bad because she has an impressive set of pipes. Apparently, she's quite an experienced singer, so I have no idea why they've been keeping her under wraps until now and she got what? 12 seconds of airtime on Wednesday? She made it to the next round.
Baylie Brown, 21: It was another yes for the pretty blond nanny from Texas. She had good control and melody. Will she stand out from the crowd?
Hallie Day, 24: I continue to be impressed by this waitress from Baltimore with the hard luck story about drug addiction and attempted suicide. If only Lauren Alaina had put a fraction of her passion into "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" last season. She was an easy yes for the judges.
Jen Hirsh, 25: This is another mystery contestant who didn't get airtime during the previous auditions. Who knows why? She did a very solid job with Patty Griffin's "Up to the Mountain" and got to the next round.
Lauren Gray, 23: JLo was practically crowning Lauren champion at the St. Louis auditions, but we're not quite there yet. Her rough-edged voice is still appealing, but she better learn to open her eyes and look into the camera if she makes it to the live shows. She had them shut so tight she missed Randy's cut-off cue.
Phil Phillips, 21: Phil, who works in his dad's pawn shop back home in Leesburg, Ga., got the fish out of water treatment: golly, he'd never been on a real plane before, imagine that. When it came to the singing, his facial contortions weren't any less disconcerting than the first time we saw him, but his "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" got him to the next round.
Reed Grimm, 26: This stage veteran from a musical family seems to be the most eccentric contestant yet. After auditioning with the Family Matters theme song in Pittsburgh, he chose "I've Got a Golden Ticket" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for Hollywood. It was jazzy and fun, and won over the judges as well as his fellow contestants.
Travis Orlando, 18: I would have traded some of the time spent on Travis for a look at a good singer we didn't see. We had to be reminded that his mother had left her family, apparently for another relationship, with the implication that his father's and brother's happiness as well as his own were resting on Travis's Idol chances. But here's the thing: I didn't hear one bit of genuine emotion in his song, just a carefully constructed imitation of emotion, so it's no surprise that Travis struck out for a second season in a row.
Adam Brock, 27: I did not love Adam, though it's clear the show would like me to. We saw Adam in the holding room, we saw him at the Pittsburgh auditions singing "Stormy Weather" and confiding that "I have been told that there is a large black woman trapped inside of my body." We saw him with his wife and baby daughter, and tearfully missing that daughter. And we saw a snippet of "Walking in Memphis," which got Adam to the next round.
Jane Carrey, 24: At least we know now that having a famous father is no guarantee of Idol success, since Jim Carrey's look-alike daughter didn't make the cut. I thought her singing sounded fine. Maybe it was the oddness at the end, where she stood grinning at the judges and going "Eeeeeee" that pushed her into the no column. Like father, like daughter?
Shannon Magrane, 16: This tall Tampa teen with a father who pitched in a World Series belted out Alicia Keys' "Fallin'" and made it through to the next round, fortunately without Steven making any allusions to her being hot.
David Leathers Jr., 17: I'm wondering how long we'll have to put up with the chick magnet shtick for this high school student from North Carolina who looks like he's 12. His high voice is one of the more unusual ones in the competition. Thought it wasn't perfect, he managed to pull off a risky audition choice: Celine Dion's "Because You Love Me."
Jessica Phillips, 26: This Brooklyn receptionist sounded better to me than her original audition in Portland but still put some unnecessary flourishes on "He Fills Me Up." Still, the sentiment seemed to come from a real place, with her boyfriend, who is recovering from a stroke, cheering her on from the audience. She made it to the next round.
Erika Van Pelt, 26: This "mobile DJ" is growing on me. I enjoyed her big voice, but hopefully the Idol wardrobe department gets to her sooner rather than later. Those plaid shirts have gotta go.
Creighton Fraker, 28: I'm still not loving Creighton, a "starving artist" from New York City. I thought he oversang Queen's "Somebody to Love," but he got to the next round nonetheless.
Aaron Marcellus, 27: I thought I was really going to like this music teacher, whom we caught a glimpse of in Pittsburgh, but that big run he did in "Starting Here, Starting Now," which he cornily dedicated to Jennifer and all the "ladies," was way too show-offish. He also made it to the next round.
Lauren Mink, 25: I have a soft spot for Lauren, who works with adults with disabilities. Alas, she chose one of the most overdone of songs for her audition, Heart's "Alone," and changed keys partway through, which Jennifer and Randy noted. We'll have to wait until Thursday to see if that cost her.
Jeremy Rosado, 19: I'm mystified why JLo was showing Steven the goosebumps on her arm while Jeremy sang Luther Vandross's "Superstar." I thought his read on it was corny, he didn't enunciate enough and I was distracted by his orange tongue.
Symone Black, 16: Poor Symone. She did some nice things with the melody of "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," particularly in the quiet part, before she started answering Randy's question about why she chose the song and fell off the stage. But the fall could mean the end of Idol for her this season.
We had some glimpses of contestants who didn't make it through and a few more who did. The unsuccessful ones included Heather Youmans, Sascha Julian, Candice Russell, Ramiro Garcia, Wolf Hamlin and Jenni Schick. Ones who got through whom we didn't see included purple-haired Angie Zeiderman and NBA cheerleader Brittany Kerr.
Thursday, we'll find out how the rest of the Day 2 crop did and presumably see some of the group round. It starts at 8 p.m. on CTV Two.