So Hollywood Week on American Idol is where the magic happens, right? Well, kinda. There’s magic, alright, but some of it seems like black magic, because some of it was so bad that there must have been a hex on those folks. It’s also magic that they’ve now been able to take a week’s worth of tryouts, and turn it into two weeks of programming, as Hollywood Week will wrap up NEXT week. Let’s go to the tape!
Tuesday Night – Initial Song:
One whole hour of auditions, and I wrote down six names of folks I was impressed by. Not a good start, but definitely better than an audition show. First off, Lil Rounds (left) sang the Whitney version of “I Will Always Love You”, and as much as I hate to admit it, she tore it up. Still should be a song never attempted in that form, but she did alright. Jasmine Murray lost some of that nasally sound, and really did a great job with “The Trouble With Love”. I really enjoyed Stephen Fowler’s take on Stevie Wonder, and Jeremy Michael Sarver (I think there’s another Michael Sarver out there, hence the Jeremy addition) also gave a pretty soulful performance. Danny Gokey’s take on Seal was alright, although I wasn’t in love with it like Paula, but the highlight for me only lasted 10 seconds. Matt Giraud, dueling piano player from Kalamazoo, showed he not only has the vocals, but he also has the image and presence to truly challenge for the title of American Idol.
I probably should mention some of the folks that dropped off in the first round, but most of them had to go. “You all SUCK as judges” will ring in my head for several days. One singer who I was sad to see go, though, was Jessica Furney. I’m assuming it wasn’t that great, because they didn’t even bother show her singing, but who knows how these things go down.
Night 2 – Group Day:
Group Day is the stuff of legends. Throw three or four strangers together, and you might get instant chemistry. As in EXPLOSIVE chemistry! So let’s talk about the inspirational performances. “White Chocolate” contained two potential stars in Matt Giraud (right) and India Morrison. While Matt played the Justin Timberlake role well, India blew everyone away with her rap in the mix. It seems like she’s being positioned for the Blake Lewis role in this season, but I hope she’s treated legitimately, instead of as just a novelty.
One group went the a capella route, and it paid big dividends, with all four members making it through. Besides Danny Gokey again, keep an eye out on Taylor Vaifanua, who looked drastically different from her audition, but it really worked in her favor. It also was a good night for folks who sang “Some Kind of Wonderful”, including Broadway singer Adam Lambert and Jesse Langseth.
So next week will be final songs that will lead to the Top 50, and then final cuts, which will pare the group down to 36 and send them into competition for America’s votes. While I like what I’m seeing of the remaining contestants, I have a simple mantra for the next round: “No more Von Smith!”