Sign Up for the Daily TV Fodder Newsletter       
buy prednisone online no prescription buy zithromax buy strattera online no prescription payday loans buy clomid buy valtrex online buy buspar no prescription buy atarax online buy diflucan buy buspar no prescription

American Idol Fodder

American Idol: Hollywood Round 1

Some people may think the semifinals or the Top 12 are the hardest rounds to break into, but I’d say those people haven’t been watching very closely. The real talent starts to rise during “American Idol’s” Hollywood Week, when “Idol” hopefuls are put through a musical gauntlet.

During no other part of the competition will these singers be lined up in front of musical firing squads, be put down by a cranky British guy, or be forced to sing in harmony with a group of crazy strangers- all in the matter of a few days! It’s challenging, it’s exhausting and I love it. Hello room service, I’d like an order of drama with a side of tears please. Oh, and do you have any new judges on tap tonight?

That’s right, after weeks of taunting us, and parading an endless list of guest judges (some good, some bad, some Jonas) in front of us, the producers finally gave us Ellen DeGeneres. There’s been plenty of speculation about how the daytime TV host/comedian gets along with Simon, but it seemed to be smooth sailing tonight as Ellen seamlessly fit into Paula’s old chair.

Between cracking jokes about bare feet, Ellen gave her honest critiques about the singers, even if it meant sending them home. And seating her next to Simon is just interesting to watch.

But tonight was about the contestants, 181 of them to be exact, so here’s some of the most memorable showdowns from the first round in Hollywood:

Antonio “Skii bo ski” Wheeler vs. Katie Stevens: These two were part of the first group of eight to march in front of the judges. You might remember “Skii bo ski” as the Snoop Dogg wannabe from the Atlanta auditions, and Stevens as the sultry-toned singer from Boston. But Mr. Ski didn’t exactly wow the judges with his version of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” scaring Ellen in the process. (She quipped that he looked like he was stalking the audience.) But while Antonio didn’t make it any further, Katie’s winning performance of “For Once In My Life” got her one step closer to stardom. Simon and Randy were impressed by her “natural talent.”

Vanessa Wolfe vs. Andrew Garcia: In this head-to-head matchup, Tennessee bridge jumper Vanessa and son of former gang members Garcia both tried to prove their worth to the judges. Who had the upper hand? That would be Garcia, who blazed the stage with the most original cover since Kris Allen twisted Kanye West’s “Heartless” into a slow rock groove. Andrew busted out a guitar and played a crazy-cool jazzy-rock version of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.” He owned the stage and Kara called the performance “genius.” (By the way, I loved Kara’s comment that if Paula were there her arms would be “flapping.”) And with that, Andrew moved to the next round. That left poor Vanessa on shaky ground. With all the editing, it wasn’t clear whether she performed before or after Andrew, but the comparison couldn’t have helped. I named her as my favorite contestant from the auditions, partly because of her twangy voice and partly because of her personality, but her nerves got the better of her. It’s too bad she’s going home, because I would’ve liked to see what she could have done in the group round.

Jay Stone vs. Lilly Scott: This one wasn’t a fair fight. Jay Stone didn’t so much sing as he beatbox-sang, causing Ellen to joke “there’s something wrong with his mic.” Jay didn’t make it through, but Lilly Scott did with her amazing voice and choice of an Ella Fitzgerald ditty. If Lilly does make it through, I hope she keeps rocking the gray hair and peacock earrings. That look is just weird enough to work.

Maddy Curtis vs. Casey Jones: I felt bad about this one, especially since I was rooting for Maddy, the 16-year-old with several disabled brothers. She was very earnest and her powerful voice seemed like it could go far, but she messed up by singing a song way over her age-limit (something Simon hates!) In the end, the judges called it a case of too young and bad song choice, sending poor Maddy home in tears. But like her mother said, she’s only 16, so this isn’t the end of her career if she wants one. As for Mr. Jones, who you may remember as the guy Kara cajoled into taking off his shirt in the Denver auditions, he swayed the judges with his blues rock singing and personality. He may have a shot at being this year’s version of Bo Bice or Taylor Hicks.

Didi Benami vs. Crystal Bowersox: This match-up isn’t a competition because both singers are awesome and both made it to the next round. I said it before and I’ll say it again, Didi Benami will be in the Top 12. She’s that good, as evidenced by her Nora Jones/Colbie Caillat-esque performance of “Terrified.” As for Ms. Bowersox, she’s also a contender for Top 12 status, especially after her soulful, fun-to-listen-to version of “Natural Woman” which she crooned while playing guitar. I can’t wait to hear more from these two in the next round!

Amazingly, the producers didn’t pit all the contestants against each other in tonight’s heavily edited episode. This is how some other notable singers did:

Janell Wheeler- This Orlando auditioner sang a folksy cover of Estelle’s “American Boy.” She has an interesting tone and Ellen thinks she’s “amazing.” The judges sent her to the next round.

Haeley Vaughn- The 16-year-old country-pop princess from the Denver auditions intrigued the judges with her one-of-a-kind sound, plus she sounded pretty good as she strummed on her guitar. Her voice is a little rough around the edges, but she could be an undercover gem in the competition as she moves to the next round.

Mary Powers- The 28-year-old rocker mom with the raspy voice tackled Pink’s “Sober” and made it her own, though at times it was hard to distinguish her performance from that of Pink. She could be this year’s female rocker, a trail blazed by former contestants Allison Iraheta (Season 8) and Amanda Overmyer (Season 7).

But they can’t all make it, can they? Here’s who got sent packing:

-Cornelius “I split my pants and all I got was this lousy American Idol t-shirt” Edwards
-Megan “I thought I had this all locked up after my brother drew those pictures of the judges” Wright
-Amadeo “My mama makes a mean meatball” Diricco
-Erica “What do you mean my dominatrix outfit and whip didn’t work” Rose
- Sisters Bernadette and Amanda “We’re each other’s biggest fans” Desimone

And that was it for the first round as 96 people made it through. How did the beginning of this year’s Hollywood Round stack up to years past? Are you missing Paula Abdul yet or did the arrival of Ellen DeGeneres dry your tears? Is there any truth to an underlying tension between Simon and Ellen? And did the show save the best auditions for last? Post below and be back Wednesday night for Round 2 in Hollywood, the fate-deciding group performances! –Chris Sardelli

Posted by Chris on February 10, 2010 12:15 AM
Permalink |

More Recent Stories:
American Idol: Hollywood Round 2
American Idol: Hollywood Round 1
American Idol: Best of the Rest Auditions
American Idol: Denver Auditions
American Idol: Dallas Auditions
American Idol: L.A. Auditions
American Idol: Orlando Auditions
American Idol: Chicago Auditions
American Idol: Atlanta Auditions
American Idol: Boston Auditions