And so it has begun. On Wednesday night, all of the talent, carefully harvested from homes across the country by our three judges, descended upon Hollywood to endure (dim the lights please) the toughest week of their lives.
Surprisingly, unlike seasons past, the road to Hollywood was not the toughest weeks of viewer's lives this year, thanks to our new and disturbingly functional panel of judges. Typically, by the time Hollywood Week arrives, viewers are so sick of the judging panel they're ready to gouge their eyes out and can't help but wonder why in the world they chose to write about this dreadful show for yet another season. (Oh wait, is that just me?)
But as wonderful as the judges might seem to American Idol viewers, parked comfortably in their own homes, they certainly didn't seem quite as benevolent to the unsettled contestants as they strode into the hangar looking like they were getting ready to film the 4th installment of The Matrix. One could just tell from Jennifer Lopez's bare midriff and leather skirt that they meant business.
The business at hand was the shocking new twist to Hollywood Week; what Ryan Secrest is calling, "Hollywood or Home." What, you may be asking yourselves, could this shocking new development be? Well, hold on to your hats, America, because American Idol is going to revolutionize singing competitions the world over. The judges are going to call peoples' names, have them sing and then either advance them to the next round or send them home!
Just wait, it's only a matter of time before the other TV singing competitions start shamelessly copying American Idol's visionary plot twists.
In this impromptu and unexpected (let's just call a spade, a spade) audition, the 52 contestants whom the judges were on the fence about after reviewing their handiwork were asked to sing and then were separated into two buses, one headed to the hotel, the other to the airport. Yup, that qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment, for sure.
After jettisoning a bus full of competitors, American Idol was ready to call it a night and start all over again the following day. On Hollywood Week Day 2, the contestants took to the stage in groups of 10 and each performed briefly either a cappella or with an instrument. This is really the time to shine since everyone knows that after this round, the contestants will be forced to perform in groups, so it is important to make a lasting impression while the contestants still have total control of their own fate.
One contestant who seized the moment was Spencer Lloyd who performed, "Say Something," while playing the keyboard. Spencer is what many would call a pretty boy but there was something so captivating about his performance that even Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. had wistful expressions and stars in their eyes as they listened to Spencer.
But don't crown him the winner just yet. Kenzie Hall's performance of "Can't Hold Us," was equally as riveting. Sure, she doesn't have the dark, wavy hair and dimples, but she might have just eked out Spencer in the vocal department. Then there was Briston Maroney's version of "Royals," by Lorde, which in fairness wasn't as strong as Kenzie and Spencer's but his youthful charm was infectious.
Day 2 also reunited Harry and 19-year-old Munfarid Zaidi, who Harry cradled in his arms during his Austin audition. After his completely unique performance of "Rolling," (a song that has just been obliterated over the 13 seasons of American Idol), Munfarid deserves to be cradled throughout this competition; perhaps even right into the finale! But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Group Rounds were next and as history has shown us, they have the tendency to exacerbate even the slightest personality flaws as people attempt to navigate their way through a hotel that seems to immediately become pervaded by narcissism and influenza once people are told to form groups. (If I didn't know better, I'd think the American Idol producers were piping mind-altering toxins in through the duct work to see which district's tributes would persevere.)
After a tense and sleepless night for many, the contestants will all face the judges during Thursday's episode of American Idol, which we can only hope proves to be more exciting than Wednesday's two-hour episode. The cumulative two-minutes of air time for Spencer, Kenzie, Briston and Munfarid was not quite enough to justify the other 118.
Come back Friday to see if your favorites made it through and if you don't have favorites, come back anyway and I'll tell you who you should like and why!