American Idol: Episode Nine of Season Nine--Hollywood Week

2/10/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes

I may be the rare person who strongly prefers the actual "American Idol" competition to the audition episodes. Don’t get me wrong--I love the first episode one or two of auditions, but by the third or fourth week, I am more than ready to move on to something more substantial. I was especially ready this year, because Hollywood week signaled the introduction of the fourth judge, Ellen DeGeneres, and I was curious to see her in action. I always felt that Ellen would make a great addition to the show--I felt that she had the confidence and humor to thrive in the position, and because she isn’t as loopy as Paula, there was the sense that might actually be more respected. Her first night as a judge proved my suspicions correct.

When it comes to Hollywood week, particularly the first day of cut-and-dry auditions, you can’t expect any big surprises. It’s a true weed-out process, and it’s typically safe to say that the people you loved from auditions will make it through, and the people who barely made it to Hollywood will be sent home.

Last night, there were very few, if any, surprises.

So far, my favorite contestant of this season, Andrew Garcia, was--not surprisingly--my favorite of the night. During Hollywood week, contestants have the option to accompany their singing with a musical instrument, and Andrew brought out his acoustic guitar to perform a rendition of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.” As far as music goes, I tend to be a big fan of acoustic versions of songs you normally wouldn’t expect to hear in that capacity; in terms of past "American Idol" performances, I really enjoyed Kris Allen’s acoustic version of Kanye West’s “Heartless” last season. All I have to say about Andrew is that when your competition is singing, cheering and clapping for you, that is something huge. Kara told him that his performance was “genius” and I happen to agree--I thought he was amazing.  To me, he is a very early front-runner this season.

Another stand-out contestant I remember really liking from his auditions was Michael Lynche, who received word before his audition that his wife had just gone into labor with their first child. Not letting that news throw him off his game, Michael rose to the occasion in a big way, putting a great new spin on a John Mayer song. My favorite female of the season thus far, Didi Benami, also shined in Hollywood week, and performed better than in her audition. Choosing to sing a song written by Kara DioGuardi (a trend among female contestants this season) with her acoustic guitar, Didi regained any confidence she was lacking in her Los Angeles audition and gave a flawless audition. Both Didi and Michael are contestants I feel deserve to be in the Top 24, and are very much worth looking out for in the coming episodes.

Some other contestants I liked from the earlier auditions who gave great performances in Hollywood include: Mary Powers, the rocker mom with the raspy voice, who appropriately chose a Pink song to perform; Haeley Vaughn, the 16-year-old aspiring country star, who gave a solid guitar-driven performance; Katie Stevens, the 17-year-old with an incredible natural talent who is exceptionally close to her grandmother, who has alzheimers. Additionally, I really liked Casey James, and was shocked that the male judges found him to be boring. Casey took their criticism well, and emerged in Hollywood week with an energetic blues guitar set, and rightfully secured his spot in this competition; he’s someone I hope to see more of, especially since he is progressing in a way ideal to this competition.

Three females that I expect to see big things from moving forward also include Lilly Scott, a quirky guitar player with an incredible voice, and someone I had almost counted out after her initial audition; and Crystal Bowersox, who performed the Janis Joplin hit, “Piece of My Heart.” I felt that although she did it well, it was expected, safe and typical. I wasn’t too enthused by her until tonight’s performance of “Natural Woman.” The fact that she had everyone on their feet, cheering her on, shows that she has staying power in this competition. Continuing on the trend of really liking contestants who brought their guitars, I also feel that Janell Wheeler is talented and worth keeping an eye on.

Consequently, I felt there weren’t too many surprises in who went home. Everyone I felt who barely made it to Hollywood ultimately didn’t last very long. Contestants that were more infamous for their character--Skiibowski, or Cornelius Edward, the guy whose pants split--were shown the door. Vanessa Wolfe, the small-town Tennessee girl I didn’t think was terribly talented also failed to give a good audition and was sent home. Maegan Wright, more memorable because of her adorable brother, gave a weak audition and won’t be continuing on. The only somewhat surprising departure was Maddy Curtis, the first golden ticket of the season. In retrospect, she was somewhat forgettable, and after seeing talent like Andrew Garcia, I felt that this wasn’t the right competition for her. After she chose a terrible audition song for her Hollywood round, Maddy also is headed home.

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  1. Anonymous said...

    The mom that sang the Pink song, I actually thought she'd come under heat for that but maybe I'm jumping the gun; right on regarding that acoustic Paula Abdul guy--he's someone who I'd really look forward to for his song interpretations/new arrangements each week; and I, for some reason, though Skiiboski would pull through the gimmicks...but he was really bad last night. Looking forward to your recap of tonight's show!