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'American Idol': Hooray for Hollywood

Yay, we're done with the horrible part of American Idol and on to the part where people can actually sing! Well, at least in theory. Certainly some of the 172 people who made it to Hollywood are going to be bad, and certainly some good people are going to not make the trim down to 24, so there will still be heartbreak and all that drama, too. So here we go.

Ryan Seacrest introduces us to the evening with the reminder that Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee and Chris Daughtry are "powerhouses in the music industry." Well, at least for the moment. This whole phenomenon hasn't been around long enough to prove whether any of the Idols have career-long staying power. Nearly twice as many women as men made it this far, but it's going to be trimmed down to 12 guys and 12 girls, so the cuts are going to be rougher on the female side.

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Each woman gets 30 seconds to wow the judges on stage, but with no feedback until all six have gone.

Jory Steinberg is up first in her Paula-esque outfit, followed quickly by the rest of her group of six. They are all cut, and the pressure mounts.

Perla Meneses believes she is a superstar already, for unknown reasons. Army reservist Rachel Jenkins sings next. Perla makes it through (along with someone whose name we aren't given), but Rachel is not. Simon lectures Perla that at the moment, she is personality over talent (which is why I would have cut her from the beginning, but what do I know?). They both cry.

Bailey Brown, the small-town Texas girl, is next. She makes it, along with two girls from her group. Ashlyn Karr (who got a second chance in San Antonio) is cut, as is Porcelana (the girl who trained like Rocky), and so is Sarah Burgess (the girl who lied to her parents about going to the first round of auditions). Nicole Turner has been battling with her mom all day about what she should sing. She sings "Ain't No Way," her mom's choice, but then she is cut. So of course, she blames it on the song, not the voice. Her mom goes out to talk to the judges, but Simon says it wasn't the song. She finally leaves.

Fifty-seven women are cut in the first day's auditions.

The guys are up the next day.

Brian Miller, who made it to Hollywood last season, is up first. Jarrod Fowler, the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan Idol winner and Navy guy, sings next. Matt Sato (show choir kid whose parents didn't come to the auditions with him) just wants to be loved (yes, he basically says that). Matt makes it through (along with zany Chris), but Jarrod doesn't. Jarrod says it was a great experience and wouldn't trade it for anything. Matt cries, and tells us his mother never says she loves him, either. (Earlier he pointed out that she hardly ever hugs him.) Now it's getting a little awkward.

That's all they are going to show us of the guys, but 34 make it through.

After the break, it's time for the group auditions. The practices are always so uber-dramatic. Fun!

The teams break themselves into a group of four, and the group must choose a song from one of nine. Matt Sato is having a rough time finding a group to join up with. Another Matt, the tall one of the singing cowboys from last season, is among the people who turn down Matt S.

Bailey Brown is stuck between best friends whose names I am forgetting.

Perla's group is having issues with her lack of ability to harmonize.

Bailey Brown's group is doing better, except that they don't know the lyrics. Amanda leaves to go flirt with the boys.

Perla and Gina's group is still having trouble with Perla's lack of ability to harmonize.

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As it begins, Simon tells everyone: DO NOT FORGET YOUR WORDS. Yeah, nerves and less than 24 hours to prepare aren't a combination that's going to let that be well heeded.

Matt Sato forgets his words and gets sent home.

Perla and Gina's group is up, and the drama continues. Perla gets cut, but the rest of the group is through.

Chris Sligh, Rudy Cardenas, Blake Lewis and Thomas Lowe's group actually has it down and gets some help from Blake's beatboxing. They all get through.

Sundance Head is worried after a lackluster first day and hopes the group sing goes better. He makes it through, but the girls he sang with do not. He is shocked and doesn't think he should have made it.

Bailey, Amanda and Antonella are up. Bailey blanks big time, and then Amanda does, too. Bailey is out, and she is upset. She had been saying earlier in the day that she needed to work on her lyrics some more, but Amanda wasn't interested. This makes Amanda look particularly horrible when she says she got through because "God likes good people," implying that Bailey isn't a good person? What the heck? Bailey tries to confront them, but Amanda says they weren't flirting, that it's a job interview that they take seriously (cut to footage from the previous evening of her flirting). Memo to Amanda: You sing through your nose, and you aren't very nice.

Thirty-six more were cut at the end of group day, trimming down to 56. Sixteen more will be cut before the end of the episode. The contestants are divided into three rooms. Twenty are in room one, and they are through. Room two also makes the cut. Room three already knows what's up because they heard the celebrating in the other two rooms. Antonella realizes her friend didn't make it through, and Sanjaya realizes his sister didn't make it, but those two did.

Tomorrow, this final 40 will be cut to 24, most likely in an episode full of waiting on benches, waiting in elevators and then talking to the judges and finding out their fate.

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