First up, thanks to John-John for filling in for me last-minute on Thursday. Have a bit of a family situation going on at the moment. Speaking of which, this won't be the usual minute-by-minute recap because I was watching on the TV in my son's hospital room. (He's going to be fine; we just had to get some tests done unexpectedly, and it's been taking a while.)

Anyway, enought about me and back to tonight's American Idol! Among the much-talked-about changes in this season were the decreased emphasis on bad auditions and the increased emphasis on the Hollywood round. Tonight's episode, though, didn't feel much different from the past Hollywood episodes. For the first part of Hollywood week, the contestants had to sing one song a capella and then either go to the next part or go home. Separating the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

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It felt like we didn't get to see that many people actually sing, just a lot of clips of background drama. One thing that was new was that the contestants got to consult with stylists and voice coaches before this round. Did it help any of them? Dunno, we didn't really get enough context to figure that out.

It seems like there were a ton of folks who made it to Hollywood and never got one lick of screen time. I know that happens every season, but I guess the shortened but still packed-with-filler auditions contributed, too.

So, some of the folks who made it through: Bikini Girl (who was rather unrecognizable with her clothes on, hmm), the best friends who included the guy whose wife passed away shortly before his first audition, Rose (the teen who recently lost both of her parents), and quite a few others.

If I recall correctly (but this is with low volume, half-attention and no notes), 104 people made it to the next part, the group auditions. We've been told the group auditions will get a lot more attention, and I hope that's true. The dynamics are always so interesting.

What did you think about tonight's show? Also, is it just me, or is new judge Kara DioGuardi still not really adding much to judges' table? Maybe during the live show. We'll see.

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