'American Idol' recap: Finally, it's Hollywood!

Here's Janell on the first Hollywood Week episode of American Idol. Beware, people: It's going to be brutal! And by brutal I mean that they finally have to say "no":

Yo, yo dawgs! It be Hollywood week up in here! Ryan Seacrest calls it an epic journey, and it is so epic that it will take more than a week to journey through it. He also tells us that we have double the amount of contestants to start out with, 327 total. Let the epic journey begin with a single step: the sudden death a cappella round.

Now, some of these people I remember right off, and some I don't. I figure it doesn't entirely matter until the herd is thinned, but I will at least try to write the names that appear on screen. That way you, the reader, can refresh your recollection (BAM! I just lawyered you) by reading the prior recaps, and I, the recapper, can sit lazily on my couch and let my recollection remain unrefreshed.

Oh, but I remember this first guy: Brett Loewenstern, 16 years old, he auditioned in New Orleans. He had the big crazy red hair and he was bullied for being different, but now he's all zen. To further prove his zenacity, he sings "Let It Be." He makes it through to the next round, and tells the camera that he's done feeling like a victim. Good for him. I shouldn't stereotype redheads, but I am one, so I can -- he reminds me a lot of snowboarder Shaun White, the "Flying Tomato," and I need someone to come up with an adorable tomato nickname for him. In the meantime, I guess I'll call him the Adorable Tomato.

Rachel Zevita, who auditioned in New York and may or may not be the singing waitress, moves forward. Thia Megia, a 15-year-old who auditioned in Milwaukee, moves on. So does Casey Abrams, who auditioned in Austin.


Here’s another memorable character: 17-year-old Victoria Huggins. She’s a sweet Southern firecracker who is brimming with self-confidence, and she has videotaped her entire audition process and put clips up on YouTube. She has one of the strongest personalities. While she sings, she struts the stage and claps, and the editors show us an audience of non-reactive faces. Her voice is OK, but monotone, and after all that buildup, she is sent home. Victoria feels confident that at least North Carolina is proud of her.

James Durbin, the guy with Tourette’s who we just met last night, sails through. Paris Tassin, whose daughter has hearing loss, makes it through. Lauren Alaina is 15 and I don’t remember her, but she makes it. Stormi Henley, former Miss Teen USA, does not make it to the next round. Jennifer Lopez was right about her. May this be one of many times that J.Lo is right, because I want her to be an awesome judge. (What?! Did I just compliment Jennifer before even mentioning Steven Tyler in this recap? Yep. Steven’s busy and focused this episode, nothing crazy, just kicking back, being awesome.)


Remember Chris Medina, whose fiancee was in an accident and now she’s in a wheelchair? He’s on to the next round. Remember Jacee Badeaux, the 15-year-old boy who looks like a baby and we’re all afraid that Hollywood Week will eat him? He’s not eaten yet. Robbie Rosen and Hollie Cavanagh also move on.

Even though the judges don’t critique the performances, they are shown tapping their water glasses with their pens as rebellious, understated applause.

Someone who does not get applause: accountant Steve Beghun. Hope he kept his day job. The girl named Sarah who looked like our own SKK is sent home, which is good because then SKK won’t have to read any more recaps containing the phrase “Sarah who looks like our own SKK.” Jacklyn Dupree, whose uncle was Randy Jackson’s high school football coach, proves that nepotism is dead and is sent home. Also leaving is that belly dancer girl who I ignored.

Day 1 is over. I’m pretty sure they didn’t see everyone on Day 1, because Day 2 is more of the same.

Here are Rob Bolin and Chelsee Oaks, the ex-couple who sing lovely duets together. They are unsurprisingly set up as roommates with Nick Fink and Jacqueline Dunford, the excessively affectionate couple. Ryan interviews the four of them together, and learns that they all brushed their teeth together the night before. He asks Rob, “How will you ever move on from this relationship if you all use the same sink?” Rob will have to figure out an answer to that question, because both he and Chelsee move on to the next round.

Nick and Jacqueline are not so lucky. He’s kind of off-key, and gets eliminated. While people shuffle off the stage, he grabs the microphone and asks to sing another song. Randy reminds him that he only gets one shot. Jacqueline is slowly making her way up the aisle, away from Nick, during this period. He finally starts walking, but then sings in the aisle. Jacqueline keeps walking. They meet up outside the auditorium to talk with Ryan. Nick hugs and kisses Jacqueline, while her body language is quite silent. Ryan coolly observes them, so Nick asks Ryan if Ryan is “hurt” by this heartbreaking affront to true love, or if he’s too washed out emotionally after 10 years of this. If Nick weren’t so delusional, I think Ryan would enjoy that question more.

Scotty McCreery is the deep-voiced, 17-year-old cowboy. He sings the same song from his original audition, and makes it through. Jackie Wilson and Jerome Bell reprise their audition numbers and also move forward.

Tiffany Rios wore a bra with giant stars over her lady parts during her first audition. Now she’s in Hollywood with a lot of glitter in her hair and all over her body. (

SKK: And, uh, she appears to be reprising the outfit, minus the stars, and she clearly forgot part of her outfit -- her shirt is entirely see through. Oy.

) She starts off by saying, “I’m tired of seeing people try to do what I can.” Not the friendliest personality, but she’s got a big voice. J.Lo asides to the other judges, “I like her, she crazy!” She moves on.

Travis Orlando was homeless for a while, and his story was sad and triumphant, and now it’s over. He’s sent home.

In a final montage we learn a few more people that make it through, including Naima the stadium cleaner woman (I think), the Gutierrez brothers, the White House intern, Emily of the old-fashioned Betty Boop voice, Stefano with the scars from a big accident, and Ashley Sullivan. A total of 168 move on, so the judges cut half of the herd.


Next Wednesday the group auditions begin, and Ryan foreshadows that some early favorites will fall, while new stars appear. Yay! I’m excited to start remembering some of these people. So, are you shaken up by anything in tonight’s episode? We lost a few people who had been memorable for their stories but not necessarily their voices, so I don’t think I miss anyone yet.

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