Season 9 - EPISODE RECAPS
Tuesday, February 9th 2010
by The AI Insider
One of the neat things about Hollywood week is that the contestants may either sing a capella or play an instrument while they sing. I vote for singing a capella while playing the air guitar. At least that way you don't have to worry about breaking a string or a nail.
High school student Katie Stevens kicked off the show with Stevie Wonder's "For Once In My Life," a song that may seem old for her and has been sung so many times before, yet Katie's pure vocals and maturity made the performance relevant. Simon commented, "You're quite good," and Randy still believes in Katie's natural talent. When we met Antonio "Skiiboski" Wheeler in Atlanta, he had the American Idol logo buzzed into his hair. In Hollywood, Skiiboski had a new non-trademarked 'do and left his misspelled Skiiboski shirt at home. He traipsed across the stage and sang "Ain't Too Proud To Beg." This was Ellen's first Skiiboski experience, and you can only imagine what was going through her head, but you don't have to imagine because she put it all out there saying, "You frighten me. You were stalking us. You were like a leopard behind a cage...Sexy and scary--it's a fine line." After every contestant in this subgroup sang, we found out that Katie is moving on but Skiiboski is not. As the contestants cleared the stage, Skiiboski stuck around to ride out his last few seconds of stardom to ask why it's a "no" for him. Simon frankly said, "You're just not a good enough singer." Skiiboski couldn't argue with that so he left the stage and sang his name "Skiii Boooo Skiii." Oh Skiiboski baby, we'll miss you and your misspelled garments.
Andrew Garcia was the father who impressed the judges in L.A., and this time he sang a song in honor of our former judge, Paula Abdul. He took on her hit, "Straight Up," on his acoustic guitar and gave us a great sample of what he can do with songs. Kara said, "Andrew, that was genius." She and Ellen joked that Paula would have loved that and she would have given it her signature seal clap. Kara even compared Andrew to Adam Lambert, saying that he has a similar way of taking a song and flipping it. Vanessa Wolfe from Vonore, TN took her very first "aeroplane" ride and arrived in Hollywood. She was loving every minute of the big city, but was visibly nervous before and during her audition. Her vocals on "No Rain" were rough, and the judges pointed out that Vanessa took a risk that didn't pay off. After each person in this group performed, the judges revealed that Andrew is moving on but Vanessa is going back on an aeroplane. On the bright side, at least now she knows what it's like to go on a whirlwind trip.
Although playing an instrument helps some people as an artist, there were several contestants whose musical instruments distracted them and affected their voice. Pants-splitter Cornelius Edwards, big sister Maegan Wright, Italian family man Amedeo DiRicco, Austin Simmons, Katelyn Clampett, Amber Caparas, and Bosa Mora were some of the contestants whose auditions suffered.
Janell Wheeler took a risk when she performed an acoustic version of Estelle's "American Boy" with her guitar. Ellen thought it was an amazing performance and Simon said, "Good audition, well done."
After watching many contestants struggle with singing while playing an instrument, Haeley Vaughn was nervous about her decision to bring out her guitar. She sang "Change" by Taylor Swift, and Randy thought her performance was interesting. Rocker mom Mary Powers also made a risky decision, but not one involving an instrument. She sang Pink's "Sober," a track penned by judge Kara DioGuardi. Hail Mary! Haeley and Mary took chances that paid off.
At the end of day one, four singers awaited their fate. Ellen had one step forward and then another step forward. Then she had the first one move back, and had all four step in different directions as if it were one of those Kid's Meal tile-slide puzzles that I can never figure out. After all that shuffling, Ellen sent them all through to the next round. Ellen's jokester nature broke the tension at the end of the day, and 46 contestants from the day one group were partying in the halls.
Day two brought in a new crop of singers. Beatboxer Jay Stone performed "If I Ever Fall In Love," but there was so much boxing and so little singing, I wouldn't have known that was the song he took on if it weren't for this handy song choices list I have in front of me. Ellen commented that his microphone must be broken. Lilly Scott is a 20 year old sandwich maker with a hair color that is difficult to classify. Is it platinum, gray, purple, or blue? I'm not sure, but I can tell that Lilly has a good recording voice. She played a very worn out guitar which could be a sign that she's been playing for many years. Kara is a fan of Lilly's and we learn that she is moving on, but Jay Stone is not.
As Michael Lynche prepared for his Hollywood performance, he received a call from his wife, who we met last week during the Road to Hollywood episode. She is going into labor and Michael is all the way across the U.S. As "Big Mike" took the stage, he told the judges that they better let him through because his wife will kill him if he misses the birth of his child and doesn't make it. He also joked that he'd beat up anyone who says otherwise, and judging by Big Mike's size, you don't want to mess with him! Mike played John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change" on his acoustic guitar, and his fellow contestants in the audience sang the back-up "waiting" lyrics much like Randy Jackson did when David Archuleta auditioned with this song. This successful performance means that Big Mike won't be heading home for the arrival of his child quite yet.
Tim Urban strapped on his guitar and sang David Cook's "Come Back To Me." It's always risky to sing a winning American Idol's song, especially this early on in the competition, but Tim pulled it off. Another good looking hopeful, Justin Williams, sat down at the keys to sing "Fly Me To The Moon." He tends to choose very old fashioned songs. After his group performed, the judges moved Tim on to the next round, but let Justin Williams, along with hometown stand-outs Paige DeChausse, Erica Rhodes, and the Desimone sisters, home.
Maddy Curtis was the first person we met that received a Golden Ticket to Hollywood. Her decision to sing a Norah Jones song didn't sit well with the judges. Casey James took the stage and was wearing a shirt this time. It is either the same shirt or a very similar shirt to the one he took off at his Denver audition...and I'm ashamed that I paid that close of attention to his shirt. He played blues guitar and seemed to be in his element. I get a definite Bucky Covington vibe from him. The camera cut away as the judges determined who from Casey and Maddy's group would advance in the competition. Then we saw Casey spring out from the theatre as happy as can be, and Maddy exited a few seconds later and she looked devestated. As Maddy cried in her mom's arms, she was reminded that she's only 16 and this is the first of many chances for the young girl.
Didi Benami made a bold move in selecting Kara DioGuardi's "Terrified" to sing and strum in front of the judges. She has a great voice and comes across as a very current artist. Didi reminds me very much of Season 7's Brooke White. Simon said, "I hate to admit it, but I really like that song." Cowell also likes the idea of a waitress coming on the show and doing well...much like Season 1's Kelly Clarkson. Crystal Bowersox got a tattoo during her time in Hollywood, and she hopes it will be good luck. She inked her son's name on her back, so hopefully it won't be bad luck since his name is about as permanent as a tattoo. She sang "Natural Woman" with the acoustic guitar, and again the playful audience sang back-up vocals. They also cheered for her when she hit the high notes. I love this season's camaraderie already. You wouldn't look at the dreadlocked Crystal with her lip ring and tattoos and think, "She has to sing Aretha," which is wonderfully fascinating. Simon called her "infectious" and Randy felt mad love for her. Ellen revealed the verdict from Didi and Crystal's group of performers, and Crystal, Didi, and a few others from their group are moving on.
At the end of round one in Hollywood, 181 contestants were narrowed down to 95. Next up is Hollywood week's group night, which is always sure to be dramatic, entertaining, and filled with tears and cheers. I can't wait!