It's about to get real for the contestants of American Idol Season 14. From across the country, hopefuls will descend on Hollywood for the next round of competition.
They'll sing. They'll cry. They'll collapse from exhaustion. Many will be eliminated. And from these will emerge our Top 24.
Let's get to business...
As the contestants file into the Orpheum Theatre, one thing stands out: Guitars. Lots and lots of guitars.
The judges file in and tell the contestants they'll be hearing from everyone over the week, but first, there are some people they want to see again. The standouts.
None of the contestants know why they're being called. Did they suck in the auditions? Are the judges trying to make up their minds? Nerves, man. NERVES.
Jax, from the Brooklyn auditions, is called up first, which has to just suck for her. It's the first day, there are 200 people in the room who want to win, and you have to go FIRST. With no feedback from the judges until everyone has performed.
What happens is she sets the bar very, very high for everyone else.
Mark Andrew from Minneapolis goes next with his guitar, followed by Emily Brooke, a 15 year old from Florida. Sal Valentinetti croons his way through another performance and tries to find out what the judges are thinking before leaving the stage.
Toy designer Adam Ezegelian opts for an a cappella performance. He gets a little scream-y and maybe a smidge sharp, but the audience gives him a round of applause.
Tyanna Jones who flew from Florida to San Francisco to audition is invited to sing again for everyone and she kills it. This girl has soul and spirit and everything in between. Savion Wright follows her hoping this year will be his lucky year.
Hollywood Anderson, from the Brooklyn auditions, hits the stage in Hollywood week and sings Adele's "Someone Like You." Every. Single. Person. in the audience is like "Welp. Might as well just pack it up and go home. He just won it."
Jennifer doesn't like his reinterpretation and neither does Keith. He "wrecked it," according to J.Lo.
After telling the audience to calm down and breathe before singing, Jennifer calls Shannon Berthiaume to the stage to sing a little Stevie Wonder. She's doing great and everything is flowing and then she forgets the words. She took a beat and picked back up, but she definitely forgot the words.
Pretty sure I can hear Simon Cowell yelling at her right now.
Adam Lasher, whose audition I do not remember, looks like maybe he needs a shower. He's definitely representing the rock contingent this year, or he's trying. Harry thinks he's a superstar.
Garrett Miles, the blind contestant from the Nashville auditions, takes the stage next to sing "To Make You Feel My Love." He has a perfect old country voice. Perfect. He gets a standing ovation from the contestants.
Half the people who showed up with guitars have no idea how to tune or play them.
Trevor Douglas, aspiring Bill Nye, cracks a joke about everyone else's out of tune guitars when he takes the stage. Ten points to Gryffindor! This kid's awesome. I hope he goes far.
Joey Cook will definitely make it to the Top 24, even without her accordion. She still has a ukelele and an amazing voice and presence.
The panic attacks have already begun for those who have been called to sing again. Or maybe not to sing again. Who really knows? Amber Kalechi is already cracking under the pressure. She starts her audition, "Radioactive," with a little step routine before taking the mic out of the stand and using the stage.
Jennifer thinks she has talent but Harry didn't think she sounded that great.
Finally, everyone who sang on Day One is called to the stage to learn their fate. It looks like half the contestants there sang again, but maybe it's only, like, a third. Or a quarter. Whatever.
Keith tells them they were asked to sing again because theirs were among the most memorable from the auditions. Jennifer tells them they're all safe. Harry tells those who didn't sing that they, too, will be sticking around for another day.
That was pretty lame.
On Day Two, the remaining 175 contestants will take the stage in groups of 10. They'll each get an opportunity to sing and they'll be eliminated or advanced on the spot. Before any of the groups can take the stage, Jennifer tells them not to let their nerves get to them. Harry follows that up with "oh yeah, and half of y'all are going home."
Reno Anoa'i is the first of his group and the first of the day to sing, but first he has to make his mama cry. Priscilla Barker, Jewel-esque singer, is also in this group. She has a really interesting voice.
Jaq Mackenzie, who looks like she stepped out of the pages of a 90s Delia*s catalog, is also in this group, and she has history with the Orpheum. Her grandmother and great aunt performed there in Vaudeville. Her rendition of "Cool Kids" is pretty fantastic.
Jaq and Reno make it. Priscilla's going home.
About a zillion other people get sent home, but the saddest one of all is the girl who, while crying, calls out "Mama..." and then, while continuing to sob on her mother's shoulder says, "What a terrible birthday present."
Erica Washington is there to bring it and she channels her inner Alicia Keys to get there. Michael Simeon, who danced with Jennifer after getting a Golden Ticket, plays keyboard for his audition. He's followed by Ron "Big Sexy" Wilson, who also plays the keys, and hopes to leave the competition with JLo's digits.
Both Michael and Big Sexy will live to ask JLo out on another date. They'll probably never get a yes for that, though.
Gabby Z, a 16 year old with a stage mom, hopes "Bottom Of the River" will be enough to keep her in the competition. But she forgets the lyrics about three bars in and bursts into tears, drops her guitar pick, and basically falls to pieces from the nerves.
Annnnnd that's where we're stopping for the night. We'll learn Gabby's results tomorrow night when Hollywood Week continues.