RECAP: American Idol’s Hollywood Week Solo Round

AMERICAN IDOL: Contestants in the “Hollywood Round #2” episode of AMERICAN IDOL airing Thursday, Jan. 28 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2016 FOX Broadcasting Co. Cr: Michael Becker / FOX.

Despite my sarcasm and pessimism towards Amereican Idol, I really do love this show. For it’s predictability, for the talent and lack therefore; it’s entertaining. So with all the being said, I’m (trying to be) hopeful for the season.

For the final round of Hollywood Week, all contestants have to perform alone in front of the judges, with absolutely no feedback to follow. After everyone has their turn, people will be split into three groups. The judges will then announce which of those groups stays, and which will have to say goodbye.

Beginning the day is Stephany Negrete, who has nobody in the audience for her due to her father having to undergo a heart procedure. She does her rendition of “Set Fire To The Rain” by Adele, and comes off pretty cliche. Her voice is nice enough, she sounded good enough, but it wasn’t anything standout. The judges say they like her to each other though, and with the amount of screen time she’s been getting, she’s probably not going anywhere.

Thomas Stringfellow performs “A Thousand Years,” and confesses to the cameras that he messed up. I agree with Keith that he did mess up, in song choice. J.Lo and Keith say they like him though.

Up next is Avalon Young with Ariana Grande’s “One Last Time”. Her tone is sweet and smooth (don’t worry, I wouldn’t know what that sounds like either but ah well), but her performance is DULL. I’m starting a drinking game: every time she does a forward hand press, take a drink.

Olivia Rox takes a risk by singing an original song. Although the song (and therefor her vocal) isn’t showcased much, it ends with the lyric, “I’m crazy about you.” The judges comment that for a 16 year old, her songwriting skills are decent, which you know means it was probably pretty generic.

John Wayne Schulz, your all american good looking cowboy, has lost his signature hat before performing. He goes onstage sans hat, and sings Keith Urban’s “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” He has a pleasant country voice, but like many contestants thus far, it’s not anything standout. He’s nice to listen to, but I’ll probably forget about him as soon as the next good looking guy comes on.

We then learn that the song selection process isn’t all that open. The contestants get a list of songs they can choose from, but to ensure variety, only three people can sing the same song. Since Olivia performed an original, it’s safe to say that that was an option among the list.

Tristan McIntosh realizes that she’s the fourth person to sign up for “What’s Hurt the Most.” This devastates her because this song means SO much to her. Later we learn that Malie kindly gave up singing the Rascal Flatt’s tune to allow Tristan to. With all the tears, I expected Tristan to be more connected to her performance. She does do a cool falsetto in the middle of the song which I like, but for the most part, she was just fine. She says she got REALLY emotional during her performance, which makes me question what she’ll be like on stage moving forward.

Mackenzie Bourg really shines with his original song, “Roses.” The song shows that unlike a lot of the other contestants (probably) he is actually an artist. I like this kid. He’s yet again, a white dude with a guitar, but unlike many of them, it seems as though there’s real substance in him too. Keith put it perfectly when he compares Mackenzie’s song to a “lost ed sheeran track.”

And then it’s a parade of great singers: Shelbie Z. sings “Alone,” and owns the stage, as usual. Her voice is big and strong and has elements of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. There’s no denying her talent. But we don’t need another Kelly or Carrie, what would Shelbie Z sound like? Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll find out. Her chances seem better on Idol than they were on The Voice. Kory Wheeler, another why guy with a guitar (AND BLUE EYES!), lets his raspy voice belt out “Fix You.” James Vill does a really interesting rendition of “Wicked Game.” Showing off uniqueness is what gets me at this point of the game and makes me actually want to vote, so I like James.

Sonika Vaid is another contestant that has shown no originality or variety. She sings an Arian Grande song (again) and sounds great (again) but didn’t we see that already? Mix up song choices, do something surprising, perform bigger, do ANYTHING to make yourself memorable, Sonika.
After some awkward forcing of pretend crushes between Lee Jean and Sara Sturm, Lee sings “Stitches.” He reminds me a lot of Bieber when he started, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. Sara follows with “Somewhere only we know,” and I decide that I really like her. Although she hits a rough note towards the end of the song, her raspy voice is soothing to listen to. Plus she’s cute as a button like Lee.

Jenn Blosil is officially my favorite so far. She sings “True Colors,” but is disheartened after her performance. She felt like she didn’t do the song justice. No, she wasn’t perfect, but this is what I mean about being unique. Jenn’s voice is so obviously hers, and it makes me pay attention. Plus her hair and style are rad.
Emily Brooke, who we are again reminded wasn’t ready last year when she auditioned, also takes on “What Hurts The Most.” She makes some interesting choices throughout, like adding a really raspy soulful “SOOOO close,” which leaves me hopeful that she has lots of creativity in her. OVerall her vocals were all over the place, but she’ll be fine. She’ll make it through.

Apparently Idol is a breeding ground for germs because everyone is sick. Malie has laryngitis, and struggles to get her voice out during “Stitches.” She has moments where her voice does work and she sounds lovely. Her slowed down version is well liked by the judges. Mionne Destiny, another sick contestant, goes after “Chains.” The song choice probably didn’t do much for the little voice she had left. But Jessica Cabral did manage to overcome her illness and kills her performance. There are moments of rasp, moments where she really digs deep down for a growl, and it’s all amazing.

Emotional new dad Joshua Wicker who I liked enough before, kind of blew his “A Thousand Years” performance. Harry said there was something “soulful” about him, and I agree, but not then. He let his emotions take over, too much. CJ Johnson yells at us about going our own way a la Fleetwood Mac. I, as per usual, agree with Harry and will give his performance an “average.”
Jeneve Rose Mitchell, I will never understand. She sings “Danny’s Song,” which to mean was all over the place vocally. I couldn’t even stand looking at her awkward stage presence. Harry and J.Lo disagree completely about her. I’m team J.Lo on this one; it’s time for her to go home. Dalton Rapattoni, another example of uniqueness, ends the night really cool rendition of “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” As far as performers go, he’s one of the best so far, which is probably due to the fact that he was in a semi successful band called IM5.

After deliberation from the judges, everyone is split into three rooms. Two of the rooms continue on in the competition. Some notable people: Jordan Sasser (why?), Shelbie Z, Trenton Harmon, Malie Delgado, Lee Jean, Michelle Marie (again, why?) among many others. But we do lose a room, a room which includes a lot of people whose names we never learned, Joshua Wicker and John Wayne Schulz.
This cut brought down the 75 contestants to just 51. But tonight, they will have to bring that number down to just 24.

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