American Idol: “Hollywood Round, Part 3”
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American Idol: “Hollywood Round, Part 3”

In an unusual turn of events, the second hour of Idol tonight sped by more quickly than the first. For me, it was a combination of the fatigue from Hollywood Week blue balls, the irritation that comes from people I don’t like getting sent through despite a lackluster group performance (like Richie Law), and the strange realization that I was bored of seeing people pass out and fall on their faces.

As an aside, it’s funny how falling down is such a dramatic event in reality television (see: Idol, SYTYCD, ANTM, and probably many others), yet in real life you either never hear about it, or faller-downers are simply embarrassed, and not attended to in a dramatic fashion. I imagine it must be because anything more serious than a fall-down probably wouldn’t be shown on television, but it’s funny that when it comes to these shows, that’s like the worst thing that could ever happen to someone.

Anyway, as usual, it was a mix of good and bad for Group Night. The Betties (the group that had the girl who barfed in the bag last week) sounded sad in their performance of “Hit ‘Em Up Style,” their backup singing resembling that of lonely ghosts. In contrast, Groove Sauce, which had Creighton Fraker and Reed Grimm in its ranks, featured strong backup harmonies, good solos and a relaxed rapport that had the judges standing up after their rendition of “Hold On, I’m Coming.”

I didn’t want 6, 7, 9 to do well, since Brielle Von Hugel seemed bratty and eye-rolly, not to mention bossy (as did her mother), but most of the group got through, aside from Kyle Crews, whom Mrs. Von Hugel had been talking shit about the whole time. “He’s got a good voice,” Mrs. Von Hugel said after the performance, so now I don’t like Brielle since her mom is a phony.

Other Idol auditioners you could say goodbye to at this point besides Crews included Amy Brumfield (tent) and Alisha Bernhardt (cop), Reis Kloeckener (bullied) and Symone Black (stage-faller.)

The drama of the night though belonged to two groups: Area 451 included Johnny Keyser as a member, but the real story was Imani Handy, yet another sick girl who passed out several times before the performance and managed to make it, glassy-eyed, through most of her performance until she fell, once again, while singing “Broken Strings” (they should have done “Hold On”). So this was the dramatic moment of Ryan Seacrest breaking character, cursing and running out onstage, which would have been exciting had we not seen teasers for it 50 times already. Johnny Keyser made it through to the next round (probably since he continued singing after Imani fell down), but Imani didn’t, even after she begged the judges. I’m strangely happy when the judges don’t succumb to begging.

Then there was MIT, led by Satan himself, Richie Law. Richie didn’t even bother me that much last week, but I hated how tonight he insincerely clapped his teammates on the shoulders, especially after thanking Heejun for throwing the word “international” into their team name. This year, the producers had the groups do confessionals, but Law stayed behind to talk alone about how much better he was than his group. He came off like a sociopath. Despite a pretty weak performance of “Broken Strings,” all the guys made it through. The highlight of the first hour, hands down, was Heejun apologizing to Richie for talking all that shit about him on-tape earlier, then somehow not-seeing Richie’s extended hand and finally grinning wickedly at the camera.

For the second hour of the show, the remaining 98 contestants each got one final audition. I didn’t expect much from this segment, but was pleasantly surprised by several outstanding performances. Even though the young kids who sang with the group Hollywood 5 at Group Night all seemed polished and in-tune, I think Idol is definitely shying away from promoting the super-young singers as it did last year, so we saw a lot of mature-seeming performers tonight, with many who were (gasp) in their late twenties, and I’m fine with that.

I especially enjoyed Joshua Ledet, who almost didn’t come to Hollywood due to his fear of flying, who turned out a very deliberate, slow-growing rendition of “Jar of Hearts.” And I got goosebumps from Jen Hirsh’s “Georgia on My Mind,” which earned a standing ovation from the judges. I was ready to see Reed Grimm fall apart after several last-minute changes to his performance (I loved how the vocal coach kept cutting him off when he would babble) but his version of “Georgia,” accompanied by himself on drums, went over well. I wondered whether the other contestants paid attention to which singers got the best reactions from the judges and hence would know it’d be a good sign if they were later put in the same room together.

Finally, the contestants were organized into their various rooms, some of which were obvious winners (like the one containing Phil Phillips, Shannon Magrane and Reed Grimm) and others probably-nots (like the room containing Rachelle Lamb, who argued with another girl who took offense at Rachelle’s “disrespectful” burping while waiting for their results.) Cue the sad version of “Mad World.” More surprisingly, the room containing Angie Zeiderman and Richie Law made it through, so maybe Richie is really a good singer beneath the cowboy hat and awful personality. I was proud of the judges on going light with the emotional torture this time. There was only one, really, from Randy: “Let’s just put you out of your misery now...you got through.”

Remember how after this point we used to learn who made it through to the Top 20? Well, we don’t do that anymore. Now we have that other Hollywood, only this time it’s a fake Hollywood, known as Vegas. See you there.

Stray observations:

  • I’m really proud of Randy for making it to varsity this year
  • Do we know what happened to Colton Dixon’s sister?
  • I think Shannon Magrane is okay but a little boring. But without her, we’d really “strike out” when it came to baseball puns!

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