Welcome back, American Idol fans! We've made it through the long and grueling audition rounds — though shorter and less grueling than in years past — and on Tuesday night, this year's crop of Idol hopefuls finally stepped onto the Kodak Theatre stage. Apparently, just 147 people from the thousands who auditioned nationwide got golden tickets, and in Tuesday's episode, they had one more chance to sing in front of the judges or get sent home — "the most important day of your life," as Simon told them. Nope, no pressure.
I really, unabashedly love Hollywood Week — it's some of my favorite Idol all season — but Tuesday's episode passed in a blur. So many vaguely familiar faces, so little time! A lot of thoughts like "Hey, there's that cutie from Puerto Rico . . . and she's crying, so that's not good" and "Wait, did we meet that guy? They seem to think we met that guy." It's hard enough to get a handle on a few dozen contestants for the semifinals, much less twelve dozen. Still, there were some standout performances (both good and bad) and a few baffling mistakes, so to chat about it, just read more.
- From watching the audition episodes, I felt fairly certain that this year's crop of contestants was weighted toward the girls, but on Tuesday, the guys really started to make their move. The downside is that a lot of them seem to sound the same; at least the girls have a little more variation in their styles than what I'm used to. But people like Von and Jorge could be around for a while.
- Have the people who audition for this show ever watched it? Song choice is everything, or at least 75 percent of everything; beyond a certain point, everyone can sing, so it's about making yourself distinctive. Which is why you don't change your song at the last second on stage in front of the judges, Emily Wynne-Hughes.
- I like Danny. I like his style. But I did not like his "Kiss from a Rose." Glad he's through, but not sure he deserved all the praise. Lil Rounds falls in the same category for me; I can tell she's good, but that particular performance wasn't.
- Is Jackie this year's Amanda Overmyer? Her faux Janis Joplin is driving me nuts . . . but I did get a kick out of the "Girl, you crazy!" look she got backstage from her "best friend" Deanna.
- Do either Bikini Girl or "Nick/Norman/Nolan" deserve to still be in the competition at this point? Nick/Nolan actually can sing, but he needs to go do it in a Rocky Horror revival. Meanwhile, Katrina is less appealing fully clothed, even if I do like the way she makes Kara's claws come out.
- There's one poor guy who's only showing up in my notes at this point as "the one who looks like Spencer Pratt." Anyway, Spencer Two made it through.
- I loved Randy Jackson whipping out the Mia Michaels-coined term "banoodles"!
- Best insult to Simon of the season so far: "For somebody so rich, your pants are very, very cheap."
- I actually wish we could have seen a little more of Idol Boot Camp. That seemed like a really smart idea — and a way to make sure contestants aren't just thrown to the wolves with no guidance.
In the end, a whopping 104 contestants are still around, which surprises me only because the judges seemed to be ditching an awful lot of people. But hey, that's just more fun for tonight: the infamous group night!