How to Survive ‘American Idol’ Hollywood Week

Tonight I got my first exposure to American Idol’s Hollywood Week, or as Ryan Seacrest called it – Hell Week.  And I quickly learned which things will knock you out of the running for the Top 24.

Here is the Top 5 Things Not to Do During Hollywood Week if you hope to advance.

American Idol Hollywood1.  Forgetting the Lyrics

This item is a no brainer, but that didn’t stop several contestants from forgetting the words.  Sure we’ve all had brain freeze moments, but at some point these contestants need to get past that point if they are going to be stars.

I’m not saying that even famous singers don’t occasionally flub a word now and then, but you have to be able to recover.  And Buck Smith, Cardin McKinney and Natashia Blach didn’t have the staying power to recoup their mistake.

2.  Playing an Instrument

This year is the first that Idol has let contenders audition playing an instrument.  I wouldn’t call the rule change successful.

In all the contestants we saw perform in Hollywood tonight with instruments, we only saw three of them advance – Brooke White, Josiah Leming and David Cook.

Unfortunately, I think the judges thought the instruments were at best crutches for an already weak performance.  Or in the case of Jake Mellema, the drums were just a distraction.

Simon went as far as calling Alisha Dixon’s performance an “angry girl in a bedroom screaming with a guitar.”

If you are going to audition with an instrument, your vocal and instrument skills had better be top notch.

3.  Bringing Your Own Vocal Coach

Dance captain Amy Flynn, 17, brought her own vocal coach to help her in Hollywood.  Anyone else feel like we are at a beauty pageant?

Unfortunately, the coach Angel Higgs, a Season 4 Idol hopeful, wasn’t able to help Flynn find success in either the first or second round in Hollywood.

Maybe the lesson isn’t not to have a vocal coach, but to get one that made it past the Hollywood round.

4.  Having a Hard Luck Story

Hard luck stories might have bought a few contestants tickets to Hollywood during the audition phase, but tonight the judges were a little short on sympathy.

Single mom Angela Martin’s father was killed sometime between her audition and Hollywood week.  But the tragedy did not bear any weight on the judges’ decision to send her home.

And Syesha Mercado was suffering with some sickness that was putting a strain on her vocals and caused the judges to pass on her the first round.  She barely scraped by in the second round However, a little rest, a lot of guts and a bit of Aretha Franklin helped Syesha sing her way to firm footing in the third round.

5.  Begging

While a little begging might have swayed the judges on the fence in the audition round, it wasn’t working tonight as Brooke Helvie found out.

When the beauty queen blew her performance of “Unchained Melody” she insisted on repeating the performance even after Simon told her no.  With a yes from Randy and a no from Simon, the decision on her fate fell to Paula who truly seemed on the fence – that is until Brooke started begging, literary.

What Works

And the one thing that will apparently redeem you from elimination in the third round is to act like an arrogant idiot by dismissing the band, ignoring the offer of help from a vocal coach and attempt an a cappella performance.

That’s exactly what 19-year-old Josiah Leming did when he performed a horrendous rendition of “Stand By Me.”  Yet all three judges passed him through for consideration in the Top 24.

Throughout the two-hour show we saw a variety of contestants during various rounds.  At the end of the night, the judges reduced the 164 hopefuls to about 50.  Wednesday, the judges will narrow the field to 24 – 12 men and 12 women.

Since we didn’t get to see all 50 being considered for the Top 24, I’ll just list my top picks.

For the Men:

Michael Johns – The Australian performed the Doors “Light My Fire” in Round 1, but his rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Round 3 is what won me over and apparently Simon too.  He called it the “best audition of the day.”

David Hernandez – We only saw this 24-year-old in the first round where he sang “Love the One Your With.”  But I have to agree with Simon when he told David that he looked very, very comfortable on that stage.

David Archuleta – This 16-year-old gave a stunning performance of Bryan Adam’s “Heaven” in the third round to win over all three judges.  I bet this guy is a hit with teenage girls.

For the Women:

Amanda Overmyer – I’m a rocker at heart so it’s no surprise that I loved her version of “Light My Fire” by the Doors.  Simon might be right when he said that he her sound is predictable, but I for one am eating up her “throwback” sound.

Syesha Mercado – Despite a bout of laryngitis, she performed a great version of “Chain of Fools.”  That audition proved that she was willing to go the extra mile.

Kristy Lee Cook or Asia’h Epperson – I liked both these ladies during their audition, but didn’t see enough of them tonight to choose between the two.  It looks like both are at least still in the running.

Who were your top picks for the night?

Here’s a recap of the auditions:

20 from Atlanta

17 from Miami

19 from Omaha

23 from Charleston

31 from San Diego

24 from Dallas

29 from Philadelphia

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4 Responses to How to Survive ‘American Idol’ Hollywood Week

  1. AI fan says:

    I thought Asia’H Epperson was actually pretty good this time round compared to her earlier audition where she could not sing properly due to an emotional time. However, that play on her personal tragedy can be a little overbearing. Kristy Lee Cook’s pretty good too but she doesn’t look too confident, but now my personal favourite’s Michael Johns – smashing voice!

    Josiah’s a little young and probably wants too much to be a singer/musician, I felt he made some bad choices and was trying too hard for the final audition. Frankly though, I thought he’s not really good enough to get through a singing competition. Maybe a band thing might be better for him.

  2. vacelts says:

    AI fan, I’m clearly not a Josiah fan. I can’t see what you and the judges see in him. I’m hoping he doesn’t make the Top 24.

    Yes, Michael Johns rocks!

  3. vacelts says:

    Here’s a closer look at the Top 12 Men. I’ll be posting the women later today.

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