American Idol knows what to do with good singers, crowning champions and giving them record deals. And it knows what to do with bad singers, putting them on TV for weeks and weeks at the start of every season to give America a laugh. But it really doesn't know what to do with mediocrity, and that's what makes the Hollywood Week portion of the season so annoying. With the top talent from around the country in the room, waiting to be narrowed down to 24, you think AI would spend more than just one day showing us how the singers do. I don't even have a sense of how many times each singer had to go before the judges, but it sure seemed like a lot, and it would have been good to really see what they go through.
One of the much-hyped changes about this year's Idol was that the contestants would get to play instruments as well as sing during Hollywood Week. I'm not so sure that one will be back. When I talked to him a while back, Simon Cowell said that development was "not a particularly good thing or a bad thing," but I'm not sure I would have guessed that from his attitude last night, where he tended to say the instruments were distracting at best. The first contestant we saw, Brooke White, got praise for playing the keyboard and doing a "Carly Simon/Carole King thing," but after that, it was all down hill.
While I was a little bummed at not seeing some of my favorite contestants from the auditions — where was that shy little Samantha Sidley, who got a surprising amount of Internet buzz after her audition? Where was that brother and sister team? What about that girl whose sister was in love with Simon? Still, some of the most memorable contestants did make an appearance, and I think I have some guesses about the top 24, so to read more of my thoughts on Hollywood Week, just
- At this point, I'd say Brooke White, Carly Smithson, and Kristy Lee Cook all seem like locks on the girls' side. Carly, especially, got quite a bit of screen time last night.
- Also, if Syesha sounded that good hoarse, I'd guess she's sticking around — and probably for awhile.
- The guys' side was harder. The producers obviously love Josiah and his story, and he's been fun off and on, but that last performance was dreadful — and probably a sign that he can't hold up to Idol's rehearsal schedule. Judging from screen time, Michael Johns seems like he's sticking around, plus David, the really young-looking teenager.
- The producers seem to have avoided the year's most obvious Alaina Alexander/Haley Scarnato situation by bumping Amy Flynn. She would have been insufferable by the second week.
- Now let's hope they avoid a Sanjaya situation by bumping Kyle.
- In one of the rounds, are the contestants given a particular short list of songs to sing? I can't imagine that many people singing "Everything I Do" or "Light My Fire" on their own.
- Something pretty shocking: Paula was actually the deciding vote to kick someone off once Simon had said yes and Randy had said no. I'd just said earlier in the night that I didn't think that had ever happened.
- Also, what's with Simon's tantrum? All the buzz earlier in the season was that he was too nice, so maybe someone told him to have a rude freakout to make up for it.
- At one point, were all the contestants eating grape popsicles? There were an awful lot of blue tongues.
- I'm going to go out on a limb and call out my favorite: Amanda, the rock 'n' roll nurse. That probably dooms her to be out before the top 12, but hey, America put Gina Glocksen through.
- Best Seacrest line of the night: "The real torture will come later, as this two-hour American Idol continues."
Your thoughts? Early favorites? Early annoyances? Ready for tonight? I'm psyched to make my irrational predictions for the Top 12 after tonight's show, so stay tuned!