Because so many were put through from the city auditions, Hollywood week continues.
We begin this show where we left the last show with 61 jubilant contestants screaming and jumping up and down in a hotel hallway. Screeching halt…Randy, JLo and Steven have an announcement to make…there will be no rest for the exhausted as they are all boarding buses for Las Vegas and, within 24 hours, must have a Beatles song ready for the stage. They are to create groups of two or three and pick a song out of a box.
Early the next morning they are on their way and arrive (probably early afternoon) at The Mirage Hotel and Casino where Cirque du Soleil performs The Beatles Love. Each duo or trio is assigned a vocal coach and they get right to work.
Unfortunately for Thia Megia and Melinda Ademi they rehearse with the ‘vocal coach from hell’ Peggy Blu. Peggy uses screaming, yelling and bleeped words to try to bring out perfection in this duo. Does it work?
In another room, Lauren Alaina, Denise Jackson and Scotty McCreery struggle to find harmony, and that leads to the introduction of mentor, Jimmy Iovine (who has worked with John Lennon) and his band of music producers. They hold a workshop to review and give notes on each of the performances. When the trio stands before the panel, they are told to find a song other than the soft ballad they had chosen, and it is back to the drawing board.
The panel is tough with some; telling one group that they sound like wedding singers or karaoke and that is not what they are looking for.
After a rough day the contestants attend a performance of The Beatles Love…all except one. Quirky, impulsive Ashley Sullivan, with camera guy in tow, sneaks out to marry her boyfriend, David Suraiva. The bride wears white pleather top, black slacks with a garter on top and a short net veil; the groom comes as he is. She is so excited to get married in the same chapel where Britney Spears tied the knot that she tells her guy that she doesn’t care if he gets cold feet, he’s going through with it or she’ll kill him in his sleep – my Precious. Big Dave, the camera guy, performs witness duty and sheds a tear once the vows and kiss crown this Idol in Vegas wedding. She leaves her groom at the chapel door and rushes back to the Mirage to perform. (Disclosure – I combined two nights here as performances were held on two days.)
The contestants will use The Beatles Love performance stage along with the props while Steven, JLo and Randy set up shop in front at their judging table. Critiques only will be given as the cut from 61 to 40 will be made at the completion of all of the performances.
Steven: This is freakin’ me out because Beatles land is where I live.
First to perform are James Durbin and Stefan Langone. They sing the upbeat, “Get Back” with James ending on his high screech. Steven calls it unreal and doesn’t think he has heard two high voices together before. James – you went up into squeal land. Both Randy and JLo like the performance.
Pia Toscano from the New Jersey audition and Karen Rodgriquez from a myspace audition knew each other in high school and perform a duet to “Can’t Buy Me Love”. JLo thinks they get it as professionals. Steven thinks they jumped the fence and ran off into the field. Randy tells them, “Very nice.”
Jacob Lusk (of the gospel over sing Round 3) Naima Adedapo and Haley Reinhart stand in front of the workshop panel where Jimmy tells Jacob to tone it down or he would be working in a coffee shop. Jacob does pull back as they perform, “The Long and Winding Road.”
JLo: Very, very nice – I love that!
Steven: Wow that was stupendous, really, really good.
Randy: Don’t hold back, Jacob, ever. You’ve got the gas in the car; put the pedal down.
A montage of the good follows with Rachel Zevita leading her trio as they sing, “Eleanor Rigby”; and Lauren Turner with Jovanny Barretto singing, “Let It Be”.
Tim Halprin and Julie Zorrilla, each playing keyboards, trade off lead and then harmonize to “Something”. JLo mutters, “I love him.”
Jerome Bell, Lakeisha Lewis and Tatynisha Wilson receive mixed reviews when they belt out “I Saw Her Standing There.” JLo and Randy are not even impressed with the shaking hair “Wooo”, but Steven thinks they nailed it.
Paul McDonald and Kendra Chantelle softly sing, “Blackbird”, accompanied by guitar. When Paul takes the lead, Steven whispers to JLo that he loves his vocals and JLo shows him the goose bumps on her arm. Randy likes that they made a good choice with the harmonies because it showed the uniqueness in each; job well done.
A montage of the un-named is shown getting their Beatle on (with a little help from their friends) and Steven gives the last group, which includes John Wayne Schulz in his black cowboy hat, a one hand clap.
Will the ‘vocal coach from hell’ be forced to eat crow or will Thia Megia and Melinda Ademi tank on “Here Come the Sun”? The judges think it is just all right while Ms. Blu cringes in the audience. No crow entrée this evening.
Ashley Suraiva (nee Sullivan) and duet partner, Sophia Shorai, chat with Ryan in the Coke Red Room while waiting for the stage to be re-set for their performance. Once on stage, they sing, “We Can Work It Out” which Steven says wasn’t a best performance for either; Randy says it wasn’t hot; and JLo says she is sorry.
The unlucky song choosing trio found one they could work with and Lauren Alaina, Denise Jackson and Scotty McCreery find the fun in “Hello, Goodbye”. They use a red phone box prop and jump out from inside it to start this new song. They then use the phone box as though they were keystone cops chasing each other around it. The judges agree that the new song doesn’t fit them and Steven tells them that their performance was like a Marx Brothers ‘put out fire’ thing. However, they will take into consideration that this wasn’t a singers’ song.
Carson Higgins and Caleb Hawley arrange their song, “Please Please Me” too far out of the Beatle zone; and Chris Medina and Casey Abrams jump up and down on a bed while singing, “Hard Days Night”, which brings Steven to comment, “Casey, Chris – you freaks!”
A carry-over group from Round 2, Aaron Sanders, Robbie Rosen and Jordan Dorsey sing “Got To Get You Into My Life” in tight harmony and Randy is impressed. JLo tells Jordan that they have high expectations for him. Steven tells Robbie that he nailed it again; and to the trio – good job all of you.
And now the end is near (sorry, Frank) as all 61 contestants gather onstage to face the judges. Called to stand in the front are Thia, Scotty, Jordan, Ashthon, Robbie and Lauren Alaina. The six will continue their journey with American Idol. (Are these six those who are flying highest with the judges?)
With “Hey Jude” playing in the background, the cuts are made. Among those going home are Carson Higgins, Caleb Hawley, Molly DeWolf (the White House intern) Denise Jackson, Melinda Ademi and Ashley Suraiva (nee Sullivan).
The remaining 34 are put through as a group and the top 40 will get a short rest before the next and final round of the audition phase.
After the break the Idol crew is back in LA, and has taken over an aircraft hanger for one more contestant solo performance as well as the judges’ cuts to the final 24.
A lighted runway with circles down the center runs from the front to the back of the large hanger. Contestants walk this long mile on adrenalin and nerves to a platform with four chairs; one for each of the judges and one for the aspirant. We aren’t witness to the performances, but they are used here and there as part of the contestant story.
YES. Naima Adedapo is the first to make the trek to the platform. Always thinking of her children, she hopes to leave the clean-up crew at the stadium in Milwaukee and find her voice. The judges agree that she deserves a shot saying it is now up to America.
NO. Sweet 17 year old Hollie Cavenaugh leaves on a split vote with JLo voting yes. She needs to grow a bit. Lakeshia Lewis and Alex Ryan also leave, though with full votes.
YES. Clint Jun Gamboa is questioned once again about his team play attitude in the dismissal of Jacee from his group, and once again he tells them it wasn’t Jacee it was the sound they wanted. He is the first guy put through and Ryan teases his excitement with a down-low, “You didn’t make it?”
YES. Holly Reinhart, on her second attempt to make the live show, is also excited.
NO. Deandre Brackensick, 16, one of the stage mother kids from group night is told he came close, but wasn’t consistent enough. A clip is shown of his final performance where he plays an electric Ukulele. (Of course our clever editors couldn’t leave this reference alone and follow Deandre back down the flight path with the Ukulele rendition of “Over The Rainbow” playing him out.)
YES. Paul McDonald with the different voice (sort of on the softer folk side) finds encouraging words from the judges who think he is special. The clip of his last performance shows him singing an original song with guitar. (It had a harder sound than what has been heard from him to this point.)
YES. Ashthon Jones has been one of the most consistent singers, but will she be able to stand the pressure? The judges think she has the whole song, dance and presence package.
NO. Chris Medina with the heartrending back story of a stricken fiancée is upbeat as he faces the judges and gracious when he leaves them. It falls to JLo to deliver the bad news, and once he has thanked and hugged them all, she breaks down. Steven and Randy try to console her by telling her that she used the right words, but she has a hard time finding the emotional strength to face the remaining thirty to be judged….
TO BE CONTINUED…will she or won’t she be sitting in her chair on Thursday?
MsFroggy will have that answer and the remainder of the Final 24 to finish out the audition process.