American Idol: Hollywood Week Begins for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Hollywood Week – Guys Only


“It’s like The Hunger Games out here”.  (Keith Urban). 

“Stop! Stop! Stop! Hang up the damn phone,” Randy Jackson, after hearing a jarring, discordant version of “Payphone”.


Getting through Hollywood’s group round is really a matter of luck, . . . the performance of your fellow group members and the whims of the judges – which were exceptionally whimsical in certain instances. MSN Entertainment Recaps – by Ken Barnes.

(But the best quote by far, speaking of Nicki Minaj’s faux-British accent and other irritating foibles — like bulldozing odd people through who can’t sing): Why, oh why, can’t the producers use their powers for good rather than evil and zap Nicki with a cattle prod every time she goes all Madonna on us? Jodi Bradbury, from the Christian Science Monitor


The all-male contestants (with one or two abstaining), who actually watched American Idol through the years, were already forming groups after they learned they were going on. But then Nigel Lythgoe came in and announced they’d changed the game plan – a “twist”, he called it. The producers would decide who made up what groups. And said groups had to choose a song from a list of twenty that the members could agree on. Then they had to choreograph a routine and learn the lyrics all in one night. Such is the torture of sleep deprivation during Hollywood Hell Week.

There has already been some controversy over this new game plan, with some claiming it put more pressure on the contestants. Some even said having an all-male group caused more pressure. As for me, I liked this procedure better. I hated seeing kids frantically running about like frightened chickens looking for a roost. As for all-male, all-female, or co-ed, the only possible difference might be opposites trying to attract and maybe singing better.

Evening Travesties, Uncalled for Cruelties, and Just Plain Stupidities:

In the Sudden Death round, Cortez Shaw “died” rather spectacularly while singing “I Will Always Love You”. By choosing raucous volume over sweet control, he should have been sent packing immediately. It makes me gag to say this, but Nicki was right about this one when she said he was terrible, but in spite of which he was sent on through.

Speaking of the Devil, Nicki Minaj would have made Guantanamo Bay proud with her unique torture tactic. When Bryant Tadeo had the audacity to look the way he felt – tired and worn down after a helluvanight — she snared him like a hypnotic snake by getting him to admit it out loud. “It’s good that you’re tired,” she intoned before striking, “because we’re sending you home and you’re going to get a lot of time to sleep”. The look on his face just as the fangs struck home was so hard to watch I felt the blow myself. But she seemed to think she redeemed herself by telling him he was going through. I can’t stand her on this show, but feel like the more we talk about her the more the producers gloat. The Hunger Games, indeed.

B Side – Nicki saved this whole group, who sounded like my neighbor’s dogs when a train goes by. The singing of “Payphone” was so bad that Randy waved his hands and yelled for them to “hang up the damn phone.” Whether she’s done a favor for Gurpreet Singh Sarin, Mark LaDuke, Chris Watson, and Peter Garrett, is yet to be seen. She certainly didn’t favor more deserving contestants who went home.

The Taylors – Paul Jolley, Will White, Clint Belew, Steven Curd, had a lot of misplaced confidence, but got on stage and didn’t know the words. Their forgotten rendition of “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” was such a mess, someone called it a “train wreck”. But in spite of that, Paul Jolley and Will White were saved. If it was such a train wreck, . . . why do they “wanna” them to stay?

Normal Hills – If this group ever gets together again to sing “I’ll Be There”, I won’t be. Johnny Keyser and his group tried to sing “I’ll Be There”, but they were nowhere near wherever “there” was. Over-confident at the outset, Keyser then vacillated, hemmed and hawed and made excuse after lame excuse, which Keith Urban called him on. After going before the camera and saying he wasn’t comfortable with the song and didn’t even know the lyrics to it, Keyser then goes before the judges and says he’s never heard the song before. Call Keith Urban a Doubting Thomas, but he jumped right on that. “What planet are you from? I’m from Australia and I know that song.” But leave it to Nicki to say that, of course, she could understand it. After all, she still wants to know if Keyser has a girlfriend. Nice to know talent will out. So Kareem Clark gets the boot, even though Keith Urban said all four had great voices, and Keyser, Kevin Harris, and a guy named Kenny, get the break.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Micah Johnson gets a Standing O in the Sudden Death round with his rendition of “Bennie and the Jets”, and was sent through with a resounding and well-deserved yes.

The Four Tones – Micah Johnson’s group, with Vincent Powell, Marvin Calderon, and David Willis, sang a rousing and energetic “Hold On, I’m Coming”. They all were put through with no hesitation.

The Mat Heads – Nick Boddington, Mathenee Treco, Matheus Fernandes, and Gabe Brown, were great singing “Somebody to Love”. All four went through to the next round. Gabe Brown carried the diminutive Matheus on his shoulders as they celebrated their move on up.

Super 55 – There was a communication problem for Cuban born Lazaro Asos who had never heard of, much less knew, a lot of the songs. The group sang the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. Lazaro made it through, as did Christian Lopez. Josh Stephenson did not, and proved himself a real jerk who said Lazaro “took his spot”, like “you owe all this to me”, while his teammate Scott Fleenor took his rejection like a man. This was the first time I’ve seen Ryan Seacrest look and sound angry with a contestant, although he kept it very subdued.

Country Queen – was the best group title of the night. Singing “More Than Words”, Army Sgt. Trevor Blakney, Lee Prichard, JDA, and Joel Wayman were a match made in hell. After a long night of clashing personalities, Blakney was losing it both off and on stage. Maybe if he’d had a small spirit of cooperation and kept his mouth shut like Lee Prichard, they might have at least made a good showing. Judges warned these contestants that in the music industry there would be a lifelong pressure of personalities, and that making it in that industry takes more than just talent. Only two of the group, JDA and Joel Wayman, made it through.

DKSK – was the very young group, singing “For The Longest Time” and included David Leathers Jr from last season. He and Sanni M’mairura made it through, but Kevin Quinn and Kayden Stephenson were cut. Kayden knew he’d messed up, but overcame his obvious disappointment by leaving with the promise, “I’ll be back”. On my phone chat with sister Katie, she said, “He took it better than a lot of the so-called men.” Amen to that, sister. That he did. You go, Kayden!!! 

Last Minute – singing “Beautiful” –  were Jason Jones/Jesse Lawrence/Dan Wood, and an anonymous fourth member never named on stage. Keith Urban called it the “wrongest song”, and someone said that this song by One Direction went in four directions. Then they all scattered in four directions because they were all sent home.

Heart Beat – with Ryan Connor Smith, Devon Jones, Devin Velez, and Adrien Madison, took a risk that didn’t pay off for one of the group. Three went through, but Ryan, who suggested the ill-received and ill-conceived acapella rendition, went home. When Ryan sought the advice of their vocal coach, she said yes, it was different, but also a risk. Keith Urban said he was not impressed, and thought the guys could have done great with the band.

The Dudes – Nate Tao – Cortez Shaw – Zach Birnbaum,– Elijah Liusinging “Some Kind of Wonderful”, actually wasn’t. Wonderful, that is. It was “some kind of all right”. But I love Nate Tao.

Mo’Flo – Bernell Taylor’s group also sang “Some Kind of Wonderful”. Bernell was so sleepy the vocal coach told him to go somewhere and learn on his own. I loved the group, loved the song, but I thought Bernell was the weakest of the four, as did Keith Urban who said that Burnell sang a little behind the others because he was “off-mike” and his “pitch was a little shaky”. However, in a fit of inconsistency, the judges put Burnell through, along with Tony Foster Jr., and Mario Jose and Darien Moses went home. And they were better than Burnell. Go figure. I can’t.

OZ – singing “American Boy” – Frankie Ford, who liked to sing on the subway (though I would have liked to tune him out from the beginning) – blabbed and blubbered incessantly to the detriment of the whole group. Then to add insult to injury, he unforgivably shoved the big guy away when he tried to comfort him. No one I know likes Papa Peachez singing at all, but Nicki seems to always get her way when she starts her whining. And who wouldn’t give in when that starts. It has to be absolute torture for the other judges. Adam Sanders was put through, and so was Charles Allen, who shone in that group like a new galaxy. Like . . . he just wasn’t in Kansas, anymore.

The Lazy Song – the group with socially inept Charlie Askew, Curtis Finch, Jr. , and Charles Mathis, struggled to get it together throughout the night. But somehow, when it really counted, they turned out a performance so awesome they got a standing ovation from all the judges. Charles Mathis kindly supported his little teammate Charlie in what he called a “spirit of sportsmanship”. Curtis Finch Jr., unfortunately, pointedly ignored Charlie, who was ill at some point. Finch excused this by saying “I’m here for myself”. Also unfortunately, Curtis Finch Jr claims to be a church choir director. But, you know what? I don’t think Finch and Jesus ever met, so I guess the songs of praise he sings are to himself.

Gone: Carl Skinner – Dustin Watts, Baton Rouge firefighter – Dr. Calvin Peters. Gone also is the big guy, Brian Rittenberry whose wife had cancer. But he left with a good attitude. He was disappointed, but said his wife was healthy and he was blessed.


5 thoughts on “American Idol: Hollywood Week Begins for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  1. You’ve said it all and I really have little to add. I love your comments about Nicki. I wonder if writing to the Fox network executives would help to get rid of her. Probably not because, as you said, as long as viewers are talking about her — either good or bad — the network will be happy. Bad press is better than NO press.

    That fellow Charlie Something, shown at the end of the show walking away and sobbing, really fell apart as badly as any contestant I’ve ever seen. He said he’d be back, I hope he doesn’t come back next season. I don’t think he can handle the pressure.

    “No one I know likes Papa Peachez singing at all, but Nicki seems to always get her way when she starts her whining. And who wouldn’t give in when that starts.”

    I think sometimes the other judges give in just to shut Nicki up. I think she has the hots for the no-talent Papa Peachez. They should run away together and spare the rest of us anymore exposure to either of them.

    “Lazaro made it through, as did Christian Lopez. Josh Stephenson did not, and proved himself a real jerk who said Lazaro “took his spot”, like “you owe all this to me”, while his teammate Scott Fleenor took his rejection like a man.”

    Wow! Talk about poor sportsmanship! This is it. And Lazaro going through was a gift…a we-feel-sorry-for-you gift because he’d never heard of any of the songs on the list. ANY Beach Boys song is a challenge with all the close harmony.

    In retrospect, I think quite a few contestants got the symphathy vote and some good ones got away. Tonight’s solo performances will hopefully get better judging. Maybe if we’re lucky, Nicki will be out sick.

    • Mike says no bug would have anything to do with Nicki. We got a charge out of your comments. And so true. The Charlie guy was the “subway singer” if I’m not mistaken and he put his teammates in a very bad spot. I hope he doesn’t come back next year, either.


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