American Idol Recap: Numbers Games

One of the main mysteries of Lost centered around a set of inscrutable numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42), and now American Idol has its own enigmatic digits: 327, 168, 18, 5, and 0. Indeed, try as I might, I’m having a hard time making sense of the mathematical breakdown of tonight’s episode — which followed this season’s wannabe Carrie Underwoods and Kris Allens through the first round of Hollywood Week. Let’s review:

* 327: Golden Ticket recipients that Ryan said showed up for Hollywood Week (though our genial hostbot later told us Days One and Two featured 160 and 163 singers, respectively, for a total of 323 — #MathFail)
* 168: Contestants who we were told eventually advanced to Round Two of Hollywood
* 18: Successful folks who we actually got to hear singing before they advanced to Round Two
* 5: People who we actually got to hear singing before they were cut after Round One
* 0: New singers we hadn’t gotten to hear previously in the audition rounds

Call me a cynic, but when you look at those statistics, it’s hard not to conclude that our initial Hollywood Week outing was anything more than a coronation ceremony for Nigel Lythgoe & Co.’s pre-determined favorites. Which to some degree, I understand. You want people to take the Idol “journey” with you every Wednesday and Thursday from January to May, then you’d better make sure they’re forming strong musical and/or emotional connections with at least a few members of your cast. But on the other hand, you can’t feed microwaved leftovers to 23 million viewers who’ve come to the table expecting something to feast on something fresh and unexpected. And tonight’s hour-long telecast spent an inordinate amount of time reminding us of key players’ backstories, without allowing us the occasional joy of a new discovery.

In fact, at this point, I’m starting to fret that season 10 of Idol isn’t going to be so much a reality singing competition as it will be the lightly scripted story of seven or eight hand-picked vocalists overcoming heartbreaking personal adversity, zesty musical challenges, and a cast of barely fleshed-out supporting players. Can a non-pimped singer break through the blatant manipulation and capture the hearts of the viewing audience, the way Kris Allen did back in season 8? Not if he or she never gets a second of screen time!

Gack, okay, let me slip a Lunesta to my premature conspiracy theories and send ’em off to bed. Instead, I’ll quit my griping and take a critical look at the 18 successful singers we saw tonight, attempting to break them down into three groups: Pretenders, Contenders, and Folks Who Could Still Go Either Way. Ready to take the “journey” with me? Then without further ado…

Tiffany Rios (pictured, bottom left): Look, it was going to be darn near impossible for Idol‘s answer to Snooki to overcome a first impression (“Hi! I’ve pasted giant silver stars on my, um, bikini!”) that was only marginally less classy than Antonella Barba’s toilet photos. But tonight’s performance sealed Tiffany’s fate as nothing more than curbside litter on the long road to the Nokia. “I’m gonna be honest,” she squawked, her hair sparkling with that gets-everywhere brand of glitter that falls off Christmas cards and lingers in your living room till August. “I’m tired of seeing people try to do what I know I can.” And then, amazingly, she did manage to do something we’ve never seen on the Idol stage: Willing herself to simultaneously pass a gallstone and Etta James’ “All I Could Do Was Cry.” Impressive!

Jacqueline Dunford: If she hadn’t been conveniently presented with a crying-prone boyfriend package that, according to Idol rules and regulations, had to end with one of ’em advancing and one of ’em getting cut (more on that in a minute), there’s no way her flat, sexless “Bring It On Home to Me” would’ve gotten her through to the next round.

Thia Megia: I began to suspect it during the audition rounds, but tonight’s performance of “Summertime” convinced me: The 15-year-old cutie has a borderline unpleasant vocal tone, and her cadence is kinda off-putting, too. That said, I wasn’t mad at her modern-day Rainbow Brite attire.

James Durbin: Steven Tyler seemed delighted by the headband-wearin’, fauxhawk-sportin’ contestant who got a three-hanky backstory during the San Francisco audition episode. But honestly, his interpretation of the Beatles’ “Oh Darlin'” was like dumping a gallon of house paint on a canvas and calling it art. Where was the control, the restraint, the…anything that didn’t involve cranking the volume till the veins in his head and neck threatened to pop?

Chris Medina: As surely as none of us is about to forget the gut-wrenching story of how Chris’ fiancée suffered a devastating brain injury, I suspect none of us will remember his utterly pedestrian cover of Jason Mraz’s “You and I.” I’m going to say out loud what the judges are afraid to do: Chris just simply doesn’t appear to have a strong enough voice for this competition. (Also, minus ten points to whatever Idol staffer slipped in Coldplay’s “Fix You” at the end of Chris’ segment. Seriously, Idol? Seriously?)

Brett Loewenstern (pictured, top right): “Boy’s got the blues,” nodded J.Lo, as the red-headed teenager finished a searing, slowed-down rendition of “Let It Be.” I can close my eyes right now, and still hear Brett’s voice in my head. Plus, his enunciation is stellar — a rare but totally righteous quality in a modern-day singer.

Rachel Zevita (pictured, top left): There’s the Rachel that J.Lo remembered from her season 6 audition! Girl has a chipotle-infused tone: It’s a little bit smoky, a little bit spicy, and it sticks with you for a while once you’ve experienced it. Her spin on Duffy’s “Warwick Avenue” — Idol does love it some Duffy lately, no? — was actually an improvement on the original.

Casey Abrams: Did I miss it during the Austin auditions, or was last night the first time Idol identified Casey’s job as “works at film camp”? We need the dude to stick around simply so we can learn more about that awesome-sounding gig, but also because his “Lullaby of Birdland” was a jazzy delight, scoring a standing O from the competition. Anyone else hoping the Idol stylists can tame dude’s straight-from-the-hamper look without drowning him in a new one?

Lauren Alaina: Sure, even Ke$ha might sound okay in the aftermath of Miss Teen USA Stormi Henley, but Uncle Nigel’s pet contestant balanced glory notes and tender moments rather nicely in her version of “Unchained Melody.” I’m not 100 percent sold, but I can’t hold her “favored one” status against her if she starts living up to the hype.

Robbie Rosen: Yeah, I gagged a little when Ryan said Robbie was working toward the realization of a dream he’d had for 10 years, seeing as how Robbie is only 16. (Wait: We’re not all suddenly supposed to be seriously evaluating the “when I grow up, I want to be…” dreams of kindergarteners, right?) But that aside, the kid displayed a ridiculous range and plenty of power on “Moody’s Mood for Love” (even if it no Idol version can ever surpass the season 5 cover by Elliott Yamin).

Rob Bolin (pictured, bottom right): Heartbroken half of Nashville’s “ex-lovers-auditioning-together” segment once again showed off a gravely good tone and a real ability to bring a story to life on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” (Also, I cannot lie: I’m super-partial to that song, and you’ve got to give some credit for solid song choices, no?)

Chelsee Oaks: Rob’s former girlfriend also has a really potent voice that’ll fit right in at country radio, but I thought I heard her getting a little quavery toward the end of her number.

Hollie Cavanagh: As emotionally unraveled and pitch-challenged as she was in her Austin audition, the kid really pulled it together for her rendition of Miley Cyrus’ “When I Look at You,” which was clear and strong and mercifully unaffected. Still need to hear her give back-to-back solid efforts; plus, it’s hard to get 100 percent behind a singer who’s 2-for-3 in choosing ditties from the Hannah Montana star’s oeuvre.

Paris Tassin: Okay, she was bearing “the weight of the world” during her audition (Ryan’s words, not mine), and yeah, she’s got an undeniable set of pipes, but her choice of the Titanic love theme makes me channel my inner Nina Garcia and question her taste level. Plus, Paris went a little sharp on one of the song’s major glory notes.

Jacee Badeaux: Didn’t miss a note on “Bless the Broken Road,” but his decision to sing about a man’s long and winding journey before finally settling down with his soulmate struck me as emotionally tone deaf. Still, the judges banged their sponsored beverage cups in celebration of his performance.

Jackie Wilson, Scott McCreary, and Jerome Bell: Your humble recapper reserves the right to turn his side-eye on any contestant who chooses to repeat his or her audition number as the first song of Hollywood Week, no matter how well (or not) they handle said ditty. That is all.

They do it every damn year, but it doesn’t make it any less maddening when Idol cuts a promising Golden Ticket holder during Hollywood Week without letting us hear a single note from the singer’s mouth. This year’s recipient of the Deanna Brown Memorial Award goes to Sarah Sellers, so spotless on “To Make You Feel My Love” in her New Orleans audition, who was rendered mute tonight by Cecile Frot-Coutaz and her army of music-haters. Whenever something like this happens, I assume the contestant was cut for no good reason, that the producers made their decision based more on casting than talent. Yet if I’m wrong, why wouldn’t the show simply shave 10 seconds off the “Victoria Huggins Has 11 Suitcases” highlight reel, and show us where a chick like Sarah went wrong?

In other “Who Got Booted?” News…

I was mighty impressed by the post-elimination attitudes of Travis Orlando, Steve Beghun, and Stormi Henley. The pageant champ, in particular, spoke plainly and didn’t try to dig up any excuses for her ouster. “You have to have an incredible voice,” she reasoned. “There was nothing I could do.” Travis, too, behaved like a well-adjusted human being, not like a rejected character from Willy Wonka, promising to continue working on his singing, and perhaps to even audition for Idol again next year. (I thought the judges made the right choice for all three, as well as for the aforementioned Ms. Huggins.)

One person who didn’t handle his rejection so impressively, though, was Nick Fink. After being told he was headed home for a one-note nonsense rendition of “New Shoes,” while girlfriend Jacqueline Dunford advanced to the next round, Nick planted his feet at the edge of the stage like a 4-year-old refusing to acknowledge his bedtime. “I wish you guys would let me sing some more,” he whined, apparently blind to the “sudden death” clause of this round of the competition. It all got very “And you! And you! And you! You’re gonna love me!” as Nick paused again in the auditorium aisle to try to belt out the chorus. “No, nope” said Randy, as J.Lo’s glittery visage shimmered with a patina of implied-yet-not-actualized tears. Jacqueline, for her part, put some distance between herself and her floundering man.

Good times, people. And the promise of more drama on the way next week.

What did you think of Hell Week: Round One: Season 10? Did anyone else feel a little bad for perky Victoria as Idol‘s elaborate “you have a chance to win this thing” ruse came crashing down on her head? Is anyone else as disgusted about the Sarah Sellers situation as I am? (Hrmmm…maybe she should be on an upcoming episode of Idoloonies!)

Speaking of which, we won’t have a new episode of our humble Webcast for you this week, but we will be shooting again next Friday for an episode that will air Monday, Feb. 21. Until then, do follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV for all my Idol coverage!

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  1. craig says:

    I was really pissed we didn’t get to see anyone new sing. WTF. Not happy at all. Also I don’t need to be re-told all the stories we already heard… I’ve been watching! I hope we get to hear some new folks next week… ugh.

    • the real wendy says:

      The Hollywood auditions are my favorite part of the show. This should have been two hours or two nights with four times the singing. What’s with the repeat sob stories… they must think we are stupid and didn’t get them the first time! Rip OFF!

      • fizzy says:

        The worst were the sob stories that aired on wednesday that they reaired on thursday. It’s been 24 hours, I think we can remember.

        • Micaela says:

          I was so dissapointed about this episode… There was nothing new to see.. My favorite (Scott Dangerfield) wasn’t feature, which probably means he didn’t make the cut.. Although I didn’t see him at all, so I don’t know… Right now I’m liking Brett Loewenstern a lot! But I’m not as slightly as impressed as I’d like to be.

          • forrest says:

            so are we to assume that this is so scripted that we will only see the same 18 backstories, the SAME 18 make the cuts, THE SAME 18 through to the live performances????? Where is the spontaneous performances of those we haven’t seen before? Danny Gokey all over again, don’t push the backstory in my face with every performance. Please.

  2. Rick says:

    If that crying mess James dude gets into the top 20 I may just bail. He was all over the place tonight, and that one so called glory note made me want to jab my ears with an icepick. His style isn’t my speed to begin with, I couldn’t stand Adam Lambert, but at least Lambert actually musically built to the big notes and had no problem hitting them.

    See, even I couldn’t help making a Lambert comparison, and the thought of sitting through a season where that keeps happening over and over and over is like a nightmare created especially to drive me to homicidal urges.

    • Bobbi says:

      Could not agree more!

    • McFudge says:

      Yeah, he was really really bad. And wasn’t he wearing a tail?

    • jennifer W says:

      It seems to be James has no idea who he is–just who he thinks he wants to be–and curse ANYONE who calls him Adam 2.0 or Adam Lite. There is and always will be one Adam.

      As for him doing the scarf thing a la David Cook, again, this kid needs to find his own identity.

    • Kate says:

      Although Lambert was definitely screamy, James reminds me more of Siobhan from last season who I personally couldn’t stand because she just ended every song with a scream. There was almost never any build to it and when there was, she would hit a relatively high note and then just jump to a deafening screech. His story was also like an American Idol sob story mad-libs and by the end of 3 weeks of sob stories, I didn’t really care anymore…

      • djm says:

        Yeah – I HATED Siobahn last season and this guy is just a total MESS! Sorry, but your dad died years ago – get over it and yourself. If you can’t stand on a stage and sing for less than 2 minutes without breaking into tears then you have A) mental issues and B) NO BUSINESS being on American Idol. Grow up and get some composure dude.

      • Linda says:

        “an American Idol sob story mad-libs” That made my day. Am I crazy thinking that he should take some ownership of his situation? The baby was a “surprise?” And now he barely has enough money to take care of it? I know life isn’t simple, and I feel for him for his genetic conditions, but I don’t want to watch him weep unless I know he’s doing more to resolve his situation than audition for American Idol.

  3. Tek says:

    1. Was glad to see Hugginz go bye bye, though her deer in the headlights look when she got booted gave me a small twinge of sympathy. She handled it with class, but if she shows on Idoloonies in person, I’m not watching that part. Bad enough with the yo yo dawg and hello everybody clips that will repeat all season long.

    2. I honestly can’t remember Sarah Sellers, so not missing her.

    3. Mark my words…Jujube girl will be this year’s Tatyana! Can’t wait til they send her ooh ooh bees and attitude packing.

    4. I cringe everytime I see little Jacee B. He looks too emotionally fragile to be doing this. I have a 15 yr old son…if Jacee were mine I would have made him wait.

    5. I HATE that all the sob stories were recycled from the show although I like the poorly executed idea of following someone thru their journey. Instead of the sickening sweet wannabe singing couple of nick and what’s her face, how about picking Naima or John Wayne or the piano teacher guy instead of Jerome the louder I sing it the more I like my own voice Bell.

    6. Gotta kill the repeating song thing…note to Scotty McCreary, whom I’m a little disappointed in, Josh turner has more than one song…really he does.

    7. Don’t thing there will be a Hollywood group round that will knock Blake Lewis’ off my pedestal. Gotta give props to any guys who can sing The BeeGees AND make them sound cool.

    8. J. Lo was right about Stormi guys…stop judging with your libido.

    9. Belly dancing girl: you don’t have enough talent to make it on talent alone in singing or belly dancing. Bye bye.

    10. Was nice to see a bright smile that reached his eyes after “lonesome” was a success for him. He deserves it after continually be paired with his ex by producers which is obviously painful for him.

    • Tek says:


      7. Think, not thing.
      10…talking about Rob. And the be after continually should be being.

      11. Does anyone else think that nick’s girlfriend told him to do that song and how great he sang it knowing it would be a train wreck so he could move on without him???

  4. Angelo Barovier says:

    GOOD NEWS: Sounds like (aside from the evil glee I would enjoyed watching the Huggins ouster) I missed nothing when I missed this ep.

    BAD NEWS: No new Idoloonies this week? /lukeSkywalker “No. That’s not true. That’s impossible! Noooooooooooo! Nooo. No. *gurgle* No…”

    • djm says:

      OMG – when they kicked her to the curb I literally was clapping – HARD enough to freak my dogs out – and said a big THANK YOU JUDGES out loud. I could not have tolerated her for one more second.

  5. Calli says:

    I’m left wondering what happened to Adrienne Beasley, the adopted farmers’ daughter they highlighted during the audition shows. There was no mention of her at all… did she make it to Hollywood, was she cut, did she move on?

  6. Yo says:

    I thought Nick Fink had to be a plant. He was incredibly poised – so confident, comfortable in his body, and then he lost it. I didn’t find his exit at all believable.

  7. Samantha F says:

    I am also already sick of the “featured” contestants. You don’t need to recap a story we just heard YESTERDAY or a few days ago. We remember. Hearing ZERO new people last night makes me lose all my idol mojo.

  8. darclyte says:

    I’m a little bit confused by Slezak so far this season. He’s been rough on people who have done ok, but praised people who I’ve found wanting. For instance, I thought that Jacqueline had much improved from her initial audition, and deserved to go on, but Michael makes it sound like she only got a pass for the tv drama it would create. he also spoke highly of Rob of the “ex couple,” although I found his performance weak. It started off very poorly and finished only marginal. I still say that if James Durbin is Adam Lambert Lite, then Rob is a Lesser Lee DeWyze. Lee’s album has all but flopped so far, what would this guy’s chances be?

    He said that Sarah Sellers is the Deanna Brown Memorial Winner, but I think that the award should be named the Tami Gosnell Memorial Award. She sang Whipping Post in Season 6, and Michael ranked it as the # 5 best audition ever, but she got cut in Hollywood and we never got to see why. Click the link on my name to see her audition (sorry, I couldn’t find it on YouTube.)

  9. darclyte says:

    Michael said that Sarah Sellers is the Deanna Brown Memorial Winner, but I think that the award should be named the Tami Gosnell Memorial Award. I don’t recall Deanna Brown, but Tamie sang Whipping Post in Season 6, and Michael ranked it as the # 5 best audition ever, but she got cut in Hollywood and we never got to see why. Her audition is on (sorry, I couldn’t find it on YouTube.)

    I’m a little bit confused by Slezak so far this season. He’s been rough on people who have done ok, but praised people who I’ve found wanting. For instance, I thought that Jacqueline had much improved from her initial audition, and deserved to go on, but Michael makes it sound like she only got a pass for the tv drama it would create. he also spoke highly of Rob of the “ex couple,” although I found his performance weak. It started off very poorly and finished only marginal. I still say that if James Durbin is Adam Lambert Lite, then Rob is a Lesser Lee DeWyze. Lee’s album has all but flopped so far, what would this guy’s chances be?

    • lukien says:

      easy … Slezak is losing his mojo, he used to be sarcastically funny and passionate with a purpose … but lately his review just blah blah blah like Ke$ha, even his usual rampage seems less invested. Perhaps Slezak is channeling Simon in his last year in Idol before jumping ship … oh wait … Slezak had jumped ship already hehehe bye bye ewwwww … perhaps Slezak is mad that only less than 50 comments here everytime while in ewwww he used to get like hundreds of comments … another jumping of ship before end of AI 10? hehehe

      • Owen says:

        Right answer.

      • Mel says:

        Hey, cut it out. Slezak is my boyfriend. I love his writing and look forward to it the morning after every Idol episode.

      • Hooch says:

        Orrr it could be that Slezak just happens to have different opinions than you. Obviously he’s going to get less comments than at, this site is brand new, they are a corporate giant. As for his opinions themselves, I also think Jacqueline was surprisingly better than he gives her credit for. Something about her still irks me, but my respect went up for her when she appeared to be totally mortified by her bf’s ridiculousness (“well…i’ll just be leaving now…”). I thought Rob was really good though. Really, really good with an Alex (not Adam) Lambert type voice, but more confidence and better showmanship.

      • Lunakit says:

        Michael, don’t you listen to that nonsense!! LOVE me some Slezak…. I also wondered about getting Sarah Sellers for Idoloonies and was glad to read that you are already thinking that (great minds, and all!) It would be fantastic listening to someone who has recently been through that rabbit hole. I would love her take on why she thought she was cut so soon.

  10. McFudge says:

    What struck me about so many contestants is their lack of phrasing. Any time there was a note longer than a quarter note they all seem to take a breath. It’s jarring and ugly. I remember thinking a lot of them did it, but I seem to remember Alaina in particular.

    • RubyBaby says:

      Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Couldn’t agree with your comment more McFudge! I picked up on that about Alaina too. I suspect it’s because she and others have not had much singing experience and/or vocal training and have not yet learned techniques in breathing control.

      Most people without training will sing from the throat taking shallow breaths…that is they don’t take air in up from the diaphraghm. That results in a) a lack of power towards the end of a phrase – needing to breathe where you really shouldn’t have to and b) the annoying breathiness some singers can have often have too. A vocal coach can get rid of these pronto, especially in someone young or they wont have much of a career for long, unless that person just wont listen!!

  11. SybilT says:

    Holly Cavanaugh really impressed me. I thought it was a huge mistake to put her through to Hollywood when she broke down (and sung poorly) during her audition, but she really stepped it up.

    I’m also angry that we didn’t get to hear Sarah Sellars sing. Her audition was good enough to deserve more than a “and also booted was…” edit. And I’m also upset that we have no word of Adrienne Beasley. I thought I saw her sitting in the auditorium at one point, but nothing about whether she made it through or bombed. She auditioned really well, and her back story was heartwarming without being a sob story. Why no love, Nigel?

    Jacee is just too young. And he’s singing as if he were in the Vienna Boys Choir, not American Idol.

    Chris Medina really bombed out. I thought his audition was good, but last night was not even mediocre. I think they put him through because it would simply have been too embarrassing for the producers to cut him so early after pimping him so hard. As for James, he’s got a powerful instrument but he’s badly in need of some vocal coaching. Hopefully, if he stays in the competition, he’ll get some.

  12. Holly says:

    Michael, please spend your Idoloonies “week off” securing an interview with Sarah Sellers!! Before I even got to that suggestion in your recap, I was thinking “Sarah Sellers should appear on Idoloonies.” It would be very cool to hear straight from the horse’s mouth what went down in Hollywood. And, Sarah is a very talented singer who deserves a platform. As for the rest of them, I have done a complete “180” over Hollie Cavanaugh. She was such a mess in her initial audition, and I figured she would self-destruct in Hollywood. However, she commanded the stage like a potential star! Good for her. Have to respectfully disagree with you about Rachel Zevita. She seems like a lightweight to me.

    • Amy says:

      ITA about Rachel Zevita. I have been unimpressed both times I’ve heard her sing.

      • Solo says:

        Michael wrote, “Thia Megia: I began to suspect it during the audition rounds, but tonight’s performance of “Summertime” convinced me: The 15-year-old cutie has a borderline unpleasant vocal tone, and her cadence is kinda off-putting, too.”

        Yea, that was my thinking the first time I heard her — she clips her words very strongly. It’s annoying.

  13. Ghost of Kelly Clarkson says:

    Thank god we are at Hollywood week. I could not stand another gimmicky audition plant…Michael, I agree with your comment that the singers should not repeat their initial audition performances; it makes them seem like one trick ponies. Case in point: Tatiana del Toro, who sang the same song in two auditions and in her “sudden death” sing-off performance.

  14. DL says:

    The inexplicable Sarah Sellers elimination was the biggest travesty of the season thus far, in my opinion.

  15. Tuzo says:

    James Durbin: this one goes to eleven.

  16. jado says:

    Dear Idol producers:

    Please give us clips of performers we haven’t seen before for Hollywood week. Sure, I get that you want to build momentum for your favorites, but here’s your chance to add intensity to the competition, and you blew it. Do you honesty believe that the viewers would like your narrative choices? Let’s see a show of hands from the viewers….Hands up anyone who DOESN’T want to see any new singers for Hollywood Week. Hmmm. Not one hand. So why did you all your viewers down? Seriously why?

    • Dave in Hollywood says:

      Amen. In this era of Youtube and other sites on the internet, how hard would it be too put up vids of each contestant singing in Hollywood? It would be like the secondary channels for the Olympics where they show, oh, the Latvian shot-put team, etc.

      And a little tip for Nigel & Cecile? You can put it on the net and get commercial advertising to play occasionally throughout, i.e. more money in your pockets. Win-win.

  17. Ashley says:

    I don’t even know why the judges decide to pimp people so early in the competition. It almost always backfires on them. I haven’t watched every season of Idol, but at least for the past three years, the winners have not been the judges’ “chosen ones.” Viewers get tired of being told how great someone is that they don’t like (or just isn’t as good as the judges claim) and they revolt. David Cook and Kris Allen winning were not the preordained “Idol journeys” the producers had in mind, and they had to scramble to change course when talent won out over machinations.

    • Owen says:

      Well, the thing is, the Preordained From the Beginning DO end up lasting till the very end sometimes. We did not see much of Cook or Allen at auditions, it was all about Archie and Lambert. Who may not have won, but the pimping have given them careers, possibly longer lasting careers than the Idols that beat them…

      Then of course there’s Lee and Crystal who were not pimped until the actual live shows started. And we can all name a long list of the Audition Pimped, that self destructed upon entering the Top 24.

      • Eolra says:

        Actually, in Allen’s season, it was *Gokey* who was obscenely pimped, not Lambert. Lambert was not considered a contender by the PTB until much later in the live shows. Adam’s audition was shown, but he didn’t get any kind of backstory package )that was repeated over and over and over add nauseum) like Gokey did, and Simon didn’t go on the Tonight Show and talk about how great he is, like he did with Gokey. The *media* may have been most interested in Lambert due to his sexual orientation, but that did not reflect the pimpage of the judges/producers. It’s true that both Archie and Gokey lasted to the end, and may have some semblance of careers, however I disagree that either of them have eclipsed the career of their respective season’s winner.

  18. Diana says:

    Also, what the hell happened to the singing waitress from New York? I can’t remember her name but I sure as hell can remember her voice, and last night all I kept thinking was “Where is she?”. She was definitely one of my favorites during the auditions round and I would’ve liked to see her again last night. Same goes for Adrienne Beasley.
    As for Sarah Sellers when they said she didn’t make it through I just went WTF??? I mean, with as good a first audition as she had, she had to have really messed it up in Hollywood not to make it through and I would’ve like to see that with my own eyes…
    Wow, glad I got that off my chest! :-)

  19. Sherry says:

    Did anyone notice what happened to John Wayne? I didn’t see him at all.

    • Jessica says:

      I saw him for a second and he was smiling with others so I think he went through. maybe? lol.

      • Sherry says:

        Oh good – I’m not a huge country fan but thought he seemed like a nice & guy (& not too bad to look at either). I hope he’s still there.

    • Jessica says:

      I immediately thought of Michael when they said Sarah Sellers was gone. So far on AI the only good thing is the judges. Although what is up about them letting that trashy NJ girl go through and not Travis Orlando?? I must of missed something but he definitely needed another shot. Disappointed in the redoing audition songs. Robbie Rossen was good (Merrick NY guy) and the girl who sang the Titanic song. I can’t believe that girl crying “I’m just so *sob* happy” went through. Looking forward to group week to get rid of more of them. They probably put that NJ girl though just for the drama of it all.

      • Mel says:

        I am reeling. Reeling!! I thought the Jersey Shore star-spangled so-tan-I’m-orange girl was BOOTED. You mean she’s STILL THERE? We got to hear J.Lo say “I liked her in the audition but I don’t like her today.” (Aside to J.Lo: LOVE YOU!) Why does Idol do this to me every year – all their backstory-fueled pimping, and why do I keep coming back?? Someone help. Is there a 12-step program for this kind of addiction??

        • Snsetblaze says:

          I can’t believe J-Lo said that and she still went through. I’m from NJ and she’s an embarrassment to many of us. She can sing – ok – not great. But she has no himility and a little of that goes a long way.

    • Catrina says:

      He passed round one.

  20. Milwaukee Mark says:

    Michael….I had two names written down from auditions…only two…that I wanted to see make it. They were White House intern Molly DeWolf Swenson and Sarah Sellers. I kept my eyes peeled for them last night and was STUNNED when they announced Sarah was eliminated and we never got to judge for ourselves. I believe you’re right, the sob story favorites seem to be hand-picked. I can’t imagine after being only one of two to impress me, that Sarah could be dumped so soon. Thank goodness Molly didn’t get clobbered too, although it would have been nice to hear her instead of a repeat of the tear-stained footage of the producers’ favorite back stories. Michael…your metaphors are the best in the industry. My favorite this time was Tiffany Rios passing (what must have been a rather robust) gall stone.

  21. Sgamegig says:

    What is different about this season’s process? Ryan keeps mentioning the changes, but, new judges aside, what changes/improvements have they made? Honestly, did we need to see the SOB stories rehashed last night? A montage of those contestants would have sufficed. I want to see TALENT! I could not agree more about seeing what happened with Sarah Sellers. The Idol puppetmasters need to stop casting the show and manipulating the viewers, and find the next Idol worthy of the moniker.

  22. R. Carr says:

    My favorite right now is Rob Bolin. I’m much more interested in how a person sounds than how technically good he is. Although I admit I’m not sure how well his voice will translate to non-bluesy songs.

  23. JayK says:

    Blah! Bad taste in my mouth on this one. (Or maybe a bland taste.) You’re right, it’s all about the cast. Hardly anyone got cut that we knew, so it was mostly a night of not giving a crap when people got the boot. (Sad about Travis – hope he comes back next year.) So boring to not hear anyone new. And James Durbin could be great, I think, with some training. I hope he gets that chance.

  24. J. May says:

    Call me crazy but, although Rob Bolin and his ex sang really well, I could think of nothing but Lee and Crystal (lite) redux. Haven’t we seen this before? And really? Tiffany Rios over Travis Orlando? I have a bad feeling about this season…

  25. CMJ says:

    *sigh* Big (sexy) Goon is gone. :(

  26. jennifer W says:

    So far, the “talent” from this year is as far fetched as the “talent” from last year.

    Crystal was the only talent, and while I enjoyed her, she was just entertaining to me. Lee winning was the biggest joke since Taylor Hicks.

    There hasn’t been a truly talented season in a long time, there is always a front runner. David Cook was a front runner, and Adam should have won over Kris Allen.

    Idol is slowing losing me.

    • Jonathan says:

      I know he was a commercial flop, but Taylor was what got me watchimg Idol for real (before which I had tuned in a few times for the wacky/awful auditions, which I can now barely tolerate). The way he gleefully ripped through a friggin’ Doobie Brothers song, of all things, showed me that this show could be about more than showboaty Xtina/Celine/Mariah-style music. The fact that he won kept me glued to the TV and I came back for more. Lee, on the other hand, drove me crazy with his lack of charisma (no matter what you think of Taylor, ya gotta love the sparkly eyes) and bland voice. The blatant pimping of mediocre contestants (*cough*GOKEY*cough*) even when they’ve obviously flubbed makes this show unbearable at times.

      • flutiefan says:

        i am a Lee fan and Gokey has a technically superior voice. no idea waht you’re talking about. Taylor was a one-note joke.

  27. Jen says:

    Sarah Sellers was robbed! Why didn’t they show her singing last night?? I agree with most of the other comments on here too. Enough of the sob stories….who cares…it should be about their voices and nothing more.

    Michael you MUST get Sarah to do Iodloonies…I am dying to know what happened there.

  28. Teresa says:

    Can a non-pimped singer break through the blatant manipulation and capture the hearts of the viewing audience, the way Kris Allen did back in season 8? Not if he or she never gets a second of screen time!

    Thing of it is, we’d never have gotten the chance to vote on Kris Allen at all with a 20 or 24 singer semi-final. If you look at who was pimped in Season 8, then Allen would have been guy #13 or 14.

    It is disappointing when an early audience favorite gets cut. I’m not sure I buy into the conspiracy theory, though. My feeling (and maybe I’m giving AI too much credit) is that the producers highlight these good auditioners partly because they like them too. But if someone they like gives a great audition and then sings badly in the sudden death round, they’d like to let us know she’s gone without embarrassing her needlessly.

    It’s very different with Victoria Huggens. Don’t you get the feeling that the producers found her as annoying as we did?

    I’m hoping we get back to Adrienne Beasley and Naima Adepopo in the next round. But I kind of fear for Adrienne. She’s really sweet, but even in her audition package, I couldn’t see her getting far in the competition. I don’t think she’s worldly enough to survive — it’s entirely possible that she never even showed up in Hollywood to begin with.

    • Freddie Simmons says:

      Thank you for maybe the best compliment my daughter, Adrienne Beasley, has recieved. When you said,”I don’t think she’s worldly enough to survive” in Hollywood, that made my day!

  29. Margie says:

    I have to agree with Michael’s recap. His numbers summarized what I was feeling last night. I’m losing hope in this season. I thought that the return of Nigel as Exec Producer was a good thing but all we’re getting is more of what didn’t work before… more pimping, more sob stories (and some of them are a stretch when it comes to sob-ability), more manipulation of the viewers.

    Here’s my suggestion. When it gets to the top 20, we vote for anyone who hasn’t been pimped. It won’t be VFTW, it’ll be Vote For Someone New.

    And Michael, Sarah Sellers was tweeting last night – you should be able to track her down.

  30. Kaddy says:

    Slezak: Gack, okay, let me slip a Lunesta to my premature conspiracy theories and send ‘em off to bed.

    Gack! You’re the best! Idolunacy is Idolocity because of you! Or something.

  31. Betsy says:

    I wish the producers would take your advice – AI would be a much better show if they did! Love your recaps, thanks!

  32. Marta says:

    As much as we all (myself included) can get frustrated that they didn’t show any new auditions– we also are frustrated when we don’t see previously introduced-to-us contestants in the Hollywood rounds (ex. Sarah Sellers). Ya win some, ya lose some, I suppose.

    That being said- I can’t believe NO ONE has brought up Ashley Sullivan. That’s a plant in hopes she’s a terror in Group Round (which she will be). If TPTB really wanted to prove to me they never try to pull the wool over my eyes, they would have shown just how that crazy made it through the round on her talent. Eek.

  33. AM says:

    Thank you, thank you, for mentioning Elliott Yamin. He had the best voice on Idol ever.

  34. John says:

    I’m sad that Sarah Sellers got cut from the show. I was hoping she would at least make it into the top 20. I have been watching her Youtube videos and she has an amazing voice.

  35. Marta says:

    As much as we all (myself included) get frustrated when they don’t show a previously-shown-contestant’s Hollywood audition (ex. Sarah Sellers)- we are equally as frustrated when they don’t show new auditioners. Can’t win um all, I guess.

    Also- I can’t believe NO ONE is talking about Ashley Sullivan! There’s a total plant they’re hoping freaks out in Group Round (which she will). But if TPTB really wanted to prove that they are running a legit show, they would have shown just HOW that crazy got through the first round on her talent. “Oh- and there was even room for Ashley Sullivan!” Pleasssse. Don’t do us dirty like that, Idol.

  36. Emma says:

    The lack of Idol Moments was scary, and they showing ONLY the front runners was absolutely infuriating. Makes me feel like the producers think that the viewers are so dumb and without an attention span that only about twenty singers can be introduced (and re-introduced!) during the whole season.

  37. madeleine says:

    Pretty much agree with the recap, except you didn’t really note how incredibly super BORING it was. Backstories? yawn. I have grown completely immune to them all. Can I please just hear some good, maybe even really good singing? Now that would be riveting.

  38. Clare says:

    Maybe Sarah Sellers f*rted and they didn’t let her finish.

  39. Vetle says:

    Sarah Sellers. =”'( Show us the damn footage. How can they cut her, without showing the footage.

    A couple of contestants I’m a happy to see gone. But I caaaaan’t get over Sarah Sellers.. :/

    Casey Abrams sounded kinda rough, I still feel he doesn’t know his limits sometimes. Kinda shouty.

    I’m kinda disappointed with Scott ‘country dude’ singing the same song as the audition. And Jackie, but she sounded good(!). Jerome Bell is… meh.

    And Tiffany… so annoying. And Clint… DROP THE DAMN GLASSES. lol

    Oh well. Hope we see some new standouts in group round.

    I was kinda disappointed with the episode. Seeing Sarah Sellers get cut (on her fifth attempt on Idol) was heartbreaking, and ALSO, no singing from her. :S

  40. John Berggren says:

    I would honestly rather see more episodes of Hollywood week and fewer of the initial audition rounds. I like that they tended more towards quality and less towards freakshow in this years auditions at least.

  41. Lauren says:

    When they eliminated Sellers I was like “Slezak is probably buggin’ right now.” Lo and behold I was right!

  42. Cat says:

    Tiffany Rios thru to the second round? My husband who knew nothing about her “startastic” audition, heard her sing and her pronouncement and was gobsmacked at her promotion to the next level….seriously Idol, how can we respect you in the morning when u r willing to let this poor deluded soul continue her journey thru another night on her way to the inevitable curb?

  43. susan says:

    You know, I didn’t mind Victoria Huggins as so many others did. If you’re going to put a 16 year old on my screen, I’ll take perky and positive over bird-flippin’, f-bomb droppin’, negative nastiness any day. That’s just me. :)

    And Michael, I’m totally with you on Sarah Sellers! She was one of the few I remembered whom I wanted to watch for in Hollywood Week.

    I am also not feeling the love for James that the judges are.

    I had such high hopes for this season just a couple of weeks ago…. now I am getting a little afraid of the casting and manipulation I’m seeing.

  44. Joyce says:

    I watched half an hour and shut it off. I should have known better not to check my expectations at the door. What was that drivel on last night? I am a fickle viewer I admit, but I am a viewer and a fan of American Idol since the very beginning. I cried tears of joy for Kelly Clarkson oh so many years ago. American Idol gave me Adam Lambert and I am grateful. But last night’s episode insulted me. And TMZ broke the story that Nick and Jacqueline were not a real couple but a fabrication. I fear American Idol Season 10 will be a fabrication too. Too bad because Steven Tyler is amazing.

    • Hooch says:

      Is that true? They aren’t a real couple? That actually is really irritating. It’s one thing to over-do the backstories, but it’s lame to just flat out make them up.

      • Tulip says:

        yes Hooch, it seems to be true. TMZ ran the story on 2/3/11. I was bummed too, but I’m starting to be bummed in general about AI.

    • j.christopher says:

      not a surprise at all about Nick and Jaqueline not really being a couple…as previously noted, his audition tantrum seemed a little too polished/rehearsed…I’m guessing AI hired him to create false couple drama…

  45. john t. says:

    michael, did you happen to see former american junior member, danielle white in the beginning of the episode? it’s funny how two AJ contestants, aj melendez and her tried out during the same season :D

  46. Liva says:

    I’ve got a lot of patience for guys like James Durbin. What guts he has to go for American Idol. It’s this kind of guy ends up in bands like Aerosmith and GnR. Unfortunately, not so in style these days. He’s got a great, raw rock voice and ya, he doesn’t know how to control it. I think the American Idol audience will be particularly nasty with him, but that doesn’t mean the kid isn’t gifted.

  47. Hooch says:

    I won’t miss Sarah Sellers, I didn’t find her first audition that memorable, but I know the feeling the rest of you have. That’s how I felt when they inexplicably got rid of Lenesha Young (think that was her name?) 2 or 3 seasons ago. I can STILL hear her self-composed audition song in my head. (“I like your thuggish wayyys….”)
    I really like Brett Loewenstern’s voice, but he needs to relax in his video confessionals!
    I think James Durbin is too emotionally unstable to make it in the competition, he needs to pull it together. Which maybe isn’t possible given his conditions, but it’s going to be hard for him I think. That, and he’s not good enough.
    Love Rob Bolin , reminds me of Alex Lambert in terms of voice … and even better, doesn’t constantly look like he’s going to crap his pants and probably wouldn’t turn out to be a toolbag after being booted from the show and put on some reality show.

  48. Larry 77 says:

    Uhhhh, Mr. Lythgoe, are you “listening” to this? Can you read? Will you screw up Idol still/again? Maybe you’re afflicted by the Hosni Mubarak Power Tripp Syndrome and are therefore cluelessly indisposed to do the “will of the people”? And by the way, the apology for Steven Tyler was totally disrespectful of your faithful viewers. Just another American Idol cynically contrived lie, clear for all to see. Steven Tyler didn’t edit the clips which were aired; you did. You put it all on a platter and then served it up for viewing. Then you threw Tyler under the bus and mocked Idol fans on your Tweets. What are you thinking?

  49. Leigh says:

    How could they reduce this episode to one hour? We saw the same people, the same back stories and no one new. Ryan said twice as many people made it through this year. Yeah, that’s because they sent through anyone who could carry a tune and because of that they couldn’t begin to show anyone else who might have potential. I agree with Michael. In fact, I was thinking the same thing – showing footage of the annoying girl and her family without hearing one note of the awesome Sarah Sellers. Was so disappointed with this episode.

  50. scrutinizer says:

    MS…as always, you are so spot on in this recap….your mention of Paris’ sharp note, the dismissal of Sarah with no singing footage and Rachel’s tasty chipotle voice. It was like reading something I might have written after last night’s very producer biased and uneven episode ;)
    Just love reading recaps by someone with the musical ear and knowledge necessary to give valid critiques. And aside from that, you sure know how to make a guy LOL!!!