American Idol Recap: Legend of the Fall

Wednesday night’s installment of American Idol — focusing on Day 1 of Season 11 Hollywood Week — ended with a horrifying cliffhanger: Lovely and poised 16-year-old Symone Black falling off the stage and hitting the auditoruim floor in a horrific heap. But fret not, Idoloonies, I’ve got the transcript — made up entirely in my brain — of what happened next:

My shoes! My shoes! I think that girl splattered a drop of blood or something on my $12,500 shoes!

Yeah, yeah, yeah! Hollywood Week, baby! Season 11 is ON!

Who got the shot? Camera guys, did any of you get the shot? Who got the bloody shot? Oh, just call the medics.

(hysterical now)
Where’s my assistant? Assistant! Assorted commoners! Anyone! I need someone to check my Louboutin Platinum-Labels for fluids — immédiatement!

Hey, do you think Haley Reinhart has anything to do with this accident? I’ll bet she does. Freakin’ Haley.

Bass guitar and waters muddy. Let’s pray the kid don’t wind up bloody. Hey diddle-diddle, now let’s play ball. Did anybody catch that crazy fall?

(opening her eyes, still groggy)
Um, did I make it through to Group Rounds?

Oh come now. Of course the Esteemed Judges aren’t going to send Symone packing when Idol resumes Thursday night. And not out of sympathy, either. The kid’s rendition of “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” was positively sublime — showcasing a soulfulness and patience you wouldn’t expect from someone young enough to use the phrase “stage dad” without an eye roll or a hint of resentment.

American Idol: Top 10 Auditions of Season 11

And of course Symone can’t have been too badly injured, either. I mean, let’s be honest: If there are any concussions or broken bones or facial lacerations when the show returns from its tacky cliffhanger, Uncle Nigel will be drawn and quartered at the intersection of Twitter and Facebook, right? (I know, I know…my faith in the dignity, decency, and good taste of reality television betrays a shocking naïveté for someone who’s been covering the genre for almost a decade.)

In any event, the show must go on. And so we must talk about the other Hollywood Week hopefuls — and, you know, their actual singing — even if it the endless loop of Symone’s collapse going into and out of every commercial break made you feel like you were watching a special edition of Winter Wipeout.

The episode followed roughly half of the 309 singers who scored Golden Tickets at their auditions. Similar to previous years, these vocalists were separated into groups of 10, asked to give a capella auditions, and then either allowed into the next round or sent home. Let’s break the featured contestants into three groups: Contenders, Pretenders, and “Probably Weeping With the Bartender.” (Eh, I tried too hard to rhyme there; let’s just label that last group “Eliminated.” And let’s add in a “Too Early to Tell” column, just for good measure.)

Johnny Keyser: His cover of Amos Lee’s “Dreamin” was muddied up by too much melisma and too many runs. But even if Christina Aguilera is his spirit animal, he’s got an undeniable skill set. That said, he’s getting the “confident, bordering on cocky” edit; is Uncle Nigel setting him up for a tearful takedown?

Elise Testone: I don’t care what anyone says: Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” is totally cool. And Elise threw that shrimp down on the barbie and gave it her own gravelygravelly-blues spice. I just wish stupid-face had let her finish the chorus.

Baylie Brown: The way she finessed the Jody Watley gem “If I’m Not in Love” (later popularized by Faith Hill, but srsly, check out Jody’s) made it seem like someone had let Michael Phelps get in the water at a middle-school swim meet. Girlfriend is gonna go far.

Hallie Day: Nobody’s going to touch Crystal Bowersox’s Hollywood Week rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” but this was soulful and sexy nevertheless.

Jen Hirsh: MIA from the audition rounds, but displayed crazy control and plenty of range — and a little bit of flirtatious humor, too, when she told Steven her last little run of notes was just for him.

David Leathers, Jr.: Anyone who can tackle “Because You Loved Me” and not make me hit the mute button must be doing something right. Certainly showboated in places, but showed subtlety and restraint during his performance, too. Now he just needs to stop with the lay-deeeees man shtick.

Jessica Phillips: If you’re gonna cover Whitney, thank you for not choosing “I Have Nothing,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” or “I Will Always Love You.” Jessica nailed every note, and was feeling it so much that she had to add her own little umphs and exhalations between every line. I was feeling it, too. Mmm-hmm. Yes. Mmmkay? Now if Idol would just stop putting subtitles under her perfectly understandable boyfriend. Mmm-hmm. Yes. Mmmkay?

Erika Van Pelt: Her red plaid tablecloth shirt and slingshot doubling as a vest were oustandingly awful, but her version of Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” showcased tons of vocal firepower. (Note: Idol stylists, please be gentle if Erika makes it through to the live shows.)

Jeremy Rosado: Infectious-disease doctor receptionist pronounced “said” as “shed,” but I can’t be too mad at his big voice and goofy-polite personality. That rendition of “Superstar” was kinda Ruben 2.o, with more carefully coiffed eyebrows.

Heejun Han: He’s providing great color commentary — “Everyone is so tall, so pretty. Even the guys are pretty. I don’t know what they eat.” — but the self-deprecating cutie covered the same song in Hollywood (“How Am I Supposed to Live Without You”) that he did in his audition. Is he anything more than a solid Michael Bolton impersonator?

Reed Grimm: First the “Family Matters” theme, and now “I Got a Golden Ticket” from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory? I just cahhhhhhhhn’t with his ham and precious sandwich. And yeah, his fellow contestants went wild, but maybe because they know this is one guy who’ll never make it all the way to “This Is My Now.”

Shannon Magrane: Too much like listening to someone singing along to Alicia Keys’ “Fallin” in the car, and not enough like listening to an artist in her own right, y’know what I mean?

Creighton Fraker: Another hideous vest — did I see frayed white denim before fainting from the sheer indignity of it all? — and a giant anvil of vocal tics and nonsense dropped atop “Somebody to Love.” Uncle Nigel, make it stop! (He’s not going to make it stop, is he?)

Lauren Gray: Her gravely tone is right in my iPod’s wheelhouse (sorry for my use of “wheelhouse”), but just like in her audition, Lauren was pushing Adele’s “One and Only” so hard, I half-expected her to leave a kidney stone behind on the stage.

Phillip Phillips: Obviously more comfortable with a guitar in hand, he almost seemed to be strumming an invisible one as he gave a serviceable but slightly strained “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” Was he playing with the melody a little or just off pitch?

Adam Brock: I dug the snippet of his audition-round “Stormy Weather” a lot more than his Hollywood rendition of “Walking in Memphis,” where his rhythmic and melodic choices made about as much sense as replacing Cheryl Cole with Nicole Shoesandleggings on X Factor. Also: Heejun’s color commentary > Adam’s color commentary.

Aaron Marcellus: I liked his audition snippet from earlier in the season, but his “ladies, Jennifer” before an overwrought “Here and Now” was like the melted cheese splashing over the entree in the Applebee’s ad of Hollywood Week.

NBA Dancer Brittany Kerr, Broadway-Gaga type Angie Zeiderman

Travis Orlando: His version of “My One Desire” was solid, but not spectacular. And while it’s hard to watch a teenager sobbing and saying things like “I have to go back to nothing — nothing at all,” I really wish one of the judges had taken him aside and said, “Go back and get your high-school diploma, and then we can talk about Season 12.”

Jane Carrey: That enigmatic giggle at the end of “Looking Out My Back Door” might’ve signaled to the judges that Jim Carrey’s daughter was disappointed in her own performance. I actually thought she sounded pretty good, though, if I’m being completely honest. Also: Major hair upgrade! (Just sayin’.)

Also booted: Ramiro Garcia, the guy who was born without ears; Wolf Hamlin, who looks like a werewolf a little; Jenni Schick, the teacher who kissed Steven on the lips; Linda Williams, the woman J.Lo tried to veto from getting through on looks alone during the “J.Lo is the only judge listening” montage; and (if my eyes did not deceive me) Kristine Osorio, who used her divorce attorney money to fly to her audition.

What did you think of Day 1 of Hollywood Week? Were you turned off that the show left us hanging about Symone’s audition? And who were your favorites and least favorites on the night? Sound off below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Danielle Notaro says:

    Rosado- not so good in my book
    That one kid without the guitar sounds like Dave MAtthews.

    • SallyinChicago says:

      Betcha Phillip Phillip gets through to the top 24 because? He’s pretty. And AI always attracts the little girls.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      And I was never a Dave Matthews fan, either. I kind of agree with Mr. Slezak – His “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” sounded a bit off-pitch in spots.

  2. susela says:

    Jane Carrey could have been great—I think she’s got the chops—but she chose the wrong song and then sang it frenetically. I was sorry to see her nerves get the better of her.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I agree – I’ve already given her the “Could you have picked a more ridiculous song?” award.
      A better song choice might have helped.

      • My Alter Ego says:

        D.E.T– just how many different award categories do you have in your repertoire?
        In case you are hoping someone will give you a “you made me laugh” star, just know that in any given thread you are likely to have provided at least one laugh for me — and I thank you for it.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          Well, thanks. I’m sure I’ll come up with some other awards. I think tonight’s broadcast gets the “Worst singing program ever that featured almost no singing” award. Is it my imagination, but I don’t ever recall a broadcast of Idol with one percent singing and 99% drama.

  3. Devon says:

    Creighton rocks dude. Omg you have horrible taste. As i remember you didn’t like HAley much either at the beginning. I’ll be back maybe during the live rounds cause you seem to have no clue before that :P

  4. B.Rich says:

    Phillip Phillips and Reed Grimm were awful last night

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I wasn’t a big fan of Phillip Phillips when he auditioned and I’m not quite sure what all the fuss was about. I wouldn’t have put him through to the next round. quite honestly I thought Travis Orlando was better. I’m still not sure what the fuss is about.
      I think Reed Grimm has talent but he needs to stop acting like he’s auditioning for the part of Professor Harold Hill in “The Music Man” and start acting and singing like he wants to be The Next American Idol.

  5. RTW says:

    – I can’t blame Symone for collapsing just as Randy spoke. I mean, the stupidity he utters from his mouth is enough to overwhelm anyone (I violently smack my forehead every time Randy speaks). But I really, really hope she is okay because I LOVED her.
    – Reed Grimm (and his air bass and “I’m in my own world” scatting) is a joke. I am reminded of Casey Abram’s talent with an actual jazz background involving a real stand up bass and trained scatting. I can only see Reed performing at the center of a chanting circle at Occupy Wall Street.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      And then Casey turned into a train wreck as well, despite his training. Which makes me a bit gun-shy of Reed Grimm. If he’s stop hamming it up and just sing a song I might actually like him.

      • RTW says:

        Couldn’t agree more about Casey…he let me down, but I’ll definitely buy his album. I actually liked his recordings…I like the gravel in his voice plus there were no grunts, haha! I can have a change of heart about Reed, but he needs to change his approach ’cause the goofball thing isn’t working for me.

    • Lunakit says:

      RTW! Nice OWS reference!
      Let’s just hope that Reed does not Occupy Idol for long…

    • My Alter Ego says:

      “Trained scatting”? Sounds like an oxymoron to me.
      I realize what you mean, but the whole purpose of “scatting” is (vocal) improvisation, and I’m not convinced that such a thing can be trained. (On the other hand, the underlying musicianship skills can be learned.)

  6. Saracen Riggins says:

    Aww, I love Heejun!! His voice makes me melt and his personality gives me the warm fuzzies. I truly hope he turns out to be more than a Michael Bolton impersonator (though I can clearly see that as a fair assesment at this point).
    Johnny is definitely becoming a bit too cocky for my taste.

  7. Spelling says:

    Gravelly has 2 L’s. Gravel+ly=rough. Grave+ly=seriously.

  8. Heejun Fan says:

    Disappointed that Heejun chose the same song, although he sounded pretty good. Hope he has more tricks in his bag and finds a way to “overcome the beauty.”

  9. Michele says:

    As usual your analysis was pretty spot on and made me laugh. Someone seriously needs to give Travis Orlando some life coaching. SOMETHING. He could have made it to the next round based on how he sang, but he was never going all the way. Someone needs to give him some real life advice and get him some training for living.

  10. Holly says:

    Actually, the best version of “If I’m Not In Love” was done by Melinda Doolittle on her fantastic post-Idol album. Slezak, you of all people should know better!

  11. misssandybee says:

    Slezak… not to nitpick, but the song Travis sang was called “All I do”, not “My one desire”. Just FYI.

  12. Sg.Grant says:

    Every one of your Pretenders will make it to the live shows.
    Thankfully David Leathers won’t. He is annoying.

  13. Louie says:

    Even though they seem to come from the same school of cheesy overdone singing, I happen to really like Reed Grimm and really dislike Creighton Fraker (ugh, even his name annoys me) and his screechy yowling.

  14. Del says:

    I always have problems remembering who I loved during auditions, and since I don’t write it down, I am sooooo glad that Mr Slezak and I usually share the same musical opinions. I can just check his recaps for news of my favorites, which usually are his as well.
    I was sitting through the show last night wondering about some of the people that I saw during the audition rounds. I think this is the most frustrating of times for me….wondering about people we saw, wondering who all these people are that we *weren’t* allowed to see….sigh. Thanks, Mr S, for keeping up with the singer scorecard so I don’t have to!

  15. karenobc says:

    Did anyone else notice ALEX WONG in the auditorium/audience? Back when he was on SYTYCD they showed a little of him singing at his piano, but dude was not that good then.

  16. Lucia says:

    Did anyone else notice Alex Wong AT ALL?!?!?!?!??! There were plenty of close-ups of him sitting on the first row of the theater at least during the first half of the show. Oh, Michael… I’m disappointed on you… you always notice this stuff!

  17. Saulo says:

    Loved your “transcription”. Especially Randy accusing poor Haley. Being the most talented singer up against the country childreen is terrible.

  18. marie says:

    Most sincere kudos to Slezak for the fantasy transcript! Absolutely hilarious.

  19. Vetle says:

    Kristine Osorio cut? AW HEEEELL TO THE NO.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I feel the same way – will have to look at the DVR recording again. I was cooking dinner during the program and not always looking at the TV.

  20. Crista says:

    I’m telling you, keep your eyes on Jen Hirsh, Elise Testone, and Erika Van Pelt. Those 3 girls are amazing and we have only scratched the surface with them so far.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I like Jen Hirsh, Elise Testone, and Lauren Gray. Not so crazy about Erika at this point but I didn’t much care for Haley last year until she sang “Blue”, so there’s plenty of time for me to change my mind.
      I also like Jessica (the girl whose boyfriend had the stroke) and the poor girl that fell off the stage.

    • IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

      Yes! More of them! And also, Baylie and Hallie.

  21. Bradley says:

    I love heejun!! who cares if he sang the same song, if memory serves, scotty sang the same song and Im pretty sure he won sooo…………

  22. Isabelle says:

    Love the lines of what happens next, I was LOLing with the immédiatement!part. I could so picture that.

  23. Jane says:

    Waiting for tonight to see Colton sing. He definitely has the cougar vote this year.

  24. nodak says:

    I loved the little judges commentary concerning Symone Black”s fall from the stage that you wrote ,especially the Steven Tyler rhyme. Between his clothes and his “poetry,” he is like a nasty Mother Goose.

  25. Yo says:

    Someone needs to teach the judges a little CPR so they don’t look like such dufi in emergencies. I mean, daytime television is ridiculing them, not to mention the author (who does it so much better). Incidents like that remind us that the judging panel is, indeed, not human. Lest we forget.
    I wandered over from Person to Person last night, but didn’t stick around. The questions on PTP were banal, but there were great decorating tips. If this were 1946, I would have jettisoned PTP for the dramatic stage fall, but in 2012 only a murder will prompt attention.
    No, Nigel, don’t even consider it.

  26. amrita says:

    Erika Van Pelt! Yes, thank you for noticing her. At least I already repeat her performance so many times. Goosy as JLO said.
    Jessica Phillips comes close.

  27. Seven Types of Ambiguity says:

    Not watching this season, but enjoy your recaps. Having seen the spoiler sites, it’s interesting to see who you think is doing well, and who actually made the cut.

    • IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

      I read the spoilers, too, and I agree, it will be interesting how he will react when the announcement is made. That’s all I’ll say; I don’t want to ruin everything.

  28. Bard says:

    So glad I skipped the first round this year. The sappy backstories are just too much to take. I can now see more than five people sing each hour!

  29. Sherry says:

    What happened to Ashley Robles (San Diego)? I thought she was the obvious standout in every way for winning this year’s competition, but did not see her last night???

  30. darcy's evil twin says:

    Mr. Slezak – hilarious commentary on the fall. However, I’m going to reserve judgement on the judges’ actions as well as the edit Johnny Keyser is getting. After watching Lauren Alaina’s interview last year with you and discovering she was a delightful young woman and nothing like the edit she got on the program I swore I wouldn’t get sucked into that trap again.
    By and large I agree with most of your comments. David Leathers reminds me of “Webster” and needs to stop with the “ladies man” thing already.
    Adam Brock sang the most irritating version of “Walking in Memphis” I have ever heard – and I love that song.
    Creighton Fraker has a very nasal sound and needs to give country music a shot. I found his tone a bit irritating.

  31. db says:

    Dull as dirt last night. Too much like the city tryouts.

  32. jb says:

    Wondering if Emily from The Glee Project advanced??? And the Dixon siblings??? Haven’t seen any of her and she sings pretty well, I think. To contestants: singing TOO MANY FREAKIN RUNS (talking to you Johnny K and Marcellus) is annoying. It is supposed to add a touch to the song not dominate the melody. I can’t stand that.

  33. TheBeach says:

    The Super Bowl is now history. Welcome to the Melisma Bowl….ugh !

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Even with my high school grammar teacher that gave weekly vocabulary quizzes on difficult words and all my high-falutin’ education I never heard the word “melisma” until I started watching Idol.
      And you get a “Made Me Laugh”. :-)

  34. TeeHee says:

    Would’ve loved to see Heejun do a different song, but at least it wasn’t “baby lock ’em doors.”
    Reed Grimm and Johnny Keyser can get off my TV now. Keyser needs to take the cockiness down a notch and Grimm needs to take a bath.

  35. Spider3tattoo says:

    I have to say I’m a tad outraged that they would use that young lady’s fainting and fall off the stage as a cliffhanger to bring viewers to the Thursday show. That’s sleezy. She’s 16 and could have been badly hurt hitting her head like that. Yuck, do better AI. I do agree with your accounting of the night though.

    • Brigette says:

      Agreed. Fainting in front of the judges would be embarrassing enough (especially at 16) but to have it exploited like that, using as a cliff hanger… not classy, Uncle Nigel.

      • My Alter Ego says:

        Hmmm — you have expectations that Nigel is classy?
        I’m pretty new to this game (particularly the Nigel aspect) but I harbor no such illusions. Do I think Nigel is smart in a very slick way? Yes. Classy? (Choke — ahem.) Ah, well no.

  36. Annie says:

    Phillip Phillips, Reed Grimm, Creighton Fraker, Adam Brock, and Heejun Han should be put under contenders. I don’t understand the Hallie Day, Erika Van Pelt, and especially Baylie Brown hype going on.

    • Eli says:

      Really? Phillip Phillips and Reed Grimm? After last night? They were both hideous and clearly got by as judge favorites from auditions. Adam is also boring. Heejun is screwing himself over with his pessimistic attitude, as people will probably vote for him initially because he is a weirdo, but I wouldn’t call him a contender, at least not just yet.
      I agree that I don’t get the Hallie Day / Baylie Brown hype. They’re both boring- I found Baylie interesting in Season 6, but now she just blends in.
      I do have a soft spot for Erika, but that might just be personal preference. She comes across as potential fodder for the live shows, but I love her spunk, her humble backstory, and, of course, her voice.

  37. Phoebi says:

    They should have montaged Symone’s bit with Shannon’s performance of Fallin’

  38. Petunia says:

    West Coast- Don’t bother watching tonight’s show. No one actually sings.
    Waste. Of. Time.

  39. pandora__box says:

    nice to see you again, michael. idol would not be same without you. here we go again……

  40. Angela says:

    Yeah. Ramiro should’ve stayed. I liked him. Sad to see him go.
    Kristine Osorio, who used her divorce attorney money to fly to her audition.
    Wonder if she’s regretting that now?

  41. Jared says:

    Michael, you rock.
    Btw, “If I’m Not In Love” was originally done by Kathy Troccoli in 1994, and it was a decent sized hit for her. Although, Jody Watley’s version is excellent as well, both in AC and Dance Remixed form!

  42. Maddi says:

    OMG im gunna die, that totally put me off being an actress poor girl…. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx hope shes ok