'American Idol': "Hollywood Week" Heats Up with Solo Round

Only 51 artists remain after tonight's eliminations.
Courtesy of FOX
American Idol

The intensity of "Hollywood Week" continued on American Idol tonight, with the artists who survived the group round competing in the solo round. The remaining contestants performed in front of judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr., as well as a small audience of friends and family. The singers only had one night to prepare their performances, and they were limited to a set a list of songs. To ensure that there would be a good mix, only three people could sign up for each song. They also had the option to sing an original song.

The first artist up was Stephany Negrete from San Diego. She sang “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele, and the power behind her vocals was impressive, but it was her final run that made for the most memorable part of the performance.

Because the judges did not provide immediate feedback during this round, many of the contestants got in their own heads about how they did. Thomas Stringfellow said the nerves got to him, leading to a few mistakes in his singing. Avalon Young sang “One Last Time” by Ariana Grande and said after that she felt like she could have done better.

Olivia Rox opted to sing an original song, and Urban remarked to the other judges that she had “decent enough songwriting skill” for a 16-year-old. Despite losing his lucky cowboy hat, John Wayne Schulz from the Denver auditions remained confident in his performance of an Urban single.

Mackenzie Bourg also sang an original song, and the judges were very impressed with the song as well as his performance of it. It was an understated performance, but Bourg definitely showcased brilliant artistry. Plus, he looked very comfortable on stage.

Shelbie Z certainly wasn’t going to let nerves get to her. “I do believe I can be the next American Idol. I really do,” she said, heading into the solo round with a lot of confidence. She sang Heart's “Alone” and was followed by Kory Wheeler singing Coldplay's “Fix You.” The arrangement was a little bland, but his vocals were good. James VIII sang Chris Isaak's “Wicked Game” next, showing off his range and control.

Tristan McIntosh initially had a setback when she didn’t sign up in time for her top song choice: “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts. A fellow contestant, however, let McIntosh take her slot for the song when she realized how much it meant to her. McIntosh had one of the best performances of the night. She was followed by Sonika Vaid, who continued her streak of solid performances by singing “One Last Time,” which was the perfect fit for her.

Next, Lee Jean sang “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes, and he had really strong stage presence in addition to strong vocals. Sara Sturm, who has become close friends with Jean over the course of the competition, followed with a performance of “Somewhere Only We Know.”

Emily Brooke, who competed last season but didn’t make it through Hollywood Week, and Jenn Blosil both delivered performances that played to their strengths. They were followed by Malie Delgado, who had to push through laryngitis in her performance of “Stitches.” She managed to do well considering the state her voice was in. Mionne Destiny was also starting to lose her voice, but she also gave a valiant effort. Jessica Cabral, also suffering from sore vocal cords, also overcame the obstacle and brought a smoky tone to her performance that proved her ability to deliver even under rough circumstances.

New father Joshua Wicker sang Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years,” and Urban and Lopez were not too impressed, but Connick pushed back, saying that he sees something soulful in him. CJ Johnson, singing “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac, took the stage next, and he brought a lot of energy to his performance. Jeneve Rose Mitchell followed, sticking to her signature sound that first caught the judges’ ears. But Lopez pointed out that there wasn’t enough power behind her voice.

Things started shaky for Dalton Rapattoni when his guitar wasn’t turned on, but he didn’t let that little glitch derail him. He sang “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” which was an interesting song choice. Immediately after singing, Rapattoni said it was all a blur.

With the solo round complete, the judges then narrowed the pack down to the best of the best. The 75 contestants were divided into three rooms to await their fates. The first room — which included Shelbie Z, Jean, Cabral, Rapattoni, Jordan Sasser, McIntosh, Bourg and La’Porsha Renae — were put through to the next round. The second room — including Wicker, Schulz and mostly artists that haven’t really gotten screen time this season — were sent home. The third and final room, including Young, Brooke, Blosil, Manny Torres and Michelle Marie — also advanced.

Tomorrow night, the 51 remaining artists will perform in the showcase round before the top 24 are revealed. Were there any results tonight that surprised you? Sound off in the comments below.

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