'American Idol': Hollywood Week Begins

American Idol Still Cameron Theodos - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of ABC

The American Idol revival on ABC finally made it to Hollywood Week on Monday night. The singers lucky enough to secure golden tickets from judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie were put to the test at this next stage of the competition. Singers performed in solo and group rounds, the judges making significant cuts along the way. Only 24 will make it out of Hollywood Week. “If you have an A game, now is the time to bring it,” Richie said.

First up were the “line of 10” solo performances. Ten singers each gave quick performances and the judges picked a select few to advance. Not all contestants had their performances aired.

Country singer and small town girl Layla Spring was in the first group of solo singers. She played guitar and sang the heartbreaker “Last Kiss,” which was famously covered by Pearl Jam. Her voice was a little too affected while singing so that it was almost hard to make out the lyrics, but she had a lot of confidence. Alyssa Raghu was in the same group, singing “The Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler. And goat farmer Trevor McBane gave a gritty performance, showcasing that raw voice that piqued the judges’ interests in the first place. Caleb Lee Hutchinson closed out the group by playing guitar and sang “Don’t Close Your Eyes” by Keith Whitley. McBane, Spring, Hutchinson and Raghu all advanced.

Alpaca lover and farm boy Noah Davis was in the next group, singing “Mamma Knows Best” by Jessie J. He knocked it out of the park with a soulful vocal. Twins Milo and Julian Sposato were also in the group, singing separately this time. They stood on their own, both showing off their delicate tones, although Milo had the technically tighter performance. Noah and Milo made it through, and Julian was eliminated, splitting up the twins.

Kennedee Rittenhouse, Joshua Ward and Kristyn Harris were shown in a montage of eliminations.

In the next group, Catie Turner sang an indie version of “Come Together” by The Beatles with lots of runs and ad libs, accompanying herself on the guitar. Zach D’Onofrio, whose singing voice is strikingly different from his speaking voice, sang the '50s torch song “Cry Me a River." Turner made it through to the next round, but D’Onofrio was cut.

Maddie Poppie sang a delicate cover of “Dreams” by Brandi Carlile, playing guitar and showcasing her indie-pop sound. Former rodeo worker Cade Foehner gave a sultry alt-rock performance next, playing electric guitar. Both made it through to the group round.

College student Jonny Brenns, who secretly auditioned for the show without telling his parents, had his mom in the audience this time. He played piano and sang “Somebody Else” by The 1975, delivering an emotional performance ending on an impressive run. He advanced to the next round.

In the next line of 10, out artist Jurnee sang “You Don’t Do It for Me Anymore” by Demi Lovato with a lot of big, dramatic runs that made her stand out. Dennis Lorenzo played guitar and sang “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. They made it to the group round.

Trevor Holmes, whom Perry had a crush on in the auditions, was up next. He sang “Riptide” by Vance Joy, and it was a solid indie-pop performance, but he was a little too breathy. Still, the judges sent him through to the next round.

David Francisco, who is still recovering from being paralyzed in a car accident, sang in the next lineup. He sang “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, but it wasn’t good enough to keep him in the competition and he was cut. Daniel Ethridge, Griffin Tucker and Cameron Theodos were also eliminated.

Effie Passero, Ada Vox, Maddie Zahm, Marcio Donaldson, Laine Hardy, Mara Justine and Garrett Jacobs made it through to the group round.

The second hour of Monday night’s Hollywood Week premiere covered the notorious group round, when singers are forced to work together to put on a great group performance but still have to stand out to really make an impression on the judges. “It’s survival of the fittest,” Perry said.

The first group of the day tried to set the bar high with their performance of “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit. “It’s hard to get cohesiveness in a night,” one singer said. The group included Michael J. Woodard, Thaddeus Johnson, Shannon O’Hara and Kourtney Smith, and they ended up killing it, setting a very high bar indeed for groups to follow. “The ending was super original, and I applaud you for it,” Perry said. O’Hara, Woodard, Smith and Johnson all advanced. A fifth member who was not featured in the episode was eliminated.

The next group included Marcio Donaldson, Maddie Zahm, Cesley Parrish and Samuel James and was really struggling in rehearsals, forgetting their lyrics and succumbing to nerves. “It’s a fiasco right now,” Donaldson said. After a speech from Richie about the struggles of the industry, they sang “Stayin’ Alive.” Zahm and James both forgot their lyrics but covered it very well. “You will have so many nights like right now,” Richie said, impressed by their abilities to improvise. Parrish, Zahm and Donaldson advanced, and James was eliminated.

Catie Turner, Kyah Robinson, Victoria McQueen and Alyssa Raghu were in the next group, singing  “La La La” by Naughty Boy. While the choreography wasn’t great, the vocals were. They blended well and delivered a standout arrangement. The whole group except for Robinson advanced, which was a surprising elimination.

Johnny White, Rissa Watson, Samuel Swanson all succumbed to exhaustion and were eliminated during the group round.

Milo Sposato’s mom caused some trouble for his group during rehearsals, nitpicking and throwing everyone off. Sposato tried to convince his group to make a last-minute change to the arrangement and then made the call for himself, opting to sing his solo a capella. The group, which also included Aname Rose, Deonte Baker, William Casanova and Dennis Lorenzo, sang “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber. “I think you guys are better separately than you are together,” Perry said. The whole group made it through to the next round.

A montage also highlighted Ada Vox, Kay Kay, Gabby Barrett, Christina Jones, Jurnee and Dominique in their group performances.

The next group included Laine Hardy, who wasn’t on the same page as his team when it came to choreography or song choice. He kept forgetting the words to “Love Yourself” and looked like he might bomb in the group performance. The group included Kaitlann Runnels, Mia Desaria and Juliana Madrid, who all did a great job, but Hardy indeed fell apart, forgetting his words and brining low energy to the performance. Hardy somehow advanced alongside Runnels.

The last group of the night included Crystal Alicea, who was feeling the pressure during rehearsals, worried about her lack of experience. But her group, which included Britney Holmes, Lee Vasi and Gabbii Jones, was there for her. They sang “Me and My Broken Heart,” and the arrangement was simple but effective. Alicea pulled it together and was on par with the rest of the singers. “You guys know what you’re doing, but we have room for three more people,” Perry said. She put them in a terrible position by asking for one singer to volunteer to not advance to the next round, and Alicea stepped up. But once she started crying, Perry jumped in to say they were all going through. “Round of applause for her heart,” Perry said about Alicea.

Hollywood Week continues next week on American Idol. What did you think of these first couple of rounds?