'American Idol': Hollywood Week Begins

American Idol - Publicity Still - H 2020

Hollywood Week kicked off on season 18 of American Idol on Monday night. Those 167 artists who were lucky enough to receive golden tickets during the auditions period all descended upon Los Angeles, where they will be put through the wringer with several different challenges meant to thin the herd. Judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan were on hand to make some tough calls. The first day of the three-part Hollywood Week was considered “genre week.” Instead of the usual “lines of 10,” singers had to specifically pick songs that they consider to be within their personal genre and were pitted against singers within their genre.

Of the singer-songwriter crowd, which contains a lot of the top talent of the season so far, Julia Gargano and Arthur Gunn. Gargano sang an original song, which was impressive, and Gunn sang “Hard to Handle.” Marna Michele, who is a wheelchair user and sang “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” however, did not advance.

The very densely populated pop category included a lot of favorites from the auditions, including Genavieve Linkowski, former The Voice contestant Rob Taylor and Louis Knight, who all advanced. Katy Perry compared Knight, who sang a very original take of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” to Harry Styles. Demi Rae Moreno and Geena Fontanella also advanced in the pop group.

More pop singers, including Kay Genyse, Shannon Gibbons and Lauren Spencer-Smith sang for the judges, but Genyse had an off performance and did not advance while the others did. Bilaal Avaz, who had not previously been shown on the show, also advanced with his performance of “Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato.

The R&B crew was shown next. Teen singer Cyniah Elise advanced with her performance of “All I Ask” by Adele. Makayla Phillips took a huge risk with the complex song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” but it paid off and she advanced alongside subway singer Just Sam.

Back in the singer-songwriter group, teen singer Sofia Schuster, who hasn’t previously been shown on the show, advanced alongside Adam Curry and Dillon James. Despite intense nerves, Francisco Martin and Jonny West delivered and made it to the next round. West, whose girlfriend is former Idol contestant Margie Mays, stood out in particular with his performance of “Someone You Love.” Mays is also competing in this season for a second chance.

Mays was in the pop genre, which also included fellow return contestant Nick Merico. Both advanced alongside Kimmy Gabriela, who followed her fantastic audition with another standout performance, this time singing “Say Something.”

As for country artists, Lauren Mascitti, Hannah Prestridge and Grace Leer all advanced. Prestridge sang a Miranda Lambert song and put a lot of emotion behind the lyrics, and Mascitti’s experience showed in her performance.

The soul singers closed out the night, including Amber Fiedler, whose powerful performance of Andra Day’s “Rise Up” stood out. She auditioned earlier in the season while pregnant and has since given birth and had an open adoption for the baby. She advanced alongside Sophia Wackerman, who put her own twists on “Let It Be,” and Jovin Webb, who proved to be a good entertainer and vocalist. Garbage Man Doug Kiker, who had some pitch issues perhaps due to nerves, did not advance. 

Hollywood Week continues next week on ABC, when contestants will have to sing duets.