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'American Idol' Recap: Who Gets To Go To Hollywood Part 1

February 6th, 2014 10:40am EST

Contestants compete in the all-new Last night this brand new 'Idol' started to resemble its old self.
That isn't to say the show was completely without change. Of course the producers can't help but throw a few new little oddities into the mix just to show they're trying.
The first change was just a complete waste of time. Before the Hollywood Week festivities could really begin, the judges forced the contestants to sing in a giant airplane hangar while they decided if a few were worthy or if they just made a mistake.
This was ridiculous for a couple of reasons. First, the idea that the judges actually remember a single contestant's audition is outrageous: I'm sure they forget all of them immediately after they exit the room. Secondly, it really added no drama whatsoever. Hollywood Week is tense enough as the contestants step out of a line and sing for an instant decision. Adding a preliminary round of that made very little sense for anything other than filling some time at the beginning of the program.
Though it did provide the opportunity to watch the contestants ride on busses to see if they were going to Hollywood or LAX. Really, these are the two worst places you could possibly take a bus: You're either ending up seated with bloated grumpy travelers or people about to go urinate on the Walk of Fame. The idea that anybody would willingly get on a bus that could result in either is troubling at best.
Of course, the bus taking the kids to LAX was the cruelest of all as the 20 or so non-descript contestants that nobody recognized or remembered had to hop on a plane back to reality. So long, you non-memorable kiddos, we hardly knew ye. Really.
The second change has been a lame development over the last few years: the continuing destruction of Hollywood Week. Not the singing, not the group performances, none of that. The real Hollywood Week - the behind-the-scenes craziness of watching a bunch of wannabe singers attempt to collaborate.
Last night, the judges reduced this further to about 20 minutes at the end of the show. Such a small fraction of the episode despite this clearly being the best part of the show all year outside of the competition.
Why would anybody ever want to get rid of a segment of the show that features such amazing highlights as a girl with a weird Bieber/Macklemore/Mohawk hairdo handing her group mates several pages of handwritten notes saying she doesn't feel well enough to sing or even talk, apparently?
That's not it. The shred of Hollywood Week also featured some pink-haired terror named Jessica who formed a group with a couple of boys that went so poorly (despite no real fighting or anything like that) that one of the kids completely quit the show. Not just the group, but the entire show! Leaving the other two to dissolve the group. This found Jessica going to another group and fighting with its stage mom.

All that, plus somebody absolutely screaming at her group about how they're all holding her down, the inevitable searches of people nobody wants to have in their group (flashback to gym class), and the befuddled aggravation of the show's musical director. This is what Hollywood Week should be!
That's not the way the producers see it anymore, it seems, as the majority of the show was spent on the individual performance portion of Hollywood Week as the judges decided the fate of a few hopefuls who had the treacherous task of singing in front of a line of their peers.
This produced very few memorable moments. It's not good when the standout of the segment is a guy doing a pretty solid rendition of "If I Were a Boy" and the judges not being able to wrap their heads around a male singing this song. It's always been a ridiculous notion that people can't sing cross-gender tunes. They're just words. They're covering the songs. Should we start yelling at every preschooler who sings 'I've Been Working on the Railroad' in a class sing-a-long because none of them have actually laid tracks and ties? Of course not! That's why it's so absurd to condemn a kid for singing a song that's written from a girl's perspective. Have some imagination.
Beyond that, there was only one real standout amongst the solo performers who led off the solo portion of Hollywood Week: Kenzie Hall. She played an acoustic version of "Can't Hold Us" on the guitar, complete with speedy sing rapping that was completely outside the norm of anything ever shown on this show. She's just a tiny little ball of talent that could do some great things going forward. It's a performance that commands an immediate rewind on the DVR - cool, game-changing stuff.
She was about it for the memorable solo performers. The rest was a grab bag of belters, guitar players and forgettably good singers. This definitely wasn't a parade of performers worth consuming more than half the show with, when we had so many potential freak outs from the sleep deprived hallway kids preparing for their group performances.
No, we didn't get much of that - just a parade of mediocrity interspersed with random quips from the judges. Their repeatedly telling the contestants that they have to bring it, that they can't phone it in, that this is a huge opportunity - it's good the judges are there to tell the contestants this because otherwise they might not realize they're on 'American Idol'.
Even Harry was neutered in this parade of clich├ęs: No jokes, no charm, no insightful content. He did use the word "intonation" at one point to solid effect, but beyond that, he may as well have been a Keith Clone on last night's episode and nobody wants that.
What we really want is the drama, the mess and the train wrecks of Hollywood week.
But we did, at least, get a glimpse of Keri Lynn Roche. The Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale is strong in this one. Enough to almost make up for another stolen Hollywood Week.
Almost.

Related: American Idol, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, FOX, Reality (Talent)

Photo Credits: FOX

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