It was a transitional night on Feb. 5 for American Idol as season 13 moved past the audition process and looked toward the eventual live shows... a.k.a., it's mother flippin' Hollywood Week.
Because the new season came with shiny new judges and even more shiny new producers, the evening's show took on a slightly new format - 212 contestants made it to Hollywood, but many of them wouldn't even see a stage. Yes, they got off the plane at LAX with a dream and a cardigan, but 52 singers whom the judges were on the fence would have to sing right there, on the spot, in an airplane carrier.
This was the "big twist" Idol teased in all its promos, but the end result was just about 28 minutes of people who have a very little chance of winning singing "for their lives" (a phrase Idol REALLY loves).
In a hyper melodramatic turn, the 52 contestants were split in two groups, one of 20 and one of 32 and told to get on buses to a mysterious location. It didn't take much time to figure out the bus with solid singers such as Neco Starr and Eric Wood was the one with the winners, and 32 golden ticket holders were returned to sender like a badly posted package.
Was it worth it, FOX? Was the extra half hour of melodrama worth the intense teases? Eh... We here at Music Times aren't so sure.
After 30 minutes of that ish, this transitional episode moved to the line solo a cappella/guitar accompanied performances, where the good singers truly shined and the not-so-good singers finally got off our televisions.
Selena Moreno, one half of the mediocre twins who tried out in San Francisco was the most notable flop of the hour, with a dramatic commercial break splitting up her warbling, all over the place performance that came with the best part of this show... forgotten words! Of course, she didn't move on. She was never going to.
She was the cut with the most screen time, so it's time to stop focusing on the bad of this episode and looking toward the good. Let's check out the five best solo performances from Hollywood Week round one.
5. Kenzie Hall - It's always fun when a singer takes a popular song not from a traditionally sung genre and puts his or her own jazzy spin on it, something Kezie Hall did wonderfully with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Can't Hold Us." She put a little jazzy spin on the track's chorus and sang the rapped chorus at hyper speed, creating a truly endearing Idol performance.
4. Majesty Rose York - There's little not to love about this soft singing 21-year-old teacher. After dazzling with her audition song (Coldplay's "Violet Hill"), she did it again with Feist's "1234." The song choice was dead-on, and she was once again effortless and airy and wonderful.
3. Casey Thrasher - The Idol producers love Casey Thrasher, giving the 22-year-old father a full profile during his audition episode last week. This week, he proved he continues to be a strong country presence with a stunning (yet shortly aired) cover of George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today." It was enough to get Keith Urban singing along and this Idol viewer sobbing (not really, but close).
2. Dexter Roberts - First of all, Dexter Roberts chose to sing The Civil Wars' "Barton Hollow," which is a great song choice. Second of all, he freakin' killed it, with an unbridled amount of power and super intense passion. It may be a good season for country on Idol, who hasn't boasted a winner in the genre since Scotty McCreery in 2011.
1. Savion Wright - Above all those solid performances, there was Savion Wright. His original song, about his brother who passed away just two weeks ago, was emotionally wrenching and performed with the love and passion of a true entertainer. Even if it weren't for the heartbreaking backstory, this song would've easily been the shining star of the night.
After the solo performances, it was time for groups. Seriously. So many things in this episode.
It was a lot of the drama one could expect from forming groups, mismatched harmonies, drama from the underages' mamas, illness, song choice. BLAH! Not much to report on here, but let's look forward to tomorrow night, eh? On Thursday (Feb. 6), Idol will return with the group performances and even more cuts!