‘American Idol’: Lazaro Arbos, Micah Johnson & Papa Peachez Survive Hollywood Day One

Welcome to Hollywood, audience, contestants, judges and Ryan Seacrest! Everyone from the whistle-stop tour is cashing in their golden tickets. This is where things really get heartbreaking because people have packed their bags for a trip, knowing full well they may be going home the very next day. That which was cute in small-town America crumbles under the heat of the Hollywood spotlight. (I should know. Look at the sad, bitter raisin of a human it has made of me.) Ryan tells us this episode will feature all the male contestants. Next week, the ladies will be run through the same paces.

Mariah Carey has poured herself into a turquoise dress. Keith Urban makes a Hunger Games joke and I’m sad we never got to see it in theaters together. Nicki Minaj is working a relatively simple outfit, in a curve-hugging, bright yellow sweater dress. Randy Jackson is … present.

The guys come out in a group of ten to sing a cappella. They will know immediately if they are staying or being eliminated, sudden death-style. The only thing missing is a trap door.

The first group features Micah Johnson, who suffers from nerve damage that caused a speech impediment. He sings Elton John‘s “Bennie and the Jets” and makes it through the first round, along with several other familiar faces from the local auditions. Hmm, things are a bit too cheerful. It’s the eery calm in the moments before a vicious attack in a horror movie.

Karl Skinner, the energetic, guitar-toting redhead sings The Temptations‘ “Ain’t to Proud to Beg,” and I like to think it’s the Rick Astley version. A lot of guys with crazy hair follow him. Sadly, he goes home, but he leaves with dignity. More nos follow.

Cortez Shaw deigns to sing the incredibly ambitious “I Will Always Love You,” and despite the admonishment he receives afterwards from Nicki and Randy, Cortez continues on.

Also, Curtis Finch finishes his song with a squeal and gets a yes, and Frankie Ford makes it through as well.

You may remember Lazaro Arbos because he’s the contestant with the stutter who had the super emotional audition. I’m a little disappointed he’s not wearing a bow tie but it’s a small consolation that he’s wearing a vest. He sings the Robbie Williams song “Angels.” Nicki gives him a Care Bear stare with her hands and Keith gives Lazaro the good news that he’s made it through.

A bunch of guys none of us have seen before sweat and sing their way through auditions and continue their journey. Nicki straight-up fucks with a contestant, making him think he’s going home but fakes him out by saying he’s actually staying. HAHAHA! I’m starting to love her.

The big, husky-voiced Brian Rittenberry from Jasper, Georgia, sings a countrified Brian McKnight song but has to go home. Then there’s a montage of group night drama from the past. Mental breakdowns, tears, ambulances. Groups starts to form, but Ryan tells the audience to expect a special twist: for the first time, groups are being picked by American Idol rather than the contestants themselves.

These mandated groups are genius. Two country boys are thrown with drag queens and they dub themselves Country Queen. I’m excited to see how they do. Hugs and handshakes abound. These guys all have to agree on a song, choreograph and practice a routine to perform. Poor Lazaro is having an issue communicating.

Nice harmonizing abounds. People are freaking out/getting along famously. In some groups, it appears boy bands are being born. Papa Peachez and his group are experiencing discord. It’s starting to look like an airport during a snowstorm with people sleeping on the floor and generally looking miserable.

Country Queen struggles to keep it together, but the drag queens are being very patient while everyone just clearly needs some sleep. Trevor is grumpy and rumbles off to slumber like an old bear after what appears to be a particularly fruitless rehearsal sesh.

Rehearsals are over and the guys have to perform. They yank themselves out of bed and head down to group day to perform with the accompaniment of the American Idol band. Each contestant will be judged based on individual performances within the group. The first bunch performs Queen‘s “Can Anybody Find Me Somebody to Love.” I predict the guy with the glasses doesn’t make it, but everyone does makes it through. Nicki is again having fun toying with the contestants, which I love.

Normal Hills stars a Johnny “Do You Have a Boyfriend” Keyser, who struggles through The Jackson 5‘s “I’ll Be There,”  as he mumbles the lyrics, but Kareem comes out flat and is the only one who gets the ax. They all agree to remain pen pals, I’m assuming.

Charlie Askew’s social skills are put to the test with Curtis Fincher, who is Not Here To Make Friends. He’s ready to play dirty, I suspect, but that damn church singing! Love it! Little Freddie Mercury kills it too, as well as his sweet buddy in the orange t-shirt. They all make it to the next round.

The Four Tones deliver a rousing performance, complete with a guy wearing gloves. Cortez redeems himself this time and they all make it through.

But that weird long-haired group of guys fail miserably, followed by another crew singing a song that is unintelligible and only two survive the cut. Keith’s getting sassy, and mama like.

The Turbinator forgets the words but powers through. I’m loving these subtitles that reveal just how inventive these singers are having to be as they forget the lyrics. Randy gets a clap from me for, “Hang up the damn phones!” But Keith calling himself “Keith Turban” WINS. After intense deliberation, they all advance. The Turbinator clearly doesn’t believe it, but it’s true, and Nicki declares them her favorite group.

Last Minute takes on One Direction, dedicating the song to Mariah and Nicki. The music starts and they completely implode from the first second. Nicki diplomatically says, “You all were equally bad, actually.” They all equally go home.

The next group boldly decides to sing without the accompanying band. Their risk pays off for all but one member.

Burnell admits to not being 100% confident with the lyrics. Despite this, he and his bearded group member continue on.

Lazaro’s gang selected a Beach Boys song and, clearly, he struggles to remember the lyrics. The group looks like it’s basically comprised of actual American beach boys except for Cuban-born Lazaro. But ironically, it’s Scott who forgets his words. Yay Lazaro for pulling it off despite not really knowing the song!

Excuses! Excuses! Judges deliberate. Lazaro is clearly going through, per the dramatic editing, and he does not disappoint with his over-the-top reaction. I hope he does this every show. Hell, I hope he does this every time he gets an email. On his way out, he gets a backhanded congratulations from his Bitter Betsy former group member. Ha!

Country Queen looks like it has the potential for awesomeness. Get over yourself, Trevor. Welcome to Hollywood and the entertainment industry. JDA is sparkling from head to toe, in his shiny silver jeans. Trevor forgets the words and gives up part way through. This is the biggest train wreck. Yet the gays continue through and I am more than pleased. Love them.

DKSK look like a legit boy band. They are precious and I hope they sound like The Jackson 5. They sound good and I’m happy; I love David Leathers with his braces and first moustache ever. Mariah is taking all of them home. They are the youngest in the group, though, sadly, 16-year-old Kayden Stephenson didn’t deliver and is sent home. Mariah is quite understandably devastated in a way that I find genuinely endearing. Kayden leaves but seems determined to come back next year. Assuming this show exists next year, I hope he does come back.

Meanwhile, Frankie Ford is not jelling with his group, which includes Papa Peachez, so I have this feeling he’s going home. Also, he was crying in earlier promos about going home. Papa Peachez is going to be fun if he sticks around, that sass pants. Frankie is cracking under the pressure, though, and breaks down literally minutes before the performance. Thankfully, his group manages to help him somewhat pull it together before they hit the stage.

They are the last group of the day and it’s kind of a mess. Adam nails his part and Charlie takes it to the top. Someone please tell me a GIF of Mariah dancing to Charlie’s performance currently exists somewhere and I promise to watch it for hours.

After some deserved chiding from Nicki, the judges deliberate and Frankie and Papa Peachez get a big scare but at the end, Frankie is the only one who goes home.

Keith remains my hero and Mariah starting to cry is sweet. Frankie is inconsolable and plans to come back next year. DRAMA!

Tomorrow promises more guys and a new wig from Nicki!