Open Wide: It’s Time For Hollywood Week

noah | February 4, 2009 9:30 am

Last night’s episode of American Idol was the first installment of Hollywood Week’s semifinalist winnowing process, and boy did it seem like not a lot had changed at all since we were last in the cozy confines of Southern California. Barry Manilow as a mentor who basically gave an inspirational speech! There was a Ford commercial by a bunch of unnamed hopefuls who haven’t even made it through to the second part of Hollywood Week yet! Well, I guess Fox needs to squeeze as much money out of its sponsors as it can in these rough times.

AND WE’RE OFF: The singing part of the evening started off with Lil Rounds, who took a risk by singing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”; what could have been a kinda bad move was hailed by Kara as “bold” and “brave.” (No doubt she’s seen this show before.) Her audition was followed up by Dennis Brigham’s, which came along with some slightly over-the-top facial expressions—and a singing exit capped by him saying “y’all suck as judges” and an extended rant on the price of Simon’s clothing.

THE DIMINISHING OF SIMON’S INFLUENCE, THE RISE OF THE INTERNET: Von “Famous On The Internet” Smith’s audition was more of him opening his mouth like King Hippo (see above) and sing-yelling, and his performance was rightly trounced by Simon, who broke out the old “nonsense” epithet and called him annoying. But he made it through to the next round! I know everyone wants to make it big on Digg, but come on. On the bright side, I now have a least-favorite contestant who isn’t Bikini Girl.

IT’S ALL ABOUT SONG CHOICE: The weird thing about the aforementioned Ford ad: It started off with Manilow Michael Bublé’s version of “Feelin’ Good,” the song that has been a minefield for many a past Idol hopeful. (2007, you seem so long ago now.) Perhaps this was supposed to be a lesson in what separates the real singers from the pretenders, but given that it was then cut off in favor of Barbadian pop sensation Rihanna (who, much as I love some of her songs, is more “personality” than “singer”), maybe it was just a case of a new producer being in charge of the edit.

MY FAVORITE CONTESTANTS: There are still a lot of people shuffling on and off the stage at the Kodak Theater, but a few personalities and voices are starting to stick out (video links via MJ): The raspy-voiced Jackie Tohn, who seems like a less unhinged (and better-coiffed) Amanda Overmyer; Stephen Fowler, who has a big, sweet soul voice; and the aforementioned Lil Rounds, even though she went the Whitney route. (Just don’t do it again!)

REVEALING DIOGUARDISM OF THE NIGHT: “You had me for a moment thinking maybe I was wrong, but actually, I think I was right,” Kara said to Bikini Girl. Who once again split the judges’ panel and made it through to see another day, even though her voice isn’t that great and her midriff was covered. (Yay, America!)

So, all in all, 104 contestants made it through to tonight’s round, the drama-filled group sing. There’s gonna be crying! But you probably figured that.

American Idol [Official site] [Von Smith pic via Rickey]