It always feels like the "American Idol" audition rounds go on forever. But, miraculously, they're already over, and Thursday night's (February 10) show will give us our first glimpse of the dreaded Hollywood Week.
We've already had some serious ups and downs so far this season, with the joy of new judge Steven Tyler's unpredictable, wacky personality and winning charm, the seeming bumper crop of stellar talent in Austin and New Jersey, the washout in Los Angeles and a few 15-year-olds who seemed to suggest the lowering of the age limit was a good idea after all.
We won't know until Thursday night which singers were able to keep it together in Los Angeles, but there are a number of promising candidates who seem like they may sail through the next round.
The first night in New Jersey introduced us to the hard-luck Bronx tale of Travis Orlando and Staten Island doo-wop girl Brielle Von Hugel. On the next night in New Orleans, we got jazzy Jordan Dorsey, J.Lo fanatic Jovany Barreto and lovable social outcast Brett Loewenstern. That show also gave us one of our first promising youngsters, 15-year-old Lafayette native Jaycee Badeaux, who killed it with an Otis Redding tune.
Milwaukee served up its share of corkers as well, from 16-year-old country crooner Scotty McCreery to soul sister Naima Adedapo, bar mitzvah singer Jerome Bell and Thia Megia, another stellar 15-year-old. It also yielded one of the season's most emotional stories in Chris Medina, who was trying out in honor of his fiancée, who had been horribly hurt in a car accident.
Producers found what some said was a potential winner in Nashville in the guise of yet another young'un, Lauren Alaina, 15, where they also spotted talented exes Rob Bolin and Chelsee Oaks and country crooner Matt Dillard.
But things went a bit wobbly in Los Angeles last week, where the talent pool appeared to have been drained and the only potential top 40ers were brothers Mark and Aaron Gutierrez and MySpace auditioner Karen Rodriguez.
It all came to a dramatic conclusion in San Francisco on Wednesday night, where we met hard-luck 21-year-old dad James Durbin, who killed it with his Adam Lambert-esque wail, as well as comely Colombian expat Julie Zorrilla and car-crash survivor Stefano Langone. It was a fitting conclusion to an audition round that produced way more promising talent than we're used to — which is a good thing.
Now, we have no idea how anyone does in the Hollywood, but those pesky "Idol" spoiler sites have already posted the alleged top 40, which includes a number of the early favorites. Among the names that keep popping up as potential next rounders are: Loewenstern, Medina, Badeaux, Bell, Schulz, McCreery, Jackie Wilson, Seth Rogen lookalike Casey Abrams, Adedapo and Megia, as well as Alaina.
Who's going to make it and who will burn out? Will the pressure of Hollywood get to the younger contestants? Can the exes, couples and siblings move forward? We don't know yet, but we can't wait to find out.
Which contestant do you hope excels during Hollywood Week? Let us know in the comments!
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