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American Idol: Mediocre at Best

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The “Hollywood Week” round is usually when I hear contestants for the first time, but this season I am happy that I watched the auditions. I felt a whole lot more informed, and knew what I was looking for as American Idol basically highlighted people who were originally shown during the audition episodes.

I have to say that this “sudden death” round as Ryan Seacrest referred to it this week was really underwhelming. I am feeling discouraged, because I didn’t feel like any of the contestants lived up to their initial audition.

AMERICAN IDOL: Contestants at the Hollywood rounds of AMERICAN IDOL airing Thursday, Feb. 10 on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

Brett Loewenstern was fantastic during his audition, but for me there was something lacking in his performance of The Beatles’ “Let It Be.” It was good, but when you know he could be better and have more confidence, it just becomes kind of a letdown.

I was extremely surprised to learn about the elimination of Sarah Sellers. She was my personal favorite from the auditions, and I can’t believe that she’s already gone from the competition. And I really can’t stand that Idol didn’t show her “Hollywood Week” audition. If you’re going to eliminate someone who did fantastically during her initial audition, I want to know what went wrong with her follow-up audition.

This happened last season with Luke James. He had this great initial audition, and then we never heard from him again on the show. Not cool.

Moving on to contestants that I can’t believe survived the cut, two would be Chris Medina and James Durbin.

Hey Idol judges, Chris Medina isn’t that good of a singer. You can only let him ride out his sob story wave for so long. Just sayin’.

In my opinion, he wasn’t good enough to make it through to the next round. His rendition of Jason Mraz’s “You and I Both” was just not anywhere near as good as the original, nor was he up to par with most of the singers they showed. I hope the judges see the error of their ways before “Hollywood Week” is over.

During James Durbin’s initial audition, I thought he was excellent, but his performance during the first round of “Hollywood Week” was cringe-worthy. He went to hit a note in his upper register and sounded like he was screaming. I cannot believe the judges put him through.

The judges are definitely a lot nicer this season, but they need to not bring the contestant’s sob story into the equation. The contestants are supposed to be able to sing. If they can’t sing, they need to be sent home. End of story.

Jacee Badeaux did a lot better than I thought he was going to, although his song choice of Rascal Flatts’ “God Bless the Broken Road” was kind of predictable. I think this kid is so talented, but I worry about the stress and pressure from the show affecting him negatively.

The producer’s darling, Lauren Alaina, was good, although, singing the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” was pretty indulgent on her part. She’s so young, I would rather hear her sing something a little more age-appropriate. But, she’s trying to show that she can sing. Point taken, Lauren Alaina. You’re not going down without a fight. 

Jackie Wilson stuck to the Aretha Franklin song from her initial audition. In the small clip they showed of her, it seemed that she gave a bit of a lackluster performance.

The former lovebirds Chelsee Oaks and Rob Bolin were both pretty good. I really like Bolin’s voice. I am intrigued about what he’ll bring to the next round.

Overall, this was a good first episode from “Hollywood Week.” I do think that the judges need to be a little bit tougher. I know that Steven Tyler got annoyed at one point during the episode last night, but Jennifer Lopez needs to embrace her inner “Jenny From the Block” a little more, separate her emotions that are tied to the sob stories, and find some legit talent. Half the reason that there were double the contestants in Hollywood this year was that the judges couldn’t say no to someone who was so-so during their first audition. It’s time to start being a little tougher.

What did y’all think of the first round of “Hollywood Week”? Is anyone else shocked about Sarah Sellers’ elimination? And who was your favorite of the contestants shown?

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is a writer and editor from the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her long-running music blog, Wait...WHAT, at waitwhatmusic.net. Follow Kirsten Coachman on Twitter: @KirsCoachman
  • Butch

    Okay we’re all entitled to our opinions. I actually do think Chris Medina was easily good enough to make it through first week of Hollywood. Whereas I did not think Rob Bolin did.

    I agree with both you and Jon re: Durbin and Soibhan. But Durbin also reminds me of Josiah Lemming from a couple seasons ago in that he seems emotionally unstable and very likely unable to compete in a high pressure situation. I hope we don’t see Durbin past next week, because he needs to get his emotions under control.

    If there’s an obvious case of a backstory overshadowing questionable talent, it’s James Durbin (in my opinion).

  • Jon:

    Scott Dangerfield is another one of my early favorites. I am hoping they show him at some point during the “Hollywood Week” rounds.

    I had to go back and watch Hollie Cavanagh from this week, because I forgot she was shown. But, I definitely agree she was the most improved from her audition.

    I would almost give the title of “the next Katie Stevens” to Lauren Alaina, because I think she’s peaking too soon like Katie did last year.

    I also agree with your comparison of James Durbin to Siobhan Magnus from last season. Siobhan was one of my faves, albeit had a lot of issues during her run on the show vocally. I think Durbin is going to have to show some more versatility with his voice like Siobhan and Adam did, and not consistently try to push the larger notes.

    I am so happy both Victoria and Stormi are gone. And they did leave with class, and that speaks volumes of them.

  • Jon

    I have to agree about Chris Medina, his Hollywood audition was no better than Victoria Huggins’. Overall I’m disappointed about this seasons first round in Hollywood because there was no new talent showcased we hadn’t already seen. No memorable moments unlike last year (Andrew Garcia, Crystal Bowersox, Lilly Scott, Didi’s version of Kara’s song). With so many contestants this year, each performance had to be cut very short.

    Not many people seemed to remember Scott Dangerfield from 3 weeks ago, he had in my opinion the best audition but was no where to be seen in Hollywood.

    Probably the best audition Thursday was from Hollie Cavanagh, the most improved we’ve seen after the city auditions. At 16, she’s this years Katie Stevens.

    A lot of Adam Lambert comparisons are being made with James Durbin but he’s more comparable with Siobahn Magnus. Both not quite as good as Lambert, but there’s still a lot of time to change my mind.

    Props to Victoria Huggins and Stormi for leaving the competition with class.

  • Butch:

    I am not purposely being hard on Chris Medina because of his back story. He was so-so during his initial audition, and I don’t think his follow-up audition was up to par with the other contestants shown.

    I believe the judges put him through during this first round of HWeek because of his back story. And that’s not okay.

    With Chelsee Oaks and Rob Bolin, I think Idol keeps bringing up the fact that they dated is because teenage girls love drama. Idol is definitely embracing a younger demographic this year. I think when either Chelsee or Rob has a huge performance it will separate the two. That is my hope anyways. But, as long as they’re both doing well in the competition, it’s going to be brought up. But, I don’t think it’s their back story that got them through this round.

  • Butch

    Frankly I think you’re being way too hard on Chris Medina. I agree his audition was just okay, but I thought he sounded much better in Hollywood Week. It’s almost like you have a personal problem with his specific backstory. Yes, Steven Tyler asked how his wife was doing (Which I thought was very cool of him) and they recapped the story. But he sang well, and I thought much better than Rob Bolin for instance.

    Speaking of backstories, is it more acceptable that they keep bringing up his irrelevant former relationship with Chelsee Oaks? At least Chris Medina’s story stands purely as a human interest story and has something genuinely inspirational about it. The fact that Bolin and Oaks used to date is one of the bigger non-stories they’ve ever featured.