American Idol’s Hollywood Week kicked off Sunday night with two rounds of cuts, as judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie begin to whittle down the 175 finalists.
The first hour saw the contestants performing brief solos for the judges. Many of the standouts from the audition rounds made it through the first cut. As in past seasons, the judges lined up contestants and did the “When I call your name, step forward/backward” form of eliminations.
Katy Perry was feeling all the feels and showing her love for certain contestants in, um, aggressive ways. Laci Kaye Booth so impressed Katy with her country-tinged rendition of “Natural Woman” that Katy threw her chair right off the judges’ platform.
Next, L.A. standout Alejandro Aranda wowed Katy with his voice and intricate guitar moves on Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” moving Katy to throw her jacket at him. And when Madison Vandenburg, dubbed “the next Kelly Clarkson” in her audition round, took the stage to sing a — you guessed it — Kelly Clarkson song, Katy was so overcome that she ran straight out of the room.
Perhaps the most emotional moment of this round came courtesy of Dimitrius Graham, who FaceTimed his mom, who was about to go into surgery. He sang Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” and Katy broke down in tears pretty much as soon as he started.
Each of these contestants made it through to the next round.
Other standouts who were safe this round: Myra Tran, Margie Mays, Nick Townsend, Walker Burroughs, and Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon.
Some notable nos: Lauren Engle, the woman whose husband died tragically in a car crash, and Peach Martine, the teen Katy jokingly thought was a robot.
The group round is typically make-or-break for the contestants, as they deal with the stress of working with others while going on little to no sleep. The most common issues this time around: bossy group members, contestants forgetting the lyrics, and some getting sick.
Colby Swift — who was gifted Luke Bryan’s own boots in the first round — forgot to the lyrics to Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” and was eliminated, while Wade Cota wrote the lyrics to The Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” on his arm and still forgot them, but somehow made it through anyway.
The best group of the night was Unexpected Vibe, which included the legally blind Shayy, Dimitrius Graham, Assata Renay, and William Oliver. When Shayy became frustrated because she couldn’t see the lyrics to memorize them, her group mates rallied around her. They delivered a flawless performance of Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way,” and donned darkened glasses during the performance to simulate how Shayy sees. The gesture of solidarity was enough to move Lionel to tears. Everyone except William made it through the round.
Before the final group of the night could perform, the show ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. One of the group members, Nate Walker, gets so sick that EMTs were called and he was rushed to the hospital. We’ll have to wait until Monday night to find out what happens to Nate and how the group — ironically named Ain’t Going Home — performs.
Monday night also marks the Solo Rounds, so tune in to American Idol at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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