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'American Idol' recap: Hollywood week #2


Posted Sunday, April 1, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The solo performances tonight give me confidence "Idol" will be able to find a solid top 10 for us to vote on in a couple of weeks.

They open the two hours with Chris Harrison of "The Bachelor" introducing the show. April Fool's! (And ABC synergy alert!)

The third round features the classic three rooms, each with about 25 contestants. Two rooms go to the next round, one room goes home. "Idol" has been using this device for most of its first 15 seasons.

The top 50 is named tonight. Monday will be the "green mile" episode where the top 50 find out who the top 24 will be.

We heard 29 out of the 76 singers at least in part. They will do a "spotlight" performance in front of a live audience that will pare down the 50.

Up first: Gabby Barrett (17, Pittsburgh, Daddy's Girl): In black leather, she goes old school with an R&B smooth cover of Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way." A few over-strained notes but she can belt. Luke is especially psyched. "I feel like I smashed it," she said.

Marcio Donaldson (28, Compton, Calif. server) - He twists "Natural Woman" (Aretha again) by going to "Natural Man." We kind of only hear part of it since we hear him doing a narration. What little we hear is fine.

Effie Passero (26, Modesto, assistant property manager) - Her "Alone" is confident and strong though I can't help but think of Carrie Underwood's season four take. She goes a little overboard in the chorus but overall, her voice is super powerful and Katy gives her a standing O. No doubt she's through.

Amelia Hammer Harris (26, Lexington, musician) - The daughter of a famous songwriter gives "Feel it Right" a real R&B tinge and we hear just enough of it to know she's going through.

Cade Foehner (21, Shelbyville, Tex., student) - Unlike Amelia, he takes the Portugal, the Man hit bluesy Texas grit. And all three judges give him a standing ovation. "Take me back to '68!" Lionel said, comparing him to Robert Plant.

Harper Grace (16, McKinney, high school student) - She sang an original song in her audition so she's back with another one "Rest in Peace.' On the keyboard, she brings a mature, airy pop voice. Impressive. "Luke Bryan kept smiling at me and I kept blushing," she said.

Two of the quirkiest characters in Hollywood are "alpaca" Noah Davis and hyper happy dorky Catie Turner.

Noah (18, Royal, Ariz.) - He brings decent strength and vulnerability to "Piece by Piece" with a bit of Clay Aiken harm. But the judges felt like he lacked confidence. So he might be on the fence.

Catie (17, Langhorne, Pa., high school student) - "If I'm going out, I'm going out with no regrets." She is so charming and her voice just warms the heart. Her lyrical content is exceptional. She can stab you with a smile. They can't possibly not move her to the top 24.

Two folks sing Daughtry's "Home." We hear their versions interspersed.

Brandon Elder (23, Arab, construction) is the dude who sang a song about his dead mom that made me teary eyed. He is still pretty raw and growls a lot.

Dennis Lorenzo (26, Philadelphia, singer) offers a smoother, cleaner version.

Maddie Poppe (20, Clarksville, Iowa) She opted for an original song, "Don’t Ever Let You Children Grow Up," as her dad recommended. She has one of my favorite voices in the competition and her song was good enough to highlight her strengths.

Michelle Sussette - She taught the judges how to dance during her audition - sorta. She lost her voice at the most inopportune time. She doesn't sound terrible during a very spirited performance. She has some charisma and "Idol" could use a little Latin flair.

Ron Bultongez (21, Plano, Tex.) - He opts for Phillip Philips' "Home" and while he looks super nervous, his vocals are interesting. He is far from perfect but he brings emotive power, which matters more. "Home is created by the people," he said.

Jonny Brenns (18, St. Augustine, Fla., college student) - He does not have his dad's approval pursuing music and it hurts. I like his voice but he is a bit shaky during the chorus. And he botches the end. (But surprise! He makes it through...)

Crystal Alicea (20, Winter Haven, Fla.) - She struggled with lyrics during Hollywood. She struggles with "Set Fire With the Rain." Her notes are all over the place and then seals her fate by forgetting her lines. "Idol" didn't even bother posting her video. Ouch. "She didn't have confidence," Katy said. "Learn the lyrics, girl."

Deonte Baker (26, Chicago, vocal coach) - He has some good moments and Lionel liked it. But Luke and Katy looked pained. No way he's coming back.

Jurnee, a favorite early on, gets montaged, along with Trevor Holmes. They both thought the judges liked him. I don't feel I heard enough of either to proffer a firm opinion.

Maddie Zahm (19, Boise, Idaho, special education teacher) felt tentative to me during her initial audition but she has blossomed in Hollywood. What we hear sounds rock solid in a "Up to the Mountain." Katy thinks she's holding back.

Shannon O'Hara (17, Mooresville, NC, nanny) - It's not the cleanest vocal of "Up to the Mountain" but she can bring out the emotion, which matters more. Very pretty.

Genavieve Linkowski. (19, Goodrich, Mich., home school teacher) She of the nine siblings goes for Kesha's "Praying." This is a super hard song and she is off key at times but it's pretty good. Is pretty good good enough? Probably not.

Garrett Jacobs (18, Bossier City, La) - He is of the bluesy variety and smartly picks Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." He sounds decent but the judges feel like his voice is shot.

Brittany Holmes (28, Frisco, Tex., vocal coach) - She was rejected by the judges but the public voted her in during a DWTS promo. She is a professional, allowing us to "dive" into her feelings. The judges are clearly impressed.

Gabbii Jones (26, caretaker) - She has a time limit from her dad to make a go at this singing. But this "A Million Reasons" is super messy.

Thaddeus Johnson (25, Oklahoma City, server) - He goes for a Katy Perry "Rise" and gives it a lovely intense gospel feel. Katy gives him a standing ovation. He is in the top 50 for sure.

We hear a little bit of Kay Kay doing Adele, then Laine Hardy comes in. He's the dude who whined about doing Justin Bieber during group. His Chris Stapleton is raspy as heck. The judges sound disappointed.

Caleb Lee Hutchinson (19, Dallas, GA) said he struggled being away from his family. The best shot to make the top 24 from Georgia charms the judges with "Your Man" by Josh Turner, Scotty McCreery's tune. He isn't the most charismatic on stage but his country sound hits the spot.

Final one we'll hear: Michael Woodard. This bowling alley employee has a sweet soprano who decides to go Broadway with a "Cabaret" song, very different from his audition. His outfit looks like he's trying out for "Grey's Anatomy" but he has the judges on their feet. Katy puts her chair away and just stands to applaud.

Room 1 features Catie Turner, Maddie Zahn and Dennis Lorenzo.

Room 2 includes Crystal Alicea, Brandon Elder and Deonte Baker. It's clearly the dead room. Lionel gives the bad news.

Room 3 features Jonny Brenns, Mara Justine and Ada Vox.

Thaddeus Johnson is inexplicably moved from room 1 to room 3. Is that just to mess with their heads??? Of course! In the end, it makes no difference because those are the two "live" rooms.

Here is the top 50, compiled by MJ's Big Blog.

Females

Alyssa Raghu
Amalia Watty
Amelia Harris
Britney Holmes
Carly Moffa
Catie Turner
Christina Jones
Effie Passero
Gabby Barrett
Harper Grace 
Julia Cole
Jurnee Siani
Kaitlann Runnels
Kassy Levels [AI15 Top 51]
Kay Kay Alexis
Kourtney Smith
Layla Spring
Lee Vasi*
Maddie Poppe (The Voice – No Turn S10)
Maddie Zahm
Mara Justine (America’s Got Talent S9)
Michelle Sussett
Shannon O’Hara
Victoria McQueen

Males

Adam Sanders A.K.A. Ada Vox [AI12 Top 52]
Brandon Diaz (X Factor)
Cade Foehner
Caleb Hutchinson (The Voice No Turn S9)
Cody Martin
Dennis Lorenzo
Dominique Posey
Ephraim Bugumba (Storyteller)
Garrett Jacobs
Jonny Brenns
Justin Ray [AI9 Top 48]
Laine Hardy
Les Greene
Marcio Donaldson (AI15 Hollywood Week)
Michael J. Woodard
Milo Sposato
Noah Davis
Ricky Manning (The Voice Season 7)
Ron Bultongez
Samothias Sohmer
Stephen Quinn
Taylor Williams (Reportedly Taylor John Williams from Season 7)
Thaddeus Johnson [AI9 Top 48]
Trevor Holmes
Trevor McBane
William Casanova


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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.