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Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

'American Idol' Hollywood week recap, episode 1 (solos, group)

Posted Monday, March 26, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

They brought 169 people to Hollywood. That's fewer than many seasons but still a sizable number.

Given the truncated time frame this season on ABC, we get just one hour of the first solo eliminations, hearing fewer than 20 of the 169.

The second hour is group rounds. In the past, the group rounds would normally get two hours. So the editors cut almost all of the "let's put the groups together" and "exhausted rehearsal" drama. They go straight to performances and just intersperse bits of those fatigue issues.

It's unclear how many were left at this stage. We only hear from seven of the groups in full and fewer than 35 singers total.

A couple of ladies stuck out to me: Maddie Poppe and Catie Turner. Two Georgians clearly made it this far: Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Victoria McQueen. Andrew Weaver is nowhere in sight.

We start with solo tracks, ten at a time:

First up: Layla Spring ("Last Kiss"), the girl with the cut little sister. She did a great job.

Alyssa Raghu, who is super close to her dad, came next ("Wind Beneath My Wings"). She has a very mature voice that sounds great acapela.

Goat farmer Trevor McBane ("Washed By The Water"), who looks a bit like an Amish man, brings plenty of soul.

Then Georgia's best hope Caleb lee Hutchinson, whose "94.9/The Bull" Luke Bryan promo imitation got replayed, makes Luke Bryan grin like the Mad Hatter with his classic Keith Whitley song "Don't Close Your Eyes." "He's coming for your job," Katy said.

All four featured make it through.

Alpaca lover Noah Davis, who knows about "wig," is next. He has a really enjoyable voice covering Jessie J's "Mama Knows Best." He doesn't look like a pop star but he sounds like he could be one.

The twins Milo and Julian Sposato each sing. Julian sounds better to me but Milo makes it through! Julian doesn't. The twins are split. Tippy, Noah and Julianni also make it through.

Three singers featured during the auditions -  Kennedee Rittenhouse ,  Joshua Ward ,  Krysten Harris  - were cut.

Catie Turner is the quirkiest, weird girl who is a delight because she doesn't care what you think. She could have been that "bee girl" in the Blind Melon "No Rain" video. She could be a joke singer but she isn't. She really has it together with her "Come Together." I'm impressed! Afterwards, the guy she has a crush on Zach D'Onofrio tries to channel his inner Buble but isn't good enough for the next round - a bit too hammy. Catie is almost as crushed as Zach.

Maddie Poppe looks like a keeper for the top 14. Her "Dreams" by Brandi Carlisle sounds fully formed, a truly bracing voice. She is an immediate favorite for me.

Cade Foehner, a former rodeo player, is the first person to show up who didn't have an audition featured. (Why? No idea...) He's very soulful/bluesy. *

Johnny Brenns surprised his family by trying out. He does a ballad by the 1975 on the keyboard. He proves his worth and gets an easy clearance to the next round.

Jurnee has a classic R&B/pop voice and sounds great.

Dennis Lorenzo, newly wed, also brings the pretty with his Ed Sheeran "Thinking Out Loud."

Trevor Holmes, the man Katy flirted with shamelessly, has the crowd swooning with his light falsetto. He's in but no way he is going to make it to the top 24, though, on looks and just an okay voice.

Dave Francisco, the man who survived a nasty car accident and is miraculously walking, has an interesting nasal tone. But surprise! He doesn't make the cut.

Others cut:  Griffin Tucker ,  Daniel Ethridge ,  Cameron Theodus. I liked Daniel. Bummer. 

Some notables that moved forward but we don't get to hear:  Effie Passero, Ada Vox, Maddie Zahm, Marcio Donaldson, Laine Hardy, Garrett Jacobs, Mara Justine. 

Group rounds

God's Diversity: This editors gave four of the five airtime: Michael J. Woodard (high voice), then Thaddeus Johnson (much deeper voice), Shannon O'Hara (big voice) and Kourtney Smith (equally big voice). They blow out the judges. You have to feel bad for the fifth person in the group. She never even gets a name.

The Gurope features Marcio Donaldson, Maddie Zahm, Cesley Parrish and Samuel  James. They are trying to sing the super difficult "Stayin Alive" and are struggling after rehearsal. Maddie forgets the lyrics but improvises to "stay alive." Lionel laughs and says "you'll have plenty of nights like this." Marcio, Maddie and Cesley make it through. Samuel? No.

Catie Turner's group Taco because, as Catie said, "When we're done, you're going to want to ta-co about us." Others in her group:  Alyssa Ragu, Kyah Robinson and College Park's Victoria McQueen. Catie has so much personality and she beat boxes with so much joy. Alyssa's voice again is so warm. We don't get to hear Victoria's solo. (Boo!) She makes it through but Kyah doesn't.

Turban-wearing Samuel Swanson has vocal issues and it hurts him. Johnny White - who forgets lyrics - and Rissa Watson are also cut.

Super Dope Hotness ( Aname Rose, Deonte Baker, Dennis Lorenzo, William Cassanova,  Milo Spisoto). Milo's mom is annoying stage mom. Milo changes the arrangement at the last second. Will it work? Dennis definitely stands out but Casanova is fun, too. Milo goes accapella at the end, but he's overrated IMHO. They all make it through. 

We see some good singers make it through including a beat-boxing Ada Vox, Kay Kay, Gabby Barrett, Christina Jones, Jurnee (who Lionel loves) and Dominique.

Soul 4 featuring Laine Hardy, Kaitlann Runnels, Mia Desaris, and Juliana Madrid. Laine is a complainer, that's for sure, and he can't recall the lyrics during rehearsal. But he pulls it out despite serious nerves. Kaitlann and Laine survive to the next round.

The last group is Don't Touch (Britney Holmes, Lee Vasi, Gabbii Jones and a super freaked out inexperienced Crystal Alicea). Crystal managed to get her act together for the live performance. She looks shockingly comfortable. Then there's a stupid trick Katy pulls. (Probably a dopey fake drama twist conjured up by the producers.). She asks one of the women to drop out because they supposedly only have three slots available. Crystal volunteers to be cut and starts to cry. Then Katy says they are all going through. Geez. That was mean!

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

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