AMERICAN IDOL - "Hollywood Week" - "American Idol" contestants continue to vie for their chance at stardom while in the heart of Los Angeles, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on The ABC Television Network, SATURDAY, MARCH 30 (8:00 - 10:00 p.m. EDT), streaming and on demand. (ABC/Eric McCandless) SHAWN ROBINSON
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

Quick take on ‘American Idol’ Hollywood solo rounds

Originally posted Tuesday, March 26, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The top 40 were named tonight and some of my favorites made it through including Madison Vanderburg, Walker Burroughs, Laci Kaye Booth and Khai the Singer

On Sunday, the 40 get cut in half in Hawaii. Then the top 14 are named Monday. 

But first up is the “cliffhanger” from Sunday night: we have to get through Nate Walker’s hospital visit and return. His group, cheekily titled “Ain’t Going Home” were all over the place as their “Longest Time” was mediocre at best and Nate was forced to sing an entire verse after trying to beg off. Trent Harmon had mono season 15 and muscled through Hollywood with minimal complaint. Nate? Not so much. I can’t imagine he will make it to the top 14 at this rate.

Anyway, of the 98 in group rounds about 28 were cut. This leaves 70 who will be cut to 40 after the solo rounds. The 70 will be split into three rooms and one room will be those ousted. This is a tradition “Idol” has done since the early years.

Walker Burroughs, one of my favorites who is from Birmingham, opens the solo rounds. I adore his voice. His ‘Your Song” generates a standing ovation from the judges. “Harry Potter can sing!” Katy said. 

Juan Pablo. Told he was cheesy, he tried to dial it back but maybe that’s just him. He goes for a super sincere Lady Gaga “A Million Reasons” but sounds shaky. No way.

Ryan Hammond.  He lost 170 pounds. He sings well but I’m not a huge fan of his voice. Still, there’s no doubt he’ll make it through. 

Khai the Singer. She’s the poverty-stricken girl who has never even been on an escalator before (she calls it an “escalade”), much less a plane. I adored her first audition and she rises to the occasion here. I can’t help but smile watching and listening to her. The judges felt like she needs more confidence but I felt like she brought it. 

Riley Thompson. What little we heard of her “Ring of Fire” felt more pageant-like than authentic. But she definitely has a good look and certainly a decent voice. Need to see more.

Raquel Trinidad. Who? We didn’t her in the initial auditions. She does make the top 40 so they had a reason to feature her. What we heard was just a snippet. 

Evelyn Cormier.  “Wonderwall” is her go-to band with her family. I find her annoying, again colored by her appearance on “90 Day Fiance.” 

Eddie Island. He opts for an original song called “1974.” He knows it’s risky. It’s not a great song but he sounds fine, as Katy noted. 

Alejandro Aranda. Another original. It’s a bit dull without a memorable hook. But he’s distinctive. 

Margie Mays. This hyperactive mess is falling apart behind the scenes but manages to sing well during her solo round. 

Wade Cota. The man who forgot his lyrics and wrote them on the arm during group rounds (but couldn’t see them) is still here. This time, he wrote his own song. Yawn. Oh, well. 

Nate Walker. He’s back and his voice is back, too. It wasn’t terrible.  The judges did not seem thrilled. 

Tyler Mitchell. He’s tired and stressed. He misses his family. He started strongly but then forgot his lyrics on a song he sang “a million times.” Oops. The fatigue clearly hurt him. He feels terrible. “I’m just not ready,” he said, crying. (But alas, he does make it through!)

Drake McCain. The dude with the Kid ’n Play hair so wants to make his mom proud. He has such a pretty voice, great tone. 

Bumbly. Now here’s a woman with an oddly memorably stage name who also came from a poor upbringing. We hear a tiny bit of her “God is a Woman” and she’s okay.

Nick Townsend. “Idol” is going through a string of “sad sack’ stories. He lost his two brothers. We hear some of his “In My Blood” but I can’t tell if it’s anything all that special. 

Gaba. She met her egg donor and found out they went to the same college and sang in the same a capella group. Honestly, she doesn’t sound particularly good. No way. 

Jeremiah Lloyd Johnson. He’s the gay man whose family won’t accept him. His boyfriend is the only one there. He is emotive but doesn’t do much for me. Still, no doubt he’ll go through.

Kate Barnett from Kenessaw. Have we seen her before? We get a snippet of her John Mayer cover and the judges are on the fence. 

Mya Tran. She scales it back and sounds alright though it really is not my jam.

Shayy. I find her more relatable than Mya and what little we hear is decent. 

Laci Kaye Booth. It’s cool that they show video of Laci - age 9 - watching the three-room Hollywood cutdown from season three and we get images of Diana DeGarmo and Fantasia. This is a case of someone whose vocal textures warm me. She is not the strongest vocalist but I like her rasp. 

Uché - He has three sisters and covers “Scars To Your Beautiful.” He said after working upbeat, he decides to opt for a ballad. He is not very subtle vocally or in his stage presentation. But he’s worth watching. 

Madison Vandenburg She initially takes  a chance with an original, then changes her mind to an Adele song after Bobby and the vocal coach warned her not to. And she pulls it off brilliantly, flawlessly. 

Austin Michael Robinson. He changes his song at the very last second and tells the vocal coach to do “Parachute” by Chris Stapleton. He hadn’t rehearsed. The band is not prepared but eventually gets into it. He has some good moments, and not-so-good moments. A rehearsal would have made a big difference. 

Shawn Robinson from Duluth: He brings smooth confidence to the stage. No doubt he’ll make it through.  

Alyssa Raghu. Her stage presence has improved. Her vocals were just okay this time around. 

Johanna Jones. This song has been a bit over-sung on reality shows but she does an extremely agreeable version. Definitely worth moving forward. Then her boyfriend proposes to her. Katy cries like a baby. 

Group room 1. This room includes Uche, Laci Kaye Booth, Nick Townsend, Walker Burroughs, Shayy, Margie Mays, Laine Hardy, Jeremiah Harmon and Drake McCain. It’s clearly a yes room. 

Group rooms 2 and 3. Room 2 (the loser room) has Austin Michael, local girl Katie Belle, Juan Pablo and Gaba in it. Room 3 has Eddie Island, Wade Cota, Demetrius Graham, Tyler Mitchell, Alyssa Raghu, Mya Tran and Bumbly and they make it through. Luke does the trick by saying their time in Hollywood is over and they start crying, then says they’re off to Hawaii. Do they have to do that every year???

The Top 40 fly to Hawaii at a Disney resort for a live showcase. Half will e cut. Then it’s celebrity duets that drop it to 14. 

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About the Author

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