Tonight’s episode of American Idol is one many of us have been waiting for: it’s Hollywood Week! And tonight, new judge Ellen DeGeneres joins the panel.
Join me here while I blog live during the show!
7:45 PM – as I wait for the show to start, I’ve been noticing some stories on the web about Ellen saying that Simon Cowell is meaner than she thought, and that after Hollywood Week she’s asked to sit on the other end of the judge’s table, away from Simon.
I wonder: does she really mean that? Or is she being slightly serious and slightly humorous? I’ve always thought Simon and Ellen were pals; I saw him on her show once and they seemed quite friendly.
Well, we’ll see tonight how they get along, won’t we?
We start off with Ellen addressing the 181 contestants, explaining that when people ask what she knows about music, she says, “I know what it’s like to stand on a stage and try to please a room full of people.” I’m so excited to have her on the show!

After the judges are settled, the contestants are brought out in groups of eight to sing individually, either a capella or with an instrument they play. Group 1 features Skii Bo Ski and Katie Stevens. Katie is through, Skii Bo Ski isn’t, with the comment from Ellen, “Sexy and scary, it’s a fine line.” I agree. Yeesh, he’s weird.
In the next group, we see Southern girl Vanesssa Wolfe and Andrew Garcia. Andrew does his own rendition of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” and blows the judges away with his acoustic guitar version. Kara calls it genius, and compares it to the way Adam Lambert could turn a song around. Andrew and worship pastor Tasha Layton both make it through. (You can read more about the other Christian artists on Idol Season 9, including Ashley Rogriguez and Todrick Hall.)

But poor Vanessa! Her nerves got the best of her and she blew her audition. Which is too bad. She had a lot of people rooting for her. My advice? Keep singing, Vanessa! Build up your confidence and come back next year. You said it best yourself, “What’s life without a risk or two?”
Other familiar faces making it through include Janell Wheeler, Haeley Vaughn, Mary Powers, Todrick Hall, Charity Vance, and Ashley Rodriguez.
Day 2 of Hollywood Week kicks off with some advice from Simon: “Don’t be nervous, don’t be boring, and don’t forget the lyrics.”
We see beat boxer Jay Stone and also jazzy Lilly Scott. Jay doesn’t make it, but Lilly does, with her rendition of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Lullaby of Birdland.” Lilly is good. I mean really, really, really good.
Also through is Michael Lynch, whose wife goes into labor with their first child while he’s in LA. Michael makes it through; although news reports have said that he makes the Top 24 and then gets the boot because his father lets the cat out of the bag to media. We’ll have to see what happens.
Justin Williams is back, this time at the piano, and he croons out a barfy love song that gets him sent home. (So maybe the reason Justin didn’t go through last season had more to do with his talent – or lack of – rather than the fact that some poor girl posted a picture of him in Hollywood, as his family claimed.)
Tim Urban goes through singing David Cook’s “Come Back to Me.” He was OK. It’s hard to really compare him because David Cook is so good, this guy just can’t live up to him, no matter how well he sings.
Also going home? Paige DiChausse, Erica Rhodes, and sisters Amanda and Bernadette DiSimone. (I love the sisters’ great attitude.)
Also going home? Sweet 16-year-old Maddy Curtis. Simon said she definitely chose the wrong song. Don’t cry, Maddy! You have at least six more seasons to try out!
But going through is blues guitarist Casey James, who took his shirt off at Kara’s urging at his last audition. I thought he was boring then, but he definitely is better with the guitar.
Closing out the auditions with huge auditions are Crystal Bowersox and DiDi Benami. I LOVE these girls. Crystal sang “Natural Woman” and DiDi sang a song by Kara DioGuardi. Both blew the judges away.
Well, that’s it for the first round of Hollywood. Wow, are there some great female singers this season! DiDi Benami, Crystal Bowersox, Mary Powers, Katie Stevens, Lilly Scott, Haeley Vaughn?
And what about the guys? Andrew Garcia, for sure. Michael Lynch is good, and Casey James might be good, but without the guitar, he’s a bit boring. (And he needs to make sure he doesn’t take that shirt off again. Eeeeew.)
But as we all know, careers hang in the balance on group day, when emotions run high and contestants can completely lose their grip on reality under the pressure. So let’s see who can stand the heat.
And what did you think about tonight’s auditions? Are the top 24 rumors looking good for you? And what did you think of Ellen as a judge?
Join me here tomorrow blogging live for Hollywood Week round 2!
American Idol contestant Justin Williams was also a Season 8 contestant
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Boston Auditions – recap
Atlanta audtions – Blogging live play-by-play
Auditions Recap – Vanessa Wolf, Jermaine Sellers, Holly Harden, Miriam Lemnouni, Noel Reese, and Pants on the Ground
Chicago auditions – Blogging live
American Idol Season 9 Chicago auditions recap – Angela Martin, Charity Vance, Katelyn Epperly, John Park and boob boxing
American Idol Season 9 Los Angeles auditions – Blogging live!
American Idol Season 9 Dallas auditions – Blogging live!
American Idol Season 9 Spoiler Alert: Is this the Top 24?
American Idol: so how do those auditions really work, anyway?
American Idol Season 9 “Road to Hollywood” auditions – Blogging live
American Idol Season 9 Christian artists
American Idol Season 9 Denver auditions: Blogging live (& the scoop on Nicci Nix)
American Idol contestant Angela Brown’s mother missing
Will Howard Stern take over for Simon Cowell on American Idol Season 10?
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