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Today is

The Hollywood Round: Part 1 - February 8

Thousands were called... 175 were able to answer. Now we're back in Hollywood, and only 24 will survive the week. The other 151... are going back home. The judges will be ruthless, the competition will be fierce, and the emotion will be raw. Everyone will be pushed to the break and anything can happen. But the goal is clear... The top 24 on the road to the next American Idol.

First, the arrival. One hundred and seventy-five people arrive, only half will audition today. The other half will get to see Hollywood for themselves.

First Round, of course, the contestants will perform one song from a list of 12. Michael Orland and Debra Byrd, the Idol voice coaches, will work with them all. When they perform on stage, they'll have backing and vocals. They've chosen their song and their key. The rest is on the judges... Let Hell Week begin.

Kellie Pickler is first. She sings "Hopelessly Devoted To You"... and it's a mite pitchy... Simon pins it to nerves, but he's looking at everyone. Will she move on? YES! Her roommate.. not so lucky.

Meanwhile Patrick Hall (27, Gravette, AR) sings "If". Very croonerish. Smooth. But not too smooth. Paula liked it, though. Randy thinks that he needs to work on the look. Simon says he's likable. Is he moving on? YES!

Meanwhile, the tour group is whooping it up on the double decker bus as they tour the Hollywood Bowl. Back on stage, Steven David and Ronnie Norman share a love for themselves and for the ladies. Will it translate into a love for the next round? Ronnie and Steven go with "If I Ever Fall in Love". Both are off-kilter. Both are... going home. Both do not take it well.

In contrast, Lisa Tucker was all smiles.. She sings "Hopelessly Devoted" with the fury of someone twice her age. Good thing? Yes!

So does Laura Wright, Shelby Johnson, Eden Kentner, and Matthew Buckstein. Matt moves on.

Jason Horn muses over Paula's star on the Walk of Fame. Meanwhile, Ayla Brown gets a helping hand at Mann's Chinese Theatre.

Back on stage, it's a safe bet that Ashley Guadamuz (16, Martinez, CA), Kymyata Kelty (26, Charlotte), and Linelle Kagawa (27, Ft. Lauderdale) won't move on. Randy decides that it's time for a word, saying that they're looking for stars who are winners. "This is serious!"

What about Paris Bennett? She goes with "Can't Fight the Moonlight"... And she can't fight being loud and powerful. Paris... through to the next round!

And finally, the tour group looks at the beach, while Boston's Megan Zieger doesn't feel too good for some reason. She thinks that she is in trouble. Taylor Hicks on stage is cutting with "The First Cut is the Deepest." He's very raspy. But it's enough to move on.

Garet Johnson is mesmerized by the sea. He's the requisite "I'm seeing the ocean for the first time" contestant. Day 1 closes on both ends. Not only with both groups, but with both the rejected and the 41 players moving on to the next round.

They go to the town, while the other half is ready to fight to stay alive. Megan is walking wounded. The power singer only has so much voice on her. Meanwhile, Melissa Lucas is pitching it up. Don't cry now.. it's time. She sings "I Believe in You and Me." And she's literally walking wounded. Paula wants to know what happened... Megan says "Laryngitis." She takes it a pitch lower... and it's perfect. But is it enough? ... YES!

Meanwhile, everyone breaks out the excuses... At the walk of fame, everyone wonders.. Where's Simon's star? Ryan has one... Paula has one... I think Journey got one while Randy was still in the group.

At the Orpheum, the Brittenums go it alone here. Derrell takes on "I'll Never Love This Way Again". He can sing, but he's not a star. Terrell sings "The First Cut Is The Deepest" a la Gerald Levert. Paula liked his audition better than the round number. Judgment time... and they're both coming back! But they're not in the mood to celebrate. They think they had what it took to win, and that Carrie was just another everysinger that just got lucky. Here's a figure for you, though... 2.2 million albums. And still on the Top 10 chart. You tell me that isn't luck.

Finally, the 41 tour the Kodak, where one like may change. Meanwhile, the Brittenums believe that America will choose whoever has the opportunity to be the best? It looks like "If I Ever Fall in Love" by Shai is bringing out the best in some and the worst in others. Gina Glocksen, Brett "Ace" Young, David Radford, and Kevin Covais all sing it.. They all pass.

Will Joshua and Jarrett Simmons join the Brittenums? Joshua sings "Broken Road". Forgettable. Jarrett sings "I Believe In You and Me". Too big. The moment.. Joshua... Jarrett... going home.

Onto the Magic Castle for the 41 from day 1... and no, the magic word is not Clay Aiken. It's "I'm the Next American Idol." But Garet Johnson's going to have to pull a rabbit out of his ten-gallon hat to stay in the game. He sings "Can't Fight the Moonlight"... Simon fights... and there goes the hat. Garet Layne Johnson steps forward... and is in!

And the Brittenums are pissed to see some people go on "without any talent".

Chris Daughtry wins his audition. Mandisa Hundley wins her audition. Katharine McPhee wins her audition... hands DOWN, and it helps that she looks like Rachael Ray. It REALLY does.

Finally, Crazy Dave Hoover from Chicago takes the mic... calm and tranquil-like. Yeah, right. He sings "Bat out of Hell"... And that's exactly how he sounded... "That was wonderful, thank you." Not too wonderful, though. He's going home. And so are 65 others. The dream continues for 109. But what happens when group dynamic sets in? Find out next week as we whittle those 109 to 24.


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