Beaming as they touch down in California, the American Idol Season 13 finalists have no idea what's ahead of them for their first few hours of this year's Hollywood Week. Thinking they're going to the hotel for some much-needed R&R, they're actually driven to an airport hanger where they'll be forced to compete in a brand new round, "Hollywood or Home." As Jennifer Lopez points out, "They don't even know they're singing today."
Here's the deal: Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr., and J.Lo just reviewed the people they gave Golden Tickets to and found quite a few wanting. Cue the cutthroat eliminations about to go down in front of these folks' competitors, loved ones, and, oh yeah, all of America.
"The stakes are very, very high," Harry tells us, and we're pretty worried despite how adorable Harry Connick looks.
Hollywood or Home
Up first to prove he deserves his spot in the show: Johnny Newcomb from Salt Lake City. He sings "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster The People and we're digging it. Strumming along to his guitar, Johnny's voice sounds young but this kid is only 17, after all. What did the judges think? We don't know yet! To make things even tougher, they deliberate in front of the contestants and won't be sharing their verdict until the very end.
Also fighting for their lives: 20-year-old of Connor Zwetsch from Atlanta with "Let Her Go" by Passenger, Ali Jane Henderson with Britney Spears' "Toxic," Caitlin Johnson and a bad case of nerves, and the musical healer, Adam Roth, with yet another rendition of "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons. There are quite a few others but these are the ones who earn themselves more than a couple of seconds of airtime.
Tristen Langley from Austin also takes the mic; you may remember him as the son of the Season 1's Nikki McKibbin. Right behind him, Morgan Deplitch, Stephanie "The Cheerleader" Petronelli, and Rich Lafleur.
"It can't be mediocre. It has to be great," Harry says, as the masses look on in horror.
We also see Eric Wood, Alyssa Siebken, Neco Starr, and Khristian "Sometimes I Have an Accent" D'Avis and with that it's the end of "Hollywood or Home." The rest of the contestants, the lucky ones, get sent home and the remainders, the unlucky ones, are split into two groups. One bus goes to the airport. One goes to the hotel. Both are freakin' out big time.
Which bus is the one you want a ride on? That be — drum roll please — Bus No. 2.
Who else just lost five years off their lives?! And we're only 30 minutes into this episode, guys!
So You Survived Hollywood or Home...
With that traumatic experience behind us, it's back to the Hollywood Week we know and love. The contestants are divided into groups and perform one by one. Then, the judges make two groups, one for the folks who get to stick around and the other for people headed to the airport. It's kinda tough to watch.
Leaving in the first round are the likes of Samantha Calmes and Selena Moreno, whose twin sister was cut during auditions but made the trip west to support Selena. Lauren Ogburn also doesn't make it through but vows to return next year, a common theme among many of the departed.
The cuts continue with Ayla Stackhouse, Jade Lathan, Sydney Arterbridge, and Bryan Watt also waving goodbye to Idol (for now). Cutie Quaid Edwards has to catch a plane home, too.
There were plenty of other talented people who parted ways with Idol during this first evening of Hollywood action, just going to prove that this year's competition is one of the toughest ever.
The next round continues tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. on FOX. You know we'll be watching so check back here for the latest!
Were you surprised by tonight's episode? Already see a winner in the group? Think someone should have stayed who didn't? Hit the comments!