'American Idol' Recap: Lazaro Arbos Laughs Last in Hollywood
Judges turn up the heat in Tinseltown on Wednesday's episode of the FOX competition.
After weeks of airing auditions episodes, FOX’s American Idol hit Hollywood for the grueling process that trims the long list of hopefuls down to the Top 40.
This season, the Hollywood round begins with the boys. For the first time in 12 seasons, men and women will compete separately until the Las Vegas round. Judges Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Randy Jackson are ready for the battle.
They’ll sing a cappella during a sudden death round, followed by group rounds and finally a solo performance. Producers reveal a new twist this year by choosing groups based on vocals instead of letting contenders pick their pals like on seasons past. Here’s what I learned from Day 1 of the Hollywood round.
Judges get tough. While quirky characters may have charmed the judges during auditions, their antics aren’t enough to keep them in the competition any longer. Karl Skinner, 26, got the boot after his dance moves failed to impress the judges. The foxy fireman, Dustin Watts, and Calvin Peters, the singing doctor, also get eliminated early on the episode.
When 22-year-old Cortez Shaw gives a not-so-great- performance of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” the judges look insulted. Nicki makes no secret of her disappointment. Although he makes it through, it’s the first of a few cutting critiques from the no nonsense panel.
Sob stories won’t cut it. In a surprising twist, 28-year-old Brian Rittenberry gets cut after what sounds like a great rendition of “Back At One.” There with his cancer-fighting wife and young son, he is devastated when judges tell him he isn’t advancing. “I think they made a mistake,” he says. Me too.
Remember 16-year-old Kayden Stephensen? He's the young man who's suffering from cystic fibrosis and isn't expected to live past 35. Well, he chokes during the group round. Paired with the other youngsters of the group, he can’t seem to get into the groove of “For The Longest Time” and his voice falls flat.
“I started singing and the lyrics kind of left me, but if you give me a second chance I promise I could be better,” he told the terribly torn panel. His pleading wasn’t enough to save him, and the judges sent him packing. I knew his voice wasn't going to win the entire competition, but I didn't expect him to leave this soon.
Frontrunners emerge. Lazaro Arbos, 21, solidifies his spot as a frontrunner from his very first note. As Lazaro tries to explain his song choice, he furiously fights his crippling stutter. But then, the confusion clears up once he starts singing Robbie Williams’ “Angels." Nicki mimes a heart sign to him over her face and a few fellow contenders give him a standing ovation.
Later, he struggles to learn the lyrics to The Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and is criticized by group mates, Josh Stephens, 19, and Scott Fleenor, 21. While his teammates try to blame his language barrier and speech impediment for slowing them down, Lazaro gives the best performance of them all making it through while the two jerks get sent home. BOOM! Watch it again above.
The guys turn at the Hollywood round will continue Thursday when the remaining men tackle their solos for a shot at the Top 40.
Which dismissals shocked you the most on Hollywood Day 1?