American Idol

American Idol 2016 – Live Blog and Recap – Hollywood Round #3 (VIDEO)

Welcome to the live blog and recap for American Idol 2016, “Hollywood Round No. 3”! Host Ryan Seacrest and judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr. continue the search for the final American Idol!

Hollywood Week is winding down, and by the end of this week, we’ll know our Top 24 for Season 15! But we’ve still got a lot of performers left to go before we can get to that point. It’s going to be a crazy night of performances, drama, triumph and heartbreak. Who will rise to the occasion, and who will disappoint?

Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary and videos of the highlight performances as soon as they become available!

American Idol 2016 - Live Blog and Recap - Hollywood Round #3 (VIDEO)

Credit: FOX

Let’s get this show on the road!

RECAP

8:00 PM: We open on flashbacks of Hollywood Week and flashforwards of what’s to come for Solo Round, interspersed with the finalists waiting in their hotel rooms and backstage. Ryan Seacrest explains that the final challenge for Hollywood Week is to pick a song to best represent them, and then work out an arrangement with the band. Since this will be the first time the judges hear the contestants with a live band, the stakes are higher than ever. The contestants will not be given feedback after their performances. Instead, after all the performances are through, the finalists will each go into a room and wait to hear their fate. Two of the rooms will advance while one will be eliminated.

FIRST GROUP OF CONTESTANTS

STEPHANY NEGRETE is up first. Stephany misses her family, noting that she’s used to having her mom and dad with her, but can’t since her dad just recently had a heart procedure. So while it’s hard seeing all these young contestants with their parents alongside them, she plans to do her damndest to get through and make her family proud. Stephany sings “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele, and it’s pretty good. She’s got this nice, husky quality to her voice that reminds me of Cher.

THOMAS STRINGFELLOW is next, and he sings “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, but fears he’s messed up. I don’t have any idea how, since it sounded fine to me, if a little strained vocally. For his part, Keith thinks it was simply a bad song choice, and I can’t help but agree.

AVALON YOUNG sings “One Last Time” by Ariana Grande, and I have no idea why she picked this song. She’s got a great voice and wonderful tone, but this song didn’t really show that off. She should have sung something more straightforward.

OLIVIA ROX sings an original song, and the judges are as impressed with her songwriting ability as I am. This was really good, and easily my favorite of this first group of contestants.

JOHN WAYNE SCHULZ is up next, and this is his first time performing without his trademark cowboy hat, since he lost it in the holding room. He sings “John 3:16” by Keith Urban, and this is my favorite performance from John so far. If anything, I thought it was too short. He’s got a lot of talent, and I think voters would love him.

8:12 PM: Back from break with Harry and Keith stealing all of J-Lo’s mangoes. We then get some weird explanation for how solo round song choices went, as a series of songs were written on a board, with numbered slots nearby. A contestant has to write their name next to the corresponding song if they wanna do it, but the catch is that only three people could sign up for the same song. Tristan McIntosh doesn’t realize this, and ends up signing her name at the bottom of the list, making her the fourth person to sign up for the song. So now she’s all in tears because the song, “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts, means a lot to her emotionally, and now she won’t get to do it. Given the thin nature of the song choice list, I can’t say I blame her for crying. It’s insane that we’re fifteen seasons in, and so few songs get cleared.

SECOND GROUP OF CONTESTANTS

MACKENZIE BOURG is up first, and he sings an original song titled “Roses”. This is OUTSTANDING. Not only is his vocal absolutely on-point, it’s also an incredibly well-written song, so much so that Keith and J-Lo can’t believe it’s his own song. In particular, Keith declares the song to be a “lost Ed Sheeran track.” I can’t say I disagree there.

SHELBIE Z sings “Alone” by Heart, and while it’s a technically proficient performance, it doesn’t really grab me, emotionally. And that’s a deeply powerful song, so I don’t know what the disconnect is. I like Shelbie, but I didn’t love this.

KORY WHEELER sings “Fix You” by Coldplay, and this is another one that didn’t really jump out at me, even while I could admit that the vocal was a solid one. I think part of it was the junky arrangement, which made it sound like a song you sing at a dive bar somewhere.

JAMES VIII sings “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak, and I thought this was one of the best performances of the night so far. His vocal showed depth and range, and his liberal use of runs shows a level of control not often seen in this competition. It’s crazy to me that he doesn’t see himself as a singer. He’s got all the vocal chops to go far in this competition.

TRISTAN MCINTOSH sings “What Hurts the Most” after all. Turns out, the girl who signed up before Tristan decided to give up her spot on the song once she saw how much the track meant to her. That was super-sweet of her (which is why it’s a shame I’m blanking on her name right now). Tristan does a good job with the song, and I can see why it meant so much to her. There was a clear emotional attachment to the song there, and she even admits later that she almost started crying during the performance. It meant the world to her that her mom could be here, and her mother, for her part, beams with pride. This was a cute segment, although I wish they hadn’t ended it with a soundbite from Tristan about how she’s glad she got to sing the song she wanted. It just makes her sound a bit spoiled, like she cried in order to get her way. And I don’t think that’s who she is.

8:24 PM: We’re back from break, as we launch right into the third group of finalists…

THIRD GROUP OF CONTESTANTS

SONIKA VAID sings “One Last Time” by Ariana Grande, and THIS is a song that fits. At the very least, it fits her more than it fit Avalon. I’m telling you, man, Sonika is the real deal. She’s got the look, the voice, and this vulnerability to her performance that makes her really engaging to watch. Her mother wipes away tears as she watches her daughter onstage, and I can’t say I wouldn’t be doing the same, if I were in her mother’s shoes. However, while the judges love her voice, they seem a bit iffy on her performance style, with Keith saying her stage presence is the only thing she’s missing.

8:27 PM: We get a brief montage of all the friendships that have formed in Hollywood Week, particularly the bond that has formed between Lee Jean and Sara Sturm. They tell each other jokes, and Lee goes on and on about how amazing and awesome and cool Sara is in confessionals. For her part, Sara says Lee is one of her favorite people, comparing him to a little brother. But Lee seems like he has hearts in his eyes around her, from how he hugs her and tells her he loves her. They’re hoping they can both get through, but it’s uncertain right now.

LEE JEAN sings “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes, and this is absolutely note perfect. However, the problem here is that it’s almost too perfect. It sounds exactly like Shawn Mendes. He doesn’t really put his own stamp on the song. Still, he sounds great and he performs it well, getting the audience clapping along with him. Dude has tons of potential, as long as he gets to show off some artistry of his own.

SARA STURM sings “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane, although it sounds like the arrangement has shades of the Lily Allen version, at least in key. She does a solid job with it, and leaves more of a stamp on the song than Lee left on his. But I think the judges are going to favor Lee here. Normally, I’d say they’re both sure to get through, but it feels like the edit is setting it up so that only one goes through. And if that’s the case, I’m guessing it’s Lee. That said, I think there’s an argument to be made for Sara.

FOURTH GROUP OF CONTESTANTS

JENN BLOSIL sings “True Colors”, and I have the same issue that I had with Lee’s performance. It’s technically brilliant, but it sounds too much like the original artist. However, we find out that Hollywood Week has been getting to Jenn, as we see her crying in a confessional, saying all she wants to do is do a song justice. I think she did that song more than justice, my criticisms aside.

EMILY BROOKE has also been struggling with the pressure of Hollywood Week, since she’s feeling even more stress from the memories of coming up short last season. She sings “What Hurts the Most”, and it’s pretty good, although not spectacular. We find out why after the performance, as apparently it wasn’t in the key Emily rehearsed in. She’s really upset about it, and fears it might have just cost her a chance at advancing. If I were her, I wouldn’t crying, I’d be LIVID at the band. Then again, I would imagine they’re every bit as overworked and stressed as the contestants.

8:35 PM: We get a montage of girls who are up next, who’ve been fighting illnesses. Malie Delgado, in particular, hardly even has a voice to speak with, much less sing with, as her doctor has diagnosed her with laryngitis. Meanwhile, Mionne Destiny is on the verge of a panic attack, fearing that nothing but air will come out of her voice when she tries to sing later. Jessica Cabral is a little more optimistic, but that’s like being the tallest dwarf in King’s Landing.

MALIE DELGADO sings “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes, and I think she does a great job, considering the circumstances. It helps that she does a slowed down arrangement that keeps her from having to do any vocal gymnastics. In fact, I’d argue her pained voice helps the emotional message of the song, so that it comes out in a new way. If nothing else, Keith is impressed with the arrangement. That said, I wish J-Lo and Harry would have shut the hell up during the performance. There’s nothing ruder than talking through a contestant’s audition, and it’s even worse when they’re already straining to be heard, as it is.

MIONNE DESTINY sings “Chains” by Nick Jonas, and I don’t know what she was worried about. Her voice comes out crystal clear here, and her stage presence shines as well. I was really impressed with this, for as short a performance as it was.

JESSICA CABRAL then steals the show with her performance of “Up To the Mountain” by Patty Griffin. This girl HAS to make the Top 10. Her vocal control is impeccable, and her tone is just so silky and smooth. I loved this, you guys. I loved it so much.

8:43 PM: And now, we’re onto our final group of contestants before judges’ deliberations can begin…

FIFTH AND FINAL GROUP OF CONTESTANTS

JOSHUA WICKER sings “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, and this is an absolutely terrible song choice for him. That just doesn’t sound like a song he’d ever sing in a million years, which is why it’s such a shame that so few songs get cleared every season. That said, even if the vocal had been flawless, his performance style was weird and vaguely off-putting. Still, Harry goes to bat for him, telling Keith and J-Lo that he feels “there’s something soulful about this kid.” I mean, he’s not wrong. I just don’t know if things will change with a second chance.

CJ JOHNSON sings “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac, and it’s a bit shouty for my tastes. But he’s got charisma for days, and performs the hell out of the song. So even if I didn’t love the vocal, I thought it was pretty damn solid overall.

JENEVE ROSE MITCHELL sings “Danny’s Song” by Kenny Loggins, and while she’s definitely got talent, I just don’t get why the judges are gushing over her. Her voice is good, but I just didn’t love it. I’m torn, because I think she has potential, but I think she’s more of a personality than anything else.

DALTON RAPATTONI sings “Hopelessly Devoted to You” by Olivia Newton-John, and I’m actually stunned by how great this is. When it starts, he seems like he’s in a bit of a fugue state. His guitar isn’t on, he’s not really standing close enough to the mic, and he just looks lost. But then he starts playing, and he digs into the vocal, walking right up to J-Lo and singing it to her. When it’s all over, Dalton notes that he doesn’t remember a single thing about what he did up there, that it all went by in a blur.

8:50 PM: And that’s a wrap! The judges make their deliberations as the contestants anxiously wait to hear their fates. A producer comes in and starts sorting them into three separate groups, each of which will wait in three separate rooms. I’m getting nervous just watching this!

FINAL RESULTS

-Room 1 has Jordan Sasser, Dalton Rapattoni, Jessica Cabral, Lee Jean, Mackenzie Bourg, Stephany Negrete, Tristan McIntosh, Shelbie Z, La’Porsha Renae, and James VIII, just to name a few. This should tell you enough about the odds of this group advancing. Sure enough, the judges don’t waste time in telling these finalists they’re throw to the Showcase Round.

-Room 2 has Joshua Wicker, John Wayne Schulz, and a bunch of other people I don’t recognize. That’s another indicator of the likely result. Sure enough, Room 2 is cut, which means we’re saying goodbye to Joshua and John Wayne, among others. I really think the elimination of John Wayne Schulz will backfire on them.

-Room 3 has Trent Harmon, Jenn Blosil, Michelle Marie, Adam Lasher, Thomas Stringfellow, Manny Torres, Malie Delgado and Emily Brooke. Of course, they make it through to the next round. It says a lot about the talent this season that I have no idea whether Room 1 or Room 3 had the stronger crop of talent.

-And that’s a wrap, as 51 performers head into the Showcase Round, which is the final set of performances before the Final Judgment! Who will make the Top 24? Join us tomorrow night to find out! Until then, thanks for reading and hanging out!

GOODNIGHT!

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