‘Idol’ Season 13 Hollywood Week, Part 1: Another One Rides the Bus
The judges conspire to send 32 Hollywood Week contestants home right away [photo: Fox]
Oh, if only someone on "American Idol" had covered Weird Al Yankovic's "Another One Rides the Bus" this Wednesday. Because contestants were riding buses, literally, and getting thrown under them, metaphorically, for the entire two hours.
Yep, it must be Hollywood Week!
But this was not your typical "Idol" Hollywood Week. Oh, no. Ryan Seacrest's smirking warning — "If you think you know Hollywood Week, think again" — was the first hit-you-over-the-head clue of that. The second clue? When this season's 212 golden-ticket-holders disembarked at LAX, and their chartered bus transported them not to some glamorous reality-TV McMansion, not to the Dolby Theatre, but to an ominous airplane hangar in an industrial wasteland that didn't look like Hollywood at all.
Yes, people, it was time for another "shocking twist." And I'm not talking about the first televised appearance of judge Keith Urban's ill-advised new haircut — although that was plenty shocking, because it had me thinking for a minute that'd I'd accidentally tuned in to a rerun of "Jon & Kate Plus 8."
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You see, it was time for the new "Hollywood or Home" round, in which dozens of on-the-cusp contestants (mostly ones that Harry Connick Jr. hadn't liked during the initial audition rounds) would have to sing on the spot for the chance to stay. At the end of the day, some of them would board Bus #1 (a bus headed straight back to LAX), while the ones who managed to impress would happily hop on the Hollywood-bound Bus #2.
"It has to be a knockout. If you screw this up, it's over," Harry announced, as the idling buses' engines hummed in the parking lot. No pressure, then…
One by one, 52 of the 212 contestants performed, some too spooked by the situation to even steady their hands while playing their ubiquitous guitars. And many of them were unable to change Hatchet Harry's mind. Johnny Newcomb, the 17-year-old Eddie Vedder wannabe, did a not-very-special "Pumped Up Kicks" that had Harry grunting, "I don't feel like I want to see that." Hippie Adam Roth's "Radioactive" made Harry hiss, "Come on, how hard is it to do those chord changes?" (Side note: Adam's lack of impeccable musicianship didn't seem to bother Jennifer Lopez much, of course.) Caitlin Johnson's shouty, stagefright-stricken "Only Girl in the World" had Harry shaking his head and grumbling, "I don't know what we saw in her." But Caitlin wasn't the only girl in "Idol's" world who got blasted by Harry: Morgan Deplitch, the 15-year-old who'd freaked him out with her age-inappropriately sexy Grace Potter song choice at her Boston audition, was called "extraordinarily weak" by Harry this time, after her shrill cover of Sara Bareilles's "Brave" had none of the judges saying, "Ooh la la."