American Idol Episodes

2002, TV Show

American Idol Episode: "Road to Hollywood"

Season 9, Episode 8
Episode Synopsis: The preliminary auditions conclude with a "Road to Hollywood" installment. Guest judges: Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Kristin Chenoweth, Joe Jonas, Neil Patrick Harris, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry and Shania Twain.
Original Air Date: Feb 3, 2010

American Idol Episode Recap: The Road to Hollywood Season 9, Episode 8

I'll give American Idol credit for one thing: The show knows how to admit its flaws. Tonight's mixed bag of auditions from all seven cities on the tour began with a reference to Gen. Larry Platt's "Pants on the Ground," and an acknowledgement that it's really the only Season 9 audition to take America by storm. However, Ryan Seacrest promises that the show has saved the best for last. Did the promise come true?

Based on the last three abysmal audition shows, I'd have to say it did. Or at least the producers decided for one night to focus on talented singers and put most of the sideshow acts in the background where  they belong. Am I convinced that we've seen anyone yet who is destined to be standing at the Kodak Theater on finale night? Not even close, but I am so thankful to begin the real whittling process during the Hollywood rounds, which kick off next week.

For now, some thoughts on what Idol likes to call the best of the rest:

THE GOOD

Jessica Furney," Footprints in the Sand "
After some opening remarks about perseverance and familiar faces returning to audition, Jessica dazzles the judges with her version of a song co-written by Simon Cowell. (Brown-noser!) Randy says she's really improved, and the way Victoria Beckham gushes over the song "embarrasses" Simon. Jessica makes it to Hollywood this time around.

Amanda Shectman, "Good Morning Heartache"
Her intro package shows her mimicking Britney Spears and doing silly voices with her mouth closed. So color me surprised when she has a decent voice. Her problem: She's way too dramatic, as her background is in theater. All of the judges tell he she has to work on losing her theatrical impulses, and Simon, giving his best soap-opera-actor version of being undecided, finally agrees to put her through. And she naturally gives an Emmy-worthy cry outside.

Lacey Brown, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
Another familiar face, Lacey was cut in favor of Megan Joy in Season 8. (Boy, I wish they hadn't!) She gives a nice performance and again earns a spot in Hollywood. Let's hope the judges keep her around longer this time.

The Sweet 16s
The show threw three very talented youngsters at us in one package with no backstory or any real back-and-forth with the judges in the audition room. But the few bars of each I heard, I really enjoyed, so I felt their names should at least get a mention. Rachel Hubbard ("Wrong Again"), Thaddeus Johnson ("How Am I Supposed to Live Without You") and Genesis Moore ("I Told You So") were all strong, though Thaddeus may have oversang just a bit. In any case, the show has a way of weeding out youngsters. So, best of luck to them.

Michael Lynch, "Unchained Melody"
Move over, Ruben Studdard, Idol has found a new teddy bear. Even though his intro package was about his weight training and his "big guns," his smooth performance of Simon's favorite song (save for a few too many vocal acrobatics toward the end) had Kara calling him a singing teddy bear. It may not stick though; shortly after, Ryan was back to his puns, noting that Michael had "muscled his way into Hollywood."

Didi Benami, "Hey Jude"
At  this point, Idol turned on the depression faucet, as the remainder of the good singers had sob stories. Didi's was perhaps the most touching, as she was singing in honor/memory of her best friend who inspired her to pursue music before dying four years ago. Her unique voice and interesting approach to the Beatles classic earned fairly unanimous praise, but they all agree she has potential to be more than what she was in the audition. Perhaps she'll prove them right in Hollywood.

Aaron Kelly, "The Climb"
When Aaron and his brother were in danger of being taken away from his biological parents by the authorities 15 years ago, his aunt and uncle adopted them so they could still know their family. Now 16, he seems very shy, but has a powerful voice when he sings. Randy thinks that makes him cooler and more endearing, and Simon believes a "lot of moms will like [him]." He gets four yeses.

Hope Johnson, "I Hope You Dance"
Hope has six siblings and recounts her childhood of poverty, which included her sneaking home food from school because her family often didn't have dinner. Most times, she says, she gave her food to her brother because "there's always tomorrow." Her positive attitude comes through in her singing, but so does her youth and lack of refinement that would come with a couple more years practice. Randy tells her to work on her phrasing, but they all agree she deserves a chance to grow in the next round.

THE BAD

Stephanie Fisher, "Fever"
She's auditioned six times before, but she believes this will be lucky No. 7, especially since Victoria Beckham is judging. (OMG, Stephanie is totally Posh's No. 1 fan!) She's predictably terrible, but claims it's because Victoria makes her nervous. When the judges say no, she asks them to give her a moment to "get un-nervous," but Simon says that will take until the 27th season of American Idol. Hey, she might still be trying when it rolls around.

Kimberly Bishop, "I Kissed a Girl"
She gets off to an awkward start by congratulating Randy on his weight loss. Then she sings the song I could live with never hearing again, all while pulling her own hair, and apparently raising her skirt high enough to be censored. Kara and Simon say she's a naughty girl, but she won't be continuing on. Simon does, however, suggest she would be fun on a date. Down, boy!

Shaddaii Harris, "Fallin'"
Her mom had a vision when she was pregnant that Shaddaii would grow up to be a great singer. She absolutely did not. In fact, she made one of the most-played songs of the last decade virtually unrecognizable. On a related note: Shaddaii's mom also had a vision of a day when I stop loathing Kara.

THE RIDICULOUS

Adrian Chandtchi, "Can't Help Falling in Love"
I don't generally like making fun of people who aren't my close friends and co-workers, but this guy was a huge ball of wacky. He's 6 feet, 8 inches, and is a swimmer who enjoys his many nicknames (Big Kahuna, Blondezilla). He describes himself as a beautiful man-flower that is going to blossom. Uh, well, he doesn't and Kara says he sings like he has "small schoolboy trapped inside you." "Or you've eaten one," Simon cracks.

Do you think the show saved the best for last? Are you excited for Ellen DeGeneres to join the show next week?

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I'll give American Idol credit for one thing: The show knows how to admit its flaws. Tonight's mixed bag of auditions from all seven cities on the tour began with a reference to Gen. Larry Platt's "Pants on the Ground," and an acknowledgement that it's really the only Season 9 audition to take America by storm. However, Ryan Seacrest promises that the show has saved the best for last. Did the promise come true? read more

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Premiered: June 11, 2002, on FOX
Rating: TV-PG
User Rating: (3,323 ratings)
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Premise: The smash reality series showcases wannabe pop stars competing for a record deal by crooning for a panel of judges, including, most entertainingly, the acid-tongued Simon Cowell, who departed the show in 2010 after serving for nine seasons. The judges review a performer's talent (or lack thereof), and at-home viewers then vote for their favorite potential star. The show helped launch the careers of such artists as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert.

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