It’s the beginning of a brand new Hollywood Week on the March 16 episode of ‘American Idol,’ as the contestants are separated by genre for the very first time, and the judges have to make some tough cuts.
It’s time for Hollywood Week on season 18 of American Idol, and things are different than ever before! This year, the judges watched ALL 150+ contestants sing in groups based on genre before making any eliminations, rather than eliminating based on just seeing the performances from the small groups like they did in previous years. The first group is the singers/songwriters, including Julia Gargano. She performs a powerful rendition of Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke,” which brings smiles to all three judges’ faces.
There’s also Marna Michele, who sings Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” as well as Arthur Gunn, who performs “Hard To Handle,” while also rocking out on his acoustic guitar. By the time Arthur finishes, the judges are begging for more, and Luke Bryan even joins in to sing with him. Julia and Arthur, along with one other singer, move onto the next round, but unfortunately, it’s the end of the road for Marna and several others, who are eliminated.
The next group is the pop genre, which is the biggest of them all. Louis Knight is one of the pop singers, and Katy Perry is swooning as soon as he takes the stage. Louis sings a stripped down version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and the judges agree that they wish he put more “fire” behind it. A returning contestant, Genavieve Linkowski, is also in the pop group, and so is Robert Taylor. Robert touched the judges with his story of being shunned because of his sexuality, and he brings that power again during Hollywood Week with his performance of “Natural Woman.” Genavieve and Robert both move on, along with three other singers from their genre.
Kay Genyse is up next with an upbeat performance of “Ain’t Nobody.” She almost didn’t make it to Hollywood Week, and only got through with help when people on the streets voted her through, so she has a lot to prove. Next, Bilaal Avaz, who grew up in a religious household where music was banned, performs “Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato. There’s also Shannon Gibbons, who sings “All I Want” by Kodaline. The judges are impressed from the first note. In this group, there’s also viral video star Lauren Spencer Smith, who belts out “Because Of You.” Bilaal, Shannon and Lauren are all selected to move on, but it’s the end of the road for Kay, who leaves in tears.
Cyniah Elise sings “All I Ask” by Adele, and Katy has a big smile on her face as she listens to the stunning performance. The judges all stand up to give her a standing ovation. In Cyniah’s R&B group is also Makayla Phillips, who belts out “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” and gets compared to Ariana Grande by the judges. There’s also Just Sam, who’s come a long way from singing for money on the trains. Sam sings “Hearts Ain’t Gonna Lie,” and has some of her fellow contestants in tears, while the judges bolt out of their seats to applaud her. Just Sam, Makayla and Cyniah, as well as two other R&B singers, are confirmed as the ones to move onto the next round from their group.
Francisco Martin was one of the most nervous singers to audition, but after positive remarks from the judges, he’s ready to give it a go again during Hollywood Week. He impresses once again with his performance of “Hold Back The River.” His singer/songwriter group also includes Johnny West, who is dating fellow (and returning) contestant, Margie Mays. Johnny combats his nerves to perform “Someone You Loved,” and he gets a standing ovation from Katy. Dillon James, a former drug addict, is up next to sing “Vienna” by Billy Joel, and he touches everyone with his story AND his performance. All three guys, and everyone else in their group, are moving onto Hollywood.
Now that Johnny is through, it’s Margie’s turn to audition in the pop group. She’s here for the second time, and stuns with her performance of “The Voice Within.” Another returning contestant, Nick Merico, is next. Nick auditioned last year and made it to Hollywood Week, but decided he wasn’t ready and backed out from going to L.A. This time around, he received tough love from the judges, but he’s prepared to prove that he’s ready to do this. He sings “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know,” and feels confident afterward. Kimmy Gabriela is also in this pop group, and she absolutely slays her performance of “Say Something.” Lionel Richie cannot wipe the smile off his face! Nick, Kimmy and Margie are the confirmed amongst the singers who will be moving on from their group.
Kicking things off for the country group is Lauren Mascitti, who sings a moving rendition of “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” Former addict, Hannah Prestige, who made it to Hollywood Week, while her husband, who also auditioned, didn’t, performs next. Several fellow contestants stand to applaud after her performance of Miranda Lambert’s “Over You,” and the judges can feel her emotion through the song. Next, Grace Leer belts out “Unchained Melody,” and brings an old-school country vibe to the stage. All three ladies, and everyone else in their group, will be moving on.
The soul group is next. Amber Fiedler, who was pregnant during auditions and had her baby (who she gave up for adoption) just three weeks before Hollywood Week, sings Andra Day’s “Rise Up.” It’s powerful and inspiring to everyone in the room. Also in Amber’s group is Sophia Wackerman, who performs “Let It Be,” while playing the piano. She dedicates it to her late mother, and it’s absolutely stunning. Jovin Webbb is also in the soul group, and he belts out “Make It Rain,” while garbage man Doug Kiker, whose audition went viral, sings “Ain’t No Mountain High.” Once again, he completely captivates everyone. Sophia, Amber and Jovin all make it through, but unfortunately, Doug won’t be moving past this round.