Idol chatter

Ah, American Idol's Hollywood week. Where the drama never stops ... And now with the final cuts tonight, we're down to our final 24 for Season 7.

Ryan Seacrest and Co. keep touting that "this is the most talented group we've had in Idol history!" But I'm not feeling it as much as I remember feeling it at the point last year -- although last year I was an Idol virgin so perhaps that's one reason I'm not as surprised or blown away by some of the auditions this year. And was it just me and Kates or did anyone else look at the finalists tonight and say "Who are some of these people!?!" Kates and I didn't miss an audtion and we swear some of the people that made it through never got an ounce of TV time in the previous episodes ...

Oh, but I do have a clear, cut and dried favorite: Brooke White. She's good-looking, so charming, wonderfully talented -- I was struck by her the moment she stepped up to audition in the first episode of the season, and no one has impressed me more since (which also might be a reason by I wasn't compelled to post anything about the other regional audition shows) ... So I was a little concerned when they showed a lot of her crying uncontrollably in the previews for tonight's episode. And it was hard to tell if she was upset that she hadn't made it through or just overcome with emotion. They could not possibly cut her!? I thought. Turns out, she was overwhelmed with nerves and she got through just fine.

As for our other favorites ...

How about the Janis-Joplin rocker chick Amada Overmyer. I've cringed every time this season someone tried to audition with a Janis song (Why, why! why!? would you try to show off your singing talent with a Janis Joplin song!?) -- and there have been many of them. But Overmyer impressed and she too charmed us. Then! we find out she survived a car crash a week before Hollywood Week (12 staples in her head!), and she does a great rendition of The Doors' "Light my Fire." ... She's got a soulful voice that's got big potential, but Simon was right about her downfall when he told her last night: With her voice you know what every song is going to sound like.

For the boys, I'm really, really intrigued by David Archuleta ... Yeah, so the kid's only 16 years old, which leaves him with a lot of growing up to do. But the kid's also a gem in the making. Dare I say, a voice as smooth as silk. He hooked me when he auditioned with "Waiting on the World to Change." Then his audition of "Heaven" was so good it made one of the background singers cry ...

And Michael Johns. The dude announces he's going to be singing "Bohemian Rhapsody." And I'm thinking, Dude. Seriously. No one can do that song justice but Queen. You're so gone. Then he goes and hammers it! Awesome.

And I sort of like David Cook -- my Blue Springs, Mo., home boy! -- who sang "Everything I Do," which kind of suited him (unlike a lot of the others who sang it -- like the Latino guy whose name I can't remember. His rendition was so awful, Simon said it reminded him of a resturant where someone picked up a guitar and murdered a Bryan Adams song. Actually, I was thinking of that classic scene in Christmas Story when the Japanese singers are trying to sing “Deck the Halls.”)

I'm also impressed with Danny Noriega (another young kid with a super voice ... but he's slightly creepy), David Hernandez ("Love the One You're With" ... Nice.), Irish girl Carly Smithson (who sang a powerful "How Do I Get You Alone"), and Syesha Mercado who charmed by fighting through her failing voice.

There were some others who we liked too, but didn't make it ...

Like Josiah Leming, the kid who hooked us in Atlanta with the back story about him living in his car (where the heck are his parents!?) … He's clearly talented and he totally had that Keane / Queen sound. His "Grace Kelly" was awesome… But the kid had clearly lost it when he came out last night, dismissed the band and did a wreckless "Stand By Me." I couldn't blame the judges for giving him a second chance, but when it came down to the final cut he was not ready ...

Kyle Ensley. How could you not love this guy in Dallas!? Loved his audition with "Somebody to Love." And his rendition of "You Raise Me Up" showed he has a great voice. ... But his "Loves Grows Where my Rosemary Goes" was totally corny. Kates and I mused he’s the star of the high school musical. He's the soloist in the church choir … but he’s not the next American Idol.

Then there was Amy Flynn, the perky 17-year-old dance captian from the Charleston auditions, who I thought had lots of potential … She's gone.

Suzanne Toon, the single mom with a compelling backstory … Gone.

Angelica Puente, our hometown girl … Gone

Angela Martin, who also had a compelling backstory … Gone

Alesha Stelzl, the girl who got through after learning Dolly Parton's "Islands In The Stream"... Gone. (Though this one's among the least surprising cuts ...)

And those crazy Lampkin kids -- who might have provided the most entertaining audition of the season … Gone.

But here's one we absolutely won't miss -- how about beauty queen Brooke Helvie. It didn't matter how awful she sang "Unchained Melody". … It was even worse that Paula nearly gave in and let her pass! Even after Brooke tried to be all cutesy and sing again ... Thank the lord the judges cut her loose. "I just wish I was give a fair chance like everyone else,” Brooke sobbed to the camera. Bull. See ya later Brookey.

Ah, good times. And it only gets more dramatic, more exciting and more intense from here folks.

Good reads, including EW's complete Idol coverage ...
a 'American Idol' gets down to 24
a Carly Smithson, an 'American Idol' singer with a major-label past
a Top 20 'Idol' Contestants of All Time
a Jan. 30, Miami auditions: Love Is Deaf
a Feb. 5, Atlanta auditions: Tales, You Win
a Feb. 6, Best of the Rest: Old Dog, New Tricks

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