Hollywood Week is in the book and 68 contestants remain on American Idol.  And those 68 are now off to Las Vegas, the site of a new Idol twist which requires them to sing for their lives again!  Next week, they'll take on the songs of The Beatles . . . then face what our Idol expert Steve Thompson calls "The Green Mile" episode, where the remaining hopefuls walk down the dreaded hallway, sit before the judges and hear "You made it!" or "Thanks for devoting the last three months to Idol, but see ya!"  So, who's gonna make the cut?  Steve has an idea . . .

From Steve Thompson:  It's interesting to me how the singers that go off track are (so far) more the exception than the norm this year.  Even the ones that are a bit lackluster sound better than the usual contestants.

Haley Reinhart has a very cool voice on "God Bless the Child."  She has an earthy gruffness that seems well suited to her choice of song.  First time she's ever seemed memorable to me.   

Ashton Jones sounded good to me on last night's show, but I never expected to like her take on "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."  First-- not a huge fan of the song; yet, Ashton made me rethink my opinion.  One to watch.

Thia Megia was once a contestant on America's Got Talent...  Which might be the reason she seems way professional for a fifteen year old.  Her version of "Wonderful World" sounded flawless.

Next, we have three who commit the cardinal sin of messing up their songs...  Adrian Michael, Caleb Johnson, and Frances Coontz.  Nothing really memorable except if you mess up "Hey Soul Sister" it sounds only marginally worse than the original song.

FOX wants you to remember to watch Fringe Friday night. 

Evidently, many singers had Georgia on their collective minds.  Clint Gamboa apparently decided to shout his version.  If you ask me, he should have already left the show.  Kendra Chantelle has a wonderful voice and her take on the Georgia state song makes me forget how bad Clint's take was.  Sophia Shorel was living in the in-betweens.  Not as bad as Clint nor as good as Kendra.

Who knew we'd hear more Bobby Brown than Whitney Houston tonight? Two different versions of "My Prerogative."  Chris Medina approached it acoustically and Carson Higgins was over the top.  For this song, over the top might have been the better choice.

This was the first time in Hollywood for instruments.  Julie Zorrilla had a nice version of "Love Song" on piano.  Other folks with pleasant outcomes included Caleb Hawley, Colton Dixon, Brett Lowenstern, and Robbie Rosen.

Casey Abrams.  In the immortal words of Jorge Garcia: "Dude!"  Playing a stand-up bass and putting a great spin on "Georgia on My Mind."  Very impressive.

Jacqueline Dunford is done for after dropping out due to illness.  Chelsee Oaks is done for because she doesn't sing like Kelly or Reba-- leaving "Because of You"to fail because of her.

Lauren "The Anointed One" Alaina sings "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" again.  Zzzzzzzz.

Jacob Lusk had an impressive debut last night in the group song-- but who knew his version of "God Bless the Child" would be so jaw-droppingly entertaining?  It's a great song to begin with-- but with that kind of ability he literally took the song to an ethereal level.

John Wayne Schultz came out of exile (or so it seemed) to deliver a perfect take on "Landslide."  I can't recall a guy singing that song in competition before and thought he did a remarkable job with it.

Ashley Sullivan completely went off track with her version of the song "Everything."  She's a bit like a trainwreck waiting to happen on a good day.

Jovanny Barretto and Jacee Baadeaux both sang well enough to be spared again.  Nothing special-- just a casual observation.

Scotty McCreary bombed with his take on "I Hope You Dance."  Somewhere, Lee Ann Womack was not happy.

Well, after whittling down the singers from 100 to 68, we're off to Vegas where the remaining contestants have to sing Beatles songs.  Wonder how many of the remaining 68 ever heard of the Beatles?

We'll see next Wednesday. 

 @February 17, 2011  Stephen W Thompson