Here’s the thing about Hollywood Week. When you watch the audition process, you go through a state of denial. “I’m not addicted to ‘American Idol.’ I just like to watch a bunch of losers try to sing Celine Dion because it makes me feel better about my life” or, more succinctly, “Why am I watching this crap?

Here’s the thing about Hollywood Week. When you watch the audition process, you go through a state of denial. “I’m not addicted to ‘American Idol.’ I just like to watch a bunch of losers try to sing Celine Dion because it makes me feel better about my life” or, more succinctly, “Why am I watching this crap?”

Then, you get sucked in to Hollywood Week, and that’s when you stop laughing at the folks and you start rooting for your favorites. This is the part of the show that sinks its hooks into you and drags you through the remaining season secretly hoping that Country Western girl, car-living boy, or girl whose dad died go on to win. The show moves from compulsion to obsession to addiction. Next thing you know, you can’t even just get high off the show anymore, you just need to watch it to feel normal. Like crack, but less socially acceptable in most circles.

This year Hollywood week had a whole new playbook. First off, the contestants can play instruments in round 1, which worked for some and against others. No group singing, which always seemed unfair anyway — would you want your fate partially decided by people with marginal talent who stay up and party all night? Also there’s no Room of Doom” where they eliminate 30 or more people at a time. This time, you sing and if get two out of three judges saying “yes,” you get to enjoy the hotel pool and room service for the next two days. If you get a “no,” you have to work your ass off the next day in a second attempt to stay. The third day is a bloodbath. Contestants come out 10 at a time, each sing a capella and then a lucky few move on, but most go home. On the second day you even get a band and backup singers. Somehow even with second and sometimes third chances some of these entitled brats still found a way to say that they were being treated unfairly.

Before we move on we gotta ask — what has Seacrest done to his eyes? Seriously. Dude looked weird. Second, why did so many of the contestants have blue tongues? It made the hopefuls look like they were part Chow-Chow. I’m really surprised the producers dropped the ball and missed out on an opportunity for product placement on the blue lozenges or icees or whatever it was they were giving the kids backstage.

Also why all the Bryan Adams? Really, producers WHY? When Simon told one boy it was as if “a waiter picked up a guitar and started murdering Bryan Adams” it got me wishing — if only that scenario had really happened, you know, before Bryan Adams wrote all those awful songs.

So we see a bunch of good singers, then a bunch of bad singers, then some singers who rock while playing instruments then some who should never be allowed near a keyboard or drum kit again. And then a terrifying promo to the local news station’s interview with Clay Aiken, who is starting to look like an old woman.

And then it happened, the best moment in Idol history. Ever. Really. While perky, annoying Miss South Florida Fair Brooke Helvie gave an awful, awful performance of “Unchained Melody,” Simon, with an evil twinkle in his eye, gave Barbie a go-thru, forcing Paula to shoot her down. That’s right, Paula said no. What the hell is going on here? It’s the first thing Paula’s done in her life that I approve of. And it’s the second time this season that Paula made a coherent and wise decision. It looks like the former Mrs. Estevez finally hit that right combo of whatever it is she’s taking. She should really write that one down.

And in the second best “Idol” moment ever, abstinence freedom fighter Amy Flynn gets booted after a soulless performance while hitting several bad notes. See, ladies? This is why it’s important to toe the line of “bad girl” every now and then. At least a little life experience won’t leave you dead behind the eyes. Also, don’t utilize as your voice coach a former contestant who never made if past the Hollywood round.

The “Idol” gods are truly smiling upon me and Erin today.

They were also smiling upon Josiah Leming, who rocked the first cut, but couldn’t get the band to bend to his will in the second round. When he took to the stage he dismissed them and tried his hand at “Stand By Me,” and sucked so bad it created a vortex in the Fox studio that caused the judges to give him a pass.

The thing with this kid is that he is in a win-win situation. Once you live in your car, there is no bottom to hit. One to two things are gonna happen:

1. He will do well enough on “Idol” to get a contract.

2. He will do well enough on “Idol” to get a place to stay. He can milk his tragic backstory to score at least a year of couch-surfing from sympathetic viewers.

(P.S. from Kathy: I just gotta get this off my chest. I know I’m in the minority here but I can’t stand Josiah. I don’t want him to do well. I am easily irritated by people who don’t have a firm grasp on the cause-effect aspect of life. Josiah dropped out of school; thus he lives in his car. Josiah lives in his car; thus he is lonely and has no friends. Josiah refused to listen to the vocal coach or find a way to work with the band; thus his audition sucked. Josiah thinks he is more talented than he actually is; thus he doesn’t think anyone can teach him anything. See how this works Josiah?)

Anway, last night the field was culled from 164 to 50 as we also say goodbye to:

  • Single parents Angela, Perrie and Suzanne.

  • Ghaleb Emaceh whose kissing bandit act was even creepier in Hollywood. I couldn’t tell whether Paula was fighting back tears or stifling a belch after he got kicked off.

  • Cute brother/sister act the Lampkins

  • Kayla Hatfield, the perky girl scarred from a car accident

  • Anglica Puente, with the terrible “strict” dad.

Favorites (Erin):

  • The David kid from San Diego did a sultry version of “Love the One Your With” that was awesome.

  • Rocker nurse Amanda, who I am pretty sure I recognize from an episode of “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” channeled Joplin once again in “Light My Fire” and got a go from the judges.

  • Up With People spokesperson Syesha Mercado, who fought off a head cold that made her sound like a late-in-life Kathleen Turner.

  • Michael Johns, the best thing to come out of Australia since koalas. Honestly, I kind of hope he doesn’t do well. Finding him drunk and depressed in a bar after he’s been cut will greatly improve my chances with him

Favorites (Kathy):

  • Brooke White, the G-rated Carole King-type singer who I only sort of liked in the audition rounds and now I love.

  • Asia’h Epperson, who seems to be coping well after her dad died unexpectedly right before her audtion. I love this girl.

  • Michael “Mr. Erin” Johns. Anyone who can rock “Bohemian Rhapsody” is OK in my book. Don’t worry Erin, I will just love him from afar.

  • Carly Smithson, the tattooed ball of fire from Ireland

Honorable mentions (Kathy):

  • Kyle Ensley the wannabe politician, who is destined to undergo the most drastic makeover once the stylists step in.

  • Youngsters David Hernandez, Danny Noriega and David Archuletta, who at this point are all interchangeable for me.

Honorable mentions (Erin):

Agree with Kathy on this one. All of the yougsters were super cute with their big anime eyes, super cool haircuts and great singing voices. They were like a cross between puppies and Urban Outfitter clerks.

Those who I liked before but found disappointing in Hollywood (Kathy):

  • Amanda Overmyer — Love her personality but she needs to tone down the Janis schtick.

  • Kristy Lee Cook — The Oregon cage fighter kind of lost her sparkle for me. Still, I wish her well.

Those who I liked before but found disappointing in Hollywood (Erin):

Sorry, Josiah. You were so yummy before you got to Hollywood, but then you went Hollywood. Never dismiss the band. They know what they are doing whe
n you clearly don’t. I’ll still be rooting for you, but you are just not as shiny as before

Erin, did you see the big gals Corliss and Brittany? Did they make it through? Gosh, I hope so…

Kath, I have no idea. And what happened to fingernails guy? Or Dolly Parton chick? Readers, help us out here. If you’ve seen them, give us a holler. We’re worried.

Tonight we go from 50 to 24. There won’t be any singing but there will be lots of crying. Good times!

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'American Idol': You had us at Hollywood

Fox, Tues., Feb. 12, 8 p.m.

Production

Taped in Los Angeles by 19 Prods. Executive producers, Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller; director, Bruce Gowers.

Crew

RUNNING TIME: 2 HOURS
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