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IDOL WATCH: Hollywood Round 1

 It's here! It's finally here! No more eccentric old men dressed as pirates. No more delusional teenagers convinced that they're not tone deaf. American Idol's Hollywood round has finally begun, and from this point forward performances are legit- for the most part.

In tonight's episode of American Idol, golden ticket holders from around the country gathered in Hollywood for the most testing trial in their journey to the Idol stage. And this was no ordinary Hollywood Round crowd. As Seacrest revealed at the beginning of the episode, double the people were invited to sing again for the judges compared to past seasons. And as the contestants quickly found out, extra people meant extra brutal cuts.

In traditional Idol fashion, contestants were broken up into groups of 10. Each person stepped forward and sang with no individual feedback from the judges. Then the lucky ones took a step forward into a separate line and were asked to stick around for round two. Every now and then though they pulled an A CHORUS LINE and kept the back line instead.

For the most part the show highlighted only the contestants that we've seen already. It kicked off with a second outstanding performance from Brett Loewenstead. This time the carrot-topped kid from the New Orleans auditions sang "Let It Be." It's hard not to love him.

He was followed by the memorable Victoria Huggins. The 16 year-old North Carolina native made it through because of her spunky personality the first time around, but her quirky charm wasn't enough to save her this time, as her rendition of 'My Hallelujah Song" fell flat and got her sent home.

The next set of ten included four familiar faces.  Paris Tassin  "My Heart Will Go On" gave Celine a run for her money. San Francisco stand out James Durbin sang "Oh! Darling" with the same gusto that he wowed the judges with last night. Early favorite Lauren Alaina showed off her impressive range and a high belty note when she sang "Unchained Melody." Only beauty queen Stormi Henley failed to impress the second time around. Oh well, I'm not heartbroken.

Next up was 15 year-old cutie Jacee Badeaux, who sang a gorgeous "God Bless the Broken Road." Robbie Rosen was just as stellar as he was when we last saw him at the New Jersey auditions. This time he showed off an impressive falsetto that left the judges awed.  Little Hollie Cavanagh took the judges' advice and got over her stage fright when she belted out a fierce "When I Look at You." Was that even the same girl? We'll be seeing all three from that group again.

Exes Rob Bolin and Chelsee Oaks from the Nashville auditions will get to spend more time with each other, as both made it through to Round Two. Couple Nick Fink and Jacqueline Dunford weren't as lucky however. When Fink's performance left him in the loser line, he begged the judges for a second chance to continue on with his girlfriend. When he was blatantly denied, he decided that the best course of action was to sing at the judges from the aisles of the theatre. It was rather pitiful.

Scotty McCreery, Jackie Wilson, and Jerome Bell stuck with what they did best and gave encore performances of their initial audition songs. I thought it was a bold move, and the judges clearly did too. They won't be able to pull that off again next time though!

At the end of the day, 168 contestants earned spots in next week's Hollywood Round Part 2. Don't forget to check in with BroadwayWorld's IDOL WATCH next Wednesday night when the contestants tackle group songs! American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8pm on Fox.

Miss last American Idol auditions in San Francisco last night? Click here for a full recap!

Emmy Award-winning AMERICAN IDOL is created and executive produced by Simon Fuller, Founder, 19 Entertainment , a division of CKX, Inc.; and executive-produced by Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO, FremantleMedia North America, Inc.; Ken Warwick, Executive Producer, FremantleMedia North America, Inc.; and Nigel Lythgoe, President, Big Red 2 Entertainment.

Among the many American Idol finalists and winners to appeared on the Broadway stage are Fantasia, Justin Guarini, Jordin Sparks, Diana DeGarmo, Ace Young, Tamyra Gray, Constantine Maroulis, Frenchie Davis, Clay Aiken and Taylor Hicks.

Visit for exclusive videos, interviews and photos, as well as special behind-the-scenes information and all of your AMERICAN IDOL news.


Photo Credit: Michael Becker / FOX.

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