American Idol Season 14 is set to premiere January 7. After auditions this summer, an estimate of 200 + contestants from all across the country flew into Hollywood, California in October. They performed for the judges for the first time since being put through to Hollywood Week after their initial audition.
According to most contestants who have been through this process, this is the hardest part of the competition as every performance could be their last.
The judges for the season will once again be Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr.
LA Music Examiner was invited down to the theatre to get an exclusive look at the behind the scenes during the competitions group rounds. We got a look at various groups giving their all to the judges. We can not at this time give out the names of the contestants who made it through to the next rounds, but here is a glimpse of what we saw on our visit. Please note that there may be spoilers in the rest of this report.
The judges chemistry is still very strong. Lopez, who is seated in the middle of Urban and Connick, chatted with each other during the breaks.
The contestants sat watching from the audience until their group was announced to join the stage. Some groups used every area of the theater to rehearse from hallways to bathrooms.
The groups range from 3-5 people were lead to the stage, and they introduced their group name that they came up with. The groups were backed by two piano players.
The contestants sang to a song of their choice ranging about two to three minutes. Song choices once again this year appeared to be more current than in the past years during Hollywood Week. There were a few versions of “PYT (Pretty Young Thing)” by Michael Jackson and “With A Little A Help From My Friends” by The Beatles, Motown songs thrown in the mix, but the majority of songs we heard were very current release songs which included artists such as Bruno Mars, The Band Perry and Selena Gomez.
Group day was tense with a few missed lyrics, nervous contestants, a faint and some on and off notes. Urban asked most of the groups, what made them pick the songs. Lopez stated to a few that she liked the performance but felt that the song did not showcase their talents.
The elimination process then took place as the contestants were later called back on stage in their groups to hear their status. Connick, Lopez and Urban took turns addressing each group to tell them their fate. Connick told them all to remember that they all worked very hard for this and to never give up even if they get cut in this round. Certain contestants were called to step forward, the ones who did were either saved or sent home. The eliminations were tense as expected even including a “Chorus Line” moment when a contestant to step forward, then quickly was told “sorry that was a mistake, step back.”
By the end of the week, Hollywood round ended up with 48 contestants. In a show first, Hollywood Week has been split into two sessions. The remaining 48 contestants returned to Hollywood at the beginning of December for a showcase round. The contestants worked with Ricky Minor and the band and new mentor for the show Scott Borchetta the founder of “Big Machine Records.” The contestants did a final showcase for the judges on a Monday, and by Wednesday the Top 24 were chosen.
For more information on American Idol: www.americanidol.com