On American Idol this week, it was time for the Hollywood auditions, where those who were selected during the open auditions sought to prove they deserved to go on. This process whittled them down to the 24 semifinalists on whom America will vote.
Copyright 2008, Fox Broadcasting
The process was a little different this year. They didn't require contestants to perform in groups, and they didn't cut people as quickly as they had in prior years. Instead, during the first initial auditions, they were separated into two groups: one of whom were guaranteed to move on to the next round, and another group who needed some work.
The second-chancers got another opportunity to shine before they were either cut or moved on to the final round. At this stage, they could play an instrument, if they liked.
In their final test, they chose a song from a list given to them and rehearsed it with a band. This was truly the make-it-or-break-it moment. Where some rose to the challenge, others fell horribly short. One of the latter was a contestant who'd seemed to have a lot of promise, a young singer-songwriter who'd been living out of his car. But he had a lot of trouble working with the band, getting them to understand what he wanted, and they never got entirely through the song.
When he ran into the vocal coach later, she told him he'd be welcome to come back with his guitar and work something out with them. Instead, he went to bed, unrehearsed. The next day, instead of making a go of it with the band, he dismissed them and sang a cappella. Unfortunately, the result wasn't great, so he sealed his own doom, as judge Simon Cowell said, undone by over confidence.
There were some other people who made it through that I might have predicted would do so, such as the biker nurse with the rock star hair, Amanda Overmyer. (There always has to be one chick with dyed hair, after all.) It remains to be seen how she'll do in this competition. She has a very distinctive singing style, kind of '60s blues rock, and I don't know if that will fly in this competition. It depends on how adaptable she is.
I was also pleased to see Carly Smithson advance to the semifinals. She's the woman with the tattoo sleeve who I feel has a lot of potential.
Some other people they'd been following didn't make it. For example, none of the three single parents whose stories they'd highlighted made it through. Neither did the aspiring politician with the bright smile, although in this case, Simon registered a vocal protest, telling him that he'd have liked to advance him but was outvoted by judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.
A number of strong vocalists are numbered in the 24, chief among them Syesha Mercado, who was battling a terrible cold that all but destroyed her voice. This hurt her in the first round of the competition, but in further rounds, she played it safe, not talking in order to save her voice. This made the difference so that she could show her potential. This sort of problem has happened to other contestants in the past, and that sort of determination and drive is usually rewarded, if the potential is there.
It looks like this will be a good competition. Of course, it's so hard to tell at an early stage who's going to shine and who will go home within the first weeks. Next week, we'll get our first chance to judge for ourselves.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that I was going to stop paying so much attention to the scale and concentrate, instead, on how my clothes fit and how I'm doing in terms of measurements. Strangely, as soon as I decided that, things turned around for me in terms of the scale. So now, I'm back to where I was before I had a couple of really bad weeks. I can officially say I'm back on track.
For this, I primarily credit the techniques I learned from Brian Wansink's Mindless Eating, which helped me identify some bad habits. For example, I've curtailed my random snacking habits, because a handful of something here and there can truly add up.
Also, I know that when I visit my dad, our shared bad habit has been snacking in front of the television. So when we watched Evan Almighty, although I went into the kitchen a couple times for a glass of water, spying a container of peanuts on the counter, I didn't reach in for a handful or, even worse, bring the container out to the living room to share. In the past, I would have found it hard to resist.
Little changes like these can make a huge difference, as the book attests and as I'm beginning to discover.
I'm still concentrating primarily on my measurements, where I'm also seeing good results, and I'm overall very optimistic about reaching my goals.
Don't dismiss the band unless you know your a cappella version rocks.