At the beginning of the show, following a recap of the audition week, host Ryan Seacrest appeared on a stage with the Hollywood round contestants: an apparently huge number! I don't know how many of them there were, but it looked like several hundred.
A montage showing them getting ready then led to the first round of singing. They would sing a capella any song of their choosing, with no feedback (except occasional outbursts) until they learned their fate.
Johnny Keyser was in the first batch. He proved, with a soulful, heartfelt rendition of "Dreamin" by Amos Lee, that he was not just a fluke. Right after him was the self-doubting Heejun Han, who was a little nasal as he sang "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?" But Jennifer Lopez turned to Steven Tyler and told him, "I love him." Johnny was asked to step forward, as was Heejun. They went through, along with a couple of others. Afterward, Heejun was still stressed about how everybody else is "too pretty."
Then we saw some more brief snippets of auditions, including Elise Testone, Baylie Brown and Hallie Day, who all made it through. [VIDEO OF JOHNNY, HEEJUN, AND OTHERS]
After the commercial break, a nervous, fidgety Jen Hirsh sang "Up to the Mountain" by Patty Griffin. She didn't seem overly nervous while she was singing. Lauren Gray was also in that group and wouldn't let Randy cut her off (perhaps because her eyes were closed and she couldn't see him waving). Both were put through.
Heather Youmans had more trouble, with her voice breaking. Sascha Julian also ran into trouble with "Chasing Pavements." Candice Russell was pretty tuneless and offered the excuse that she'd started her song too high. One of them was begging to sing more and was allowed only one note, which was shrieky. [VIDEO OF JEN, LAUREN, AND OTHERS]
Steve delivered a pep talk to the contestants, telling them he wanted "camaraderie gone astray." What?
Phil Phillips couldn't use his guitar during this round. He had a distinctly bluesy voice and actually sounded better than he had with his guitar, singing "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" by James Brown. Reed Grimm, who grew up in a musical family, sang "I've Got a Golden Ticket" from "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory," singing it as a very jazzy number with some scatting thrown in. He kind of talked at the end. Travis Orlando had been cut after round one from Hollywood week last year. He's the guy whose mom had abandoned the family and whose family is now living in poverty. He took it to church with his piece, giving it a gospel or soul feel. Philip and Reed both made it, and Travis was cut once more. Harsh.
Next was a montage of others going home, including Ramiro Garcia, who was born without ears, and golf course mechanic Wolf Hamlin, as well as Jenny Schick, who had kissed Steven at the end of her audition. [VIDEO OF PHIL, REED, AND TRAVIS]
At the end of day one, 68 people had been cut.
Adam Brock, a father of a young baby girl, was having trouble being away from his daughter. He sang "Walking in Memphis," which Jennifer had mentioned at his audition. His voice was captivating, even better than in his initial audition. Jim Carey's daughter, Jane, was also in this group and she sang "Looking Out My Back Door" by Credence Clearwater Revival. Her fresh country voice was pretty but unremarkable. Adam went through, but Jane was cut. They didn't show it on camera, but Jane said that her dad told her, when he heard the news, that he's heard no in his career, too, and that things worked out for him ultimately. [VIDEO OF ADAM AND JANE]
Following the break, we saw a montage of contestants begging for a second chance, even though they'd been told no.
David Leathers, the 17-year-old who looks 13, was flirting with the women who were auditioning. Shannon Magrane sang "Falling" by Alicia Keys. She kind of over-sang it, but it wasn't bad. David sang "Because You Love Me" by Celine Dion. His voice must not have really changed yet, because he still had that high upper range that is just beautiful.
Also auditioning in this group was the woman who has been caring for her boyfriend since his stroke, Jessica Phillips. She was controlled, like she'd been the first time, and she handled some impressive key changes (though she through in a "hey" and a "woo" or two). David, Shannon and Jessica all got through. [VIDEO OF DAVID, SHANNON, AND JESSICA]
Erika Van Pelt has a big country voice (and looked very country in a red plaid shirt and little black vest. Also in this group was Creighton Fraker, whose rendition of "Somebody to Love" kind of sounded like somebody on helium. Music teacher Aaron Marcellus performed, as well, and got a little carried away with some runs. They were all put through to the next round. [VIDEO OF ERIKA]
Lauren Mink, who works at a center for adults with disabilities, was in the next group. She sang "Alone" by Heart, which was kind of meh. Jeremy Rosado sang Luther Van Dross's "Superstar." It was weak on the high notes.
Symone Black was next, wearing a paisley tunic and two white flowers in her hair. She chose "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding. With her lateral lisp, it sounded like she was singing something else. Randy asked her why she chose that song, and she said it was because she wanted to reach out to an older audience. Then she stumbled and fell off the stage, and Jennifer said she thought she'd hit her head. Medics were called. The audience wouldn't find out until tomorrow what happened to Symone. Cliff hanger! [VIDEO OF LAUREN, JEREMY AND SYMONE]
In an episode otherwise lacking drama, a cliffhanger will suffice.