American Idol

Idol Chatter’s favorites from Night 1 in Hollywood


American Idol kicked off Hollywood Week during Monday night’s episode and used the show to reintroduce us to top contestants we met during the auditions.

It’s tough to determine much from the first round. There are too many contestants; we see only snippets of the performances Idol wants us to see.

In a nice touch, the show brought back seven former standouts to mentor the contestants as part of its 20th season celebration.

Those included former champs Chayce Beckham, Ruben Studdard, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Lee DeWyze and former standouts Haley Reinhart and Lauren Alaina.

Idol seems to have invited a smaller group to Hollywood for Season 20.

And for the first time ever, three Platinum ticket winners — Jay Copeland, Huntergirl and Kenedi Anderson — got to sit out the first round because their auditions were so impressive.

Here are my favorites from Monday’s show.

Country: Mike Parker, a former high school football star, turned in one of the night’s best performances singing Cam’s “Burning House.”

Olivia Faye was superb as well on “If It Hadn’t Been for Love.” And where has Idol been hiding Sarahbeth Taite. I could listen to that lovely voice all day.

Indie-folk: Leah Marlene, the self-described “weirdo from Normal, Illinois,” was outstanding putting her own spin on Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi.”

Pop: Morgan Gruber, 17, from Fombell, Pa., was one of my favorites from the fifth audition episode. And she turned in my favorite pop performance on Monday’s show. I wanted to hear more.

Nicolina Bozzo got to close the show with another impressive, impassioned vocal, singing “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish.

Emyrson Flora, just 16, wasn’t far behind with her passionate performance of Adele’s “Love in the Dark.”

R&B: My clear favorite among the R&B singers we heard was Katyrah Love, 23, of Baltimore, who sounded splended on “Saving All My Love for You.”

This group also featured one of the night’s more surprising eliminations: Zareh, daughter for former Idol standout Nadia Turner. Come on, Idol, she sounded better than several singers who survived.

Rock: Sorry, no one makes this list.

Soul: Kevin Gullage fronts a blues band in New Orleans, and his experience certainly showed in a self-assured performance that was easily the best we saw from the soul group.

More surprising, was how self-assured 17-year-old Danielle Finn sounded performing “Easy on Me.” She showed off great range too.

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