After a lot of crying and a lot of craziness (and way more filler than any TV show should be allowed to contain), American Idol has made it to Hollywood Week! The judges seem happy about this development as well, gelling as a panel a bit more than during the audition process and getting into the idea of being authority figures to the young hopefuls placed in front of them. Steven Tyler frequently put on his glasses and gave himself a Serious Schoolmarm look while lecturing contestants on decorum; Jennifer Lopez stared down contestants intently; and Randy Jackson took on the Simon Cowell role of being The Real Talker. But it wasn't just the contestants who had to learn about the ins and outs of the show; the audience was also treated to a few lessons about just how this season of Idol is going to pan out.
1. It's not letting go of its favorites. Lauren "Next Kelly Clarkson" Alaina was more like Lauren Meh-laina on her performance of "Unchained Melody," but she made it through. James "Next Adam Lambert" Durbin forgot to realize that his hero managed to usually enunciate his words while soaring into his glass-shattering falsettos, but he made it through too.
2. Consistency is important. Scott McCreary, Jackie Wilson, and Jerome Bell all sang the same songs that they tossed off during auditions, and all three of them were among the 168 people to survive another day in Hollywood. Maybe the producers are hoping that being thrown off their game in the imminent group rounds will cause lots of rock-em sock-em action?
3. Attitude is also important. Tiffany Rios shook her star-enhanced ta-tas at Steven during the Jersey auditions and got a golden ticket as a result. She apparently wanted to be recognized for something different once she arrived on the west coast; before her audition, she announced, "I'm gonna be honest. I'm tired of seeing people try to do what I can." Whoa! Then she went into a torchy version of Etta James' "All I Could Do Was Cry" that was actually one of the best performances the night had to offer, and it was enough for her to move on to the next round. Sure, she'll probably bring quite a few fireworks to the proceedings when she has to actually work with other people, but I was pretty glad that she didn't get summarily dispatched merely because she showed off some ego before her performance.
4. Too much attitude, however, will result in you being shown the door. Boundlessly perky southerner Victoria Huggins sassed around the stage like a Jesus-assisted Miley Cyrus, complete with a huge smile and and a healthy twang and a voice that sounded preternaturally aged. Which was why her elimination was the most surprising of the night when it happened... although when Ryan Seacrest noted that she had brought some 11 pieces of luggage with her to California from North Carolina, it seemed like a bit of producer-occasioned backstabbing might have factored into her heave-ho.
5. It's not afraid to up the camp factor. How crazy to have the happy couple (Nick Fink and Jacqueline Dunford) room with the broken-up non-couple (Rob Bolin and Chelsee Oaks)! And how crazy to let the still-heartbroken Rob mug for the camera and sing a song about being so lonesome he could cry! (He sounded great, though, and is one of my favorite singers in the competition so far.)
6. It's also not afraid to mess up the camp factor in order to create drama. While Rob and Chelsee both made it through, Nick and Jacqueline were torn asunder, even though his monotonic version of Paolo Nutini's "New Shoes" was just as mediocre as her shouty, overbaked take on "Bring It On Home To Me." The forced breakup of the two did, however, bring the best moment of the night, when a distraught Nick, fresh off engaging in a shout-off with Randy, said to a blandly questioning Ryan, "Are you just washed out emotionally because you've been here for 10 years?" Ooooh, boy.
7. Hollywood Week is so, so, so much fun. Narratives that mean something to the competition! Competitors whose names we'll remember next week, during the big group round fights! It's a grand time to be an Idol fan, if only because we won't have to think about The Human Tornado until at least the end of May.