American Idol: Hollywood auditions, round 1

Last night's first Hollywood round of auditions on

American Idol

played like a rapid fire of hopes and dreams realized and shattered and realized and shattered, like an endless loop of Aerosmith songs -- at times, entertaining; at others, it dragged on.

Even so, the three judges, Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were all on top form for Hollywood. Though Tyler made a goofy face here and there, even his critiques, which sometimes played out like the tireless cheerleader during the nationwide auditions episodes, were on another level now that the competition was more serious and the stakes were higher.

Jackson brought his A-game too, asserting more authority and cutting off those who didn't deserve another second of stage time because their voices just didn't level up. Oddly, Lopez came across more apologetic in last night's first Hollywood round -- but, hey, somebody had to be the motherly figure, and it sure as hell wasn't going to be Tyler, despite what viewers may have anticipated, given his performance throughout the first round of auditions.

Though only 24 of the 309 contestants from last night made it to the next round of auditions, the Hollywood round saw a lot of memorable faces, even if they aren't going onwards. For one, Jane Carrey, even her father, the actor Jim Carrey, couldn't influence the judges' decision to send her home -- good for Jackson, Lopez and Tyler for seeing past the star power and making it only about the talent. In fact, that notion, judging purely on talent and not the back-story, may have been inconsistent with the initial audition rounds, now becoming the primary consideration for the judges of the biggest singing show on the planet.

Despite their back-stories, other memorable contestants followed Carrey's suit. Remember Travis Orlando, the unemployed eighteen-year-old who dropped out of school and whose mom walked out on his dad and left their family with nothing? Yeah... he didn't make it for the second year in a row. Ramiro Garcia from the Galveston auditions? You know, the guy who was born without ears and taught himself to sing? He went home, too. Tough break. But it was an even tougher, and possibly literal, break for Symone Black, sixteen, who, after singing "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay," collapsed and fell off the stage. Awkward.

Notables who were sent on: super tall sixteen-year-old Shannon Magrane; adorably smug seventeen-year-old David Leathers (who nailed a song by Celine Dion, of all people); Jessica Phillips, 26, whose fiancé suffered a stroke and lost his memory; Erika Van Pelt, 26, a blonde version of Kelly Clarkson; the music teacher Aaron Marcellus, 27; and Creight Fraker, 28, who was the only one so far in this season's Idol to nail "Somebody To Love" by Queen.

Nearly all of those who were given a significant amount of air time during the city auditions were pushed through to Hollywood. We'll see if that holds true for tonight's episode as well. American Idol airs at 7 p.m. on FOX 31.

Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music

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