‘American Idol’: ‘Hollywood Week’ Brings ‘Genre Challenge’ & Judge Curveball (RECAP)

Spoiler Alert
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The American Idol hopefuls packed their bags and headed to “Hollywood Week.” It’s there they were greeted by familiar faces from the show’s 20-year history who served as mentors. Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Lauren Alaina, Ruben Studdard, Chayce Beckham, Lee DeWyze, and Haley Reinhart met with contestants who prepared to hit the stage for the “Genre Challenge.”

Each Idol hopeful was tasked to identify who they are as an artist, choosing from the indie-folk, pop, rock, R&B, soul, and country group. Then these talented singers choose a song to perform head-to-head. And those platinum ticket holders Jay, HunterGirl, and Kenedi Anderson got to scout their competition from the comfort of the balcony seats high above. Although that wasn’t the only purpose (more on that below).

Who impressed Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie enough to make it to the “Duets Challenge” round? Let’s unpack.


Kelsie Dolan

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Who better to mentor this group than 2011 Idol runner-up Lauren Alaina and reigning winner Chayce Beckham. Mike Parker started the proceedings on the right note with “Burning House” by Cam. Viewers may remember the 27-year-old carpenter was able to present the initial gold ticket to his mom, who continues to fight leukemia. Raleigh 23-year-old Kaylin Robertson also impressed judges with “Mercy” by Brett Young. Olivia Faye and Sarahbeth Taite followed suit.

Alaina was in tears watching back Kelsea Dolan’s audition. The Boone County, West Virginia 18-year-old had never really sung in front of an audience. She was visibly shaking walking to the microphone, but those nerves melted away while performing “Things A Man Oughta Know” by Lainey Wilson The group were all sent through as were teens Ryleigh Madison and Noah Thompson. It was nice to see Beckham on the Idol stage performing and showing the audience what their future might be.



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The 2003 winner Ruben Studdard gave this group some valuable tips. First up was Zaréh, daughter of Idol alum Nadia Turner. She had challenges early on following along with the piano. Tobias, 26, did a little better performing “Back at One” by Brian McKnight. Homeless support facilitator Katyrah Love, 23, channeled her inner Whitney on “Saving All My Love For You.” Katyrah and Tobias will live to fight another day while this turned out to be the end of the road for Zaréh.



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The 2010 winner Lee DeWyze helped the quirky oddballs of the competition. Leah Marlene started things off for the group with a cool cover of Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi.” Fritz Hager III was determined to win over Luke this time around with “Unsteady” by the X Ambassadors. The two were among those chosen to continue on in “Hollywood Week.”



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Haley Reinhart from season 10 brought some uplifting words to the crew. Danielle Finn thought about her grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s disease while singing “Easy on Me” by Adele. She received a standing ovation. New Yorker Christian Guardino worked to shake off the nerves for his performance of “My Future” by Billie Eilish. Their efforts were enough to make it to the next round.

Later, Kevin Gullage brought the energy to the tired judges after a long day. Small town girl Cadence Baker shined singing a little Tori Kelly while fellow teen Tristen Gressett pulled out some James Brown. The trio did enough to stay in the competition.


Cole Hallman

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David Cook was a welcome sight to contestants like Cole Hallman. The 22-year-old told the 2008 Idol winner that it was his song that made it on his iPod as a kid. He took it old school with “Vienna” by Billy Joel. The Manasquan, New Jersey surf shop associates received another yes from the judges.



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Many of the pop representatives were still in their high school years. Something guest mentor Jordin Sparks knows something about, winning the competition in 2007 at 17. The same age as Morgan Gruber, who did well with her audition. Emyrson Flora, 16, from Cleveland was looking to turn heads on her rendition of Adele’s “Love In The Dark.” They both were sent through.

The twentysomethings were next with Sir Blayke, 28, showing his “True Colors” with the Cyndi Lauper hit. Ava Maybee, 20, proved more than just the daughter of Red Hot Chilli Peppers drummer Chad Smith. She sang “Roxanne” by The Police. Sam Finelli, 28, inspired viewers with his initial audition. Unfortunately, he was sent home while Sir Blayke and Aav moved on to the next round.

The last line of performers for the day included Jacob Moran, Douglas Mills Jr., Danielle Clavell, and Nicolina. It was Nicolina of Toronto who gave a powerful rendition of Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish that left everyone in the theater on their feet. The entire row made it.

The Curveball

Platinum Winners

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The platinum ticket holders ended up teaming up singing “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey. Katy then mentioned how life was all about curveballs. The judges then explained that the duet portion will see them pick the partners. Well, not all of them. The platinums actually get first dibs on choosing who they want to duet with in the next round This was the real reason why they were there watching. Well played Idol, but who will they select?

American Idol, Sundays and Mondays, 8/7c, ABC