There weren't too many shocking moments when "American Idol" began its Hollywood round Thursday night.
Some of the contestants who'd already secured lots of air time advanced to the next phase of the competition. Among the advancing contestants:
*Chris Medina, whose fiancee was in a car accident that left her with a severe skull fracture, a traumatic brain injury and multiple fractures to her face
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*James Durbin, whose life challenges include Tourette syndrome and Asperger syndrome, among other things
*Lauren Alaina, the Georgia teenager whose cousin was diagnosed with a brain tumor three years ago
*Tiffany Rios, a singer who flaunted a bikini top during her initial audition
Who went home? We said goodbye to smiley gospel singer Victoria Huggins and former Miss Teen USA Stormi Henley. Nick Fink, part of the "power couple," was another noteworthy elimination.
Here's a full recap of the show:
Welcome to Hollywood! The first round is sudden death. Contestants enter the stage in groups of 10 and individually sing a cappella. If they do poorly, they go home.
First up: Brett Loewenstern. He's the high school outcast who looks like Budnick from "Salute Your Shorts." He sings a nice version of "Let It Be." We don't see many other contestants in his group. Brett advances, along with some girl named Symphony.
We get rapid-fire footage of successful Hollywood contestants: Rachel Zevita, Thia Megia and Casey Abrams.
Remember smiley Victoria Huggins? She's already a semi-popular gospel singer. Steven doesn't look too happy with her Hollywood performance. I'm right. She gets the boot in Hollywood.
Let's check in with Paris Tassin and James Durbin.
James is the Adam Lambert-type singer we saw Wednesday. His life challenges include Tourette syndrome and Asperger syndrome, among other things. Paris has a daughter with hearing problems.
I'm not too keen on Paris, especially since she sings "My Heart Will Go On." James' rendition of "Oh! Darling" isn't as fantastic as his initial audition, but it's still good.
More singers: Former Miss Teen USA Stormi Henley seems to struggle, while Lauren Alaina delivers a good rendition of "Unchained Melody."
James, Lauren and Paris advance. Stormi is eliminated.
Well hello, Chris Medina. Yes, you still have the saddest "American Idol" story ever.
In Hollywood, Chris sings a decent rendition of "You And I Both." It's enough to keep him in the competition. I love how "Fix You" plays in the background. It seems like Fox uses this on every reality competition.
Here's Hollie Cavanagh, Jacee Badeaux and Robbie Rosen. They all advance. I'm especially impressed with Hollie, who's gained quite a bit of confidence. Remember, she cried during her initial audition.
Steve Beghun, the CPA who auditioned in Milwaukee, gets rejected. Sarah Sellers, Jacquelyn Dupree, and Heidi Khzam also get the boot.
We have about 325 total contestants in Hollywood, without subtracting the eliminated ones.
Here's Rob Bolin and Chelsee Oaks, the ex-couple. I'll stick with my initial assessment: Chelsee is better than Rob. But they both advance.
Cue the "real" couple: Nick Fink and Jacqueline Dunford. Jacqueline's waaaay better than Nick. Predictably, Nick gets the boot. He begs for another chance. Um, yeah. That's not gonna happen. He sings on his way out of the auditorium and looks even more pathetic. I believe rumors that Nick and Jacqueline were never really dating.
Scotty McCreery sings the same song he performed for his initial audition. Jackie Wilson and Jerome Bell opt for a similar strategy. They all advance.
Spotlight on two more singers. First, there's Tiffany Rios, who had stars dangling from her, um, upper body assets during her initial audition. Tiffany delivers this line before singing: "I'm tired of seeing people try to do what I know I can." Conceited? Yes. But she has an OK voice.
Then, there's Travis Orlando, whose family has had some hard times. They lived in a shelter. He has a compelling back story, but his audition is shaky.
Travis gets eliminated, Tiffany advances. Ouch.
We get rapid-fire footage of other advancing singers: Clint Jun Gamboa, Julie Zorrilla, Naima Adedapo, Mark and Aaron Gutierrez, Molly DeWolf, Emily Anne Reed, Stefano Langone and Ashley Sullivan.
At the end of the episode, 168 singers remain in Hollywood.
Do you have a favorite contestant yet? Click here to peruse all the Hollywood singers.