Day 2 delivered the Hollywood Week "sing for your life" solos we're used to, with groups of 10 vying for a diminishing number of spots and screen time. I was a bit disappointed we didn't see any "new" people during this incredibly hectic rush of humanity, but I know how crazy that sounds. It's not like I didn't want to revisit the people we'd met already. I just wanted to see more. Basically, in an ideal world, we'd be able to watch every single GREAT audition for a hearty few seconds. In just two crammed telecasts, though, that's just not possible.
I'll run through some standouts: Majesty York, oh my God, yes. What better Hollywood Week song is there than Feist's "1234," which contains the lyric "teenage hopes align at your door"? And she did not mean hangar door. I love everything about this girl, most of all her gentle, optimistic demeanor, lack of makeup, and the gap between her two front teeth. Spencer Lloyd, one of seemingly dozens of worship leaders in the fleet, performed a tender keyboard cover of "Say Something" in a hoodie that looked like a vest. Austin Wolfe delivered my personal favorite vocal of the entire episode on Adele's "Take It All" -- there's an almost electronic second element to her voice that makes it really rich and multilayered, yet soft. I could listen to her for hours. Perhaps I will in the coming months.
Bria Anai switched to glittery orange lipstick this time around and delivered another powerhouse vocal, while Sam Woolf and his baby face and sculpted auburn hair are a teen-girl-moderated fan site waiting to happen. His cover of "Waiting on the World to Change" had Harry humming up the scales behind Jennifer Lopez's head in some sort of secret "this guy can sing" message to Keith Urban. (Do not bother the lady with such details.) And C.J. Harris is getting a major Likable Guy edit -- he was tonight's winner of the coveted Seacrest first-name shoutout and firm handshake before his group took the stage. J. Lo jumped the gun and gave what I believe was the only (shown) standing O of the day following C.J.'s cover of Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble." There's something about this guy, I tell ya. The excruciation in his face as he was singing made me light up in a smile. In what universe is that even possible?
I am never going to get through everyone at this rate. Alex Preston: cunning guitar picking, creative (and/or natural?) fluffy hair. Ben Briley and Dexter Roberts are solid country guys. I still can't stand Briston Marley (he covered "Royals") and I'm sorry; I'll try harder. Harry really seemed to respond to Rachel Rolleri's authenticity and Keith even started harmonizing with her, while J. Lo ugly-mouthed "Impossible" along with Maurice Townsend. Casey Thrasher, the other dad makin' this journey for his kids back home, captivated Keith in particular with his moving cover of George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today." I had to giggle because when Ryan said "both fathers hoping to make lives for those families back home," it sounded like he said "fodders." And maybe they are. But probably not. And ugh, can we stop being so melodramatic? The families of these two contestants don't "need lives." They are already alive. Some people have kids. The ones who don't want this shot at televised glory just as much. Let's not get crazy here.
Kenzie Hall was majorly memorable tonight with her rapid-fire spoken-word delivery (and more richness than I remembered when she used her fuller singing voice) on "Can't Hold Us." She's definitely in it to win it (agggggggh, Randy) with her Let Me Engage You Personally eye play with the judges and the rest of the audience.
I remember Caleb Johnson's red leather jacket first and his strong vocal second, but hey, not bad for an episode of hundreds of clips. Nurse tech Kristen O'Connor (the new "high school student Aaron Kelly"?) stood out vocally in this group and even got to keep singing on the right half of the screen as J. Lo called people forward. Jeweled hat fan Stephanie Hanvey yelled "I love you, mom!" after making it through, and I was like…
…because apparently I have no heart. Briana Oakley showed incredible range and excellent pants fashion -- I loved the sassy visible zipper. All the time spent dwelling on Keith London was bothersome -- it seemed like the editors were trying to make him seem like some sort of calculating hack just because he chose to sing "If I Were a Boy." Is this not 2014? Are we not allowed to swap pronouns? I really thought we'd covered this. The only "distracting" thing about his performance was the way Harry and Jennifer fussed over how STRANGE it was that this lad with a shag rug on his head was pretending he was Beyoncé. He wasn't. It's just a good song, okay?
NEXT PAGE: Group Night previews, featuring DRAMA