American Idol 2020 Episode 6 Recap: Brand New Genre Challenge Kicks Off Hollywood Week
This year, Hollywood Week has gotten a big revamp and it's already starting off with a shock for the singers. For the first time in Idol history, the judges saw all 167 contestants sing on the first day and will make cuts based on the genres they've chosen — Pop, Rock, R&B, Soul, Singer/Songwriter, or Country. This Genre Challenge, the first of several new rounds, essentially puts the singers head to head to head (almost like they'd be on the charts) so the judges can see if they can stand out against their talented counterparts.
Nerves are running high in the waiting room as the Singer/Songerwriters are the first group up to hear their fates. Julia Gargano is part of this group and chose to perform "The Joke" by Brandi Carlile for this round. She was nervous initially, as she didn't expect this category to be here, and believes she's essentially auditioning for the first time again.
Also in this group is Marna Michelle, who sings "Can't Help Falling In Love With You" a cappella, and Arthur Gunn (who's roommates with Alex Garrido aka Space Cowboy) who sang "Hard To Handle" by The Black Crows/Otis Redding. He gets hoots from the audience, a standing ovation, and a call for more by the judges. His performance reminded Lionel of Bob Marley.
Only Arthur, Julia, and Alyssa make it to the next round. A massive cut to start our with.
Next up is the largest pool — the Pop category. Everyone mingles, including early standouts Louis Knight and Francisco Martin. Louis chooses "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell for his performance. He's a bit nervous after, not knowing if it was good enough against so many very talented people but he hopes it is.
Margie Mays and Genavieve Linkowski, who are both experiencing Hollywood Week for the second time, also chatted with each other. Both are just as nervous as they were the first time through, with Genavieve adding that learning there were brand new rounds was a big part of it. She sings "You Are The Reason" by Calum Scott for her solo.
Robert Taylor is up next. Having touched Katy during his initial audition with his story of coming out and being accepted by his dad, but not much more of his family. But he's here on Idol and, before he starts to sing, he says some words about living his truth and how accepting yourself is truly beautiful. He sings "Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin. He got his fellow contestants on his feet, whooping and hollering by the end.
Before announcing the cuts, Lionel says that he, Luke, and Katy have heard "no" so many times before they made, but never let anyone talk you out of your dream. He calls Genavieve, Robert, Demi Rae, Louis, and Geena and two others to the front row —- they're all through.
Kay Genese, who was taken to sing for a crowd outside in order to make it here, is covered in flowers for her first day. She tells some contestants that she has a serene alter ego known as Honey Girl. She wants to channel that energy from that day to her performance today. Kay does "Ain't Nobody" by Chaka Khan and puts a lot into her presence, though ends on a bit of a sour note (literally). She hopes it was
Next up is Bilaal Avaz (19, North Haven, CT), who was not featured in the Audition episodes. His parents are from Pakistan. He was raised in a strict Muslin family and couldn't listen to music growing up. But now his parents fully support him and want him to succeed more than he wants to succeed. Bilaal picked "Stone Cold" by Demi Lovato and is really pleased with having so much support. After Bilaal comes Shannon Gibbons, who she grew up watching Idol with her family and remembers thinking she just needed one shot, singing "All I Want" by Kodaline.
Waiting in the wings and immediately next is 16-year-old Lauren Spencer-Smith. She had a video of her singing go viral (28 million views) and that's when it clicked that this is what she wanted to do. But she wants to show she's more than a viral video. Laura chose "Because Of You" by Kelly Clarkson and understands the judges are looking for something really special, but hopes she makes it to the next round.
Shannon, Bilaal, and Lauren are among those that make it to the next round. Kay, unfortunately, doesn't make it. While disappointed, she did the best she could do and carries her confidence in her ability to perform with her as she leaves.
17-year-old Cyniah Elise is featured next kicking off the R&B group, showcasing her family including the 30 members that accompanied her to during the initial audition. This time around she sings "All I Ask" by Adele and gets a standing ovation from judges and contestants alike.
Makayla Phillips, who is also 17, follows and chooses "And I Am Telling You" by Jennifer Holliday from Dreamgirls as her song. She gets some cheers from the audience of contestants as she closes it out with a series of impressive runs.
Just Sam is next and has brought her lucky box, that she uses on the train when she sings, to make her feel more comfortable. She's always wanted to come to LA to sing, even if just putting her box down by the stars on the Walk of Fame. It's her first time flying and she's very excited (and grateful and emotional) for this very momentous week. For Sam's whole life, her grandmother always believed that dreams don't come true for people like them but this is proof that it's possible. She performs "Hearts Ain't Gonna Lie" by Alissa as her genre piece. Lionel comes out first but all three judges put money in her box.
Katy reads off the results this time. She calls Just Sam, Mackayla, and Cyniah among others forward and says she doesn't think they're ready…to go home yet. An effective if stomach-lurching fake out.
Sophia Schuster is the first contestant featured from the next group of Singer/Songwriters. She sings "Teenager In Love" by Madison Beer and Adam Curry follows with his take on "Somebody Else" by The 1975. Lionel gives a tip to the waiting contestants in the audience to be themselves once it's their turn and do what they do — don't get in their head and start trying to copy someone who's went before them.
Speaking of nerves, Francisco is shown talking with Bobby about his initial audition. Francisco says that he usually doesn't get that nervous — his mind was fine but he's not sure what was going on with his body. Bobby advises that, since he can't will them away, he should just accept that he's like that and learn how to work with them. Francisco chose "Hold Back The River" by James Bay for this round and gets a standing ovation. Afterwards, he's happy that he got it done but feels like he could've done better.
The next set of contestants includes Jonny West, who's going through this experience with his girlfriend Margie May, and he also is running very high on nerves. He performs "Someone You Loved" by Lewis Capaldi with Margie watching in the wings backstage.
Dillon James comes out next. Before he sings, he recounts how he had become an addict. He mentions that he'd come to Los Angeles before to be an actor. He got quite a bit of work, including a Lifetime movie with Dolly Parton, but left and was able to find his was to sobriety and happiness. Dillon gets a standing ovation after that. He chose "Vienna" by Billy Joel for this round.
With this group all lined up to find out their fate, Lionel initially only called three people forward but then reveals everyone made it through to the next round.
Now that Jonny has made it through, what about Margie Mays? She sings "The Voice Within" by Christina Aguilera to keep off this group of Pop singers. She's excited for a second chance at proving herself and making it though Hollywood Week.
Another second-timer is up next - Nick Merico, who made it to Hollywood Week last year but dropped out before he got there for personal reasons. Lionel gave him a gut check to make sure he's got the proper attitude this time around when he auditioned to get his Golden Ticket. He sings "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" by Al Kooper. Nick thinks he could've done better but is good enough to get through to the next round.
17-year-old Kimmy Gabriela, who's father was a successful musician in his youth and had a great first audition (she was told she's Top 10 material), is a bit worried that the judges won't like her as much this time around. She does her version of "Say Something" by A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera. Her performance brings her father to tears and leaves a couple of the contestants open-mouthed with amazement.
It's Luke turn to reveal results. Nick, Kimmy, and Margie are among those moving to the next round.
Lauren Mascitti kicks off the next group of Country singers. She auditioned with her fiancé Shawn Camp, a professional songwriter, accompanying her but he hasn't come out for the Hollywood rounds. Lauren did bring her grandmother, who has always supported and encouraged her singing. She sings "Don't It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue" by Chrystal Gayle.
Hannah Prestridge follows, who auditioned with her husband as the group Treble Soul, and performs "Over You" by Miranda Lambert. She sang an original during her audition about her relationship and journey to sobriety. She wants to show her kids that you can fight and go achieve your dreams.
Next is Grace Leer, who believes being in a more classic wheelhouse of Country will help her stand out. She sings "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers and hopes the judges could really feel the emotions she was trying to impart.
Luke, who is a bit loopy now, gives some very complicated and confusing directions to everyone which, in the end, lets them know they're all through to the next round.
The final line of singers is up now - from the Soul category. Amber Fiedler, who was very pregnant when she auditioned, has since given birth and facilitated her daughter's adoption to her chosen family. She sings "Rise Up" by Andra Day, a fitting choice as she believes that her story will help a lot of people out there and the amount of light her child has already brought. She gets a standing ovation when she's done and says she left it all out on the stage.
Sophia Wackerman, who Katy suggested to take her professional singer mother's last name and become Sophia Star, is next singing "Let It Be" by The Beatles. As it was written by Paul McCartney in memory of his mother, she believes it's a fitting song choice for her. She brought a few contestants to tears. She felt her mother out on the stage with her.
Jovin Webb, who recently lost his father and is giving this his all with his son on his mind, sings "Make It Rain" by Ed Sheehan.
Untrained but naturally skilled garbageman Doug Kiker is also part of this group. In his initial audition, Luke played the piano and sang with him. Doug is mainly doing this for his daughter and is feeling more like who he's supposed to be in this process. He's very emotional on the lead up to singing and desperately wants the judges to give him a chance. He starts sings "Ain't To Proud To Beg" by The Temptations accidentally and stops. What he meant to sing was "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, which he does a cappella (with some clapping from the contestants to help). Luke notes that he has a hard time staying on key with Lionel responding that it's because there's no band so he can't tell.
Sophia, Amber, and Jovin are among those who make it through but Doug has been cut. He realizes he messed up, but he thinks he's done well for his first time and is grateful for the experience.
A lot of people got sent home but many early standouts are still in it. How will they react to the Group Challenge? Wait...will there even be a Group Challenge as we've known it? Join us next SUNDAY and MONDAY at 8|7c on ABC as the Hollywood Week surprises continue!