Didi Benami opens the last part of "American Idol's" first Hollywood night with a great rendition of Kara's "Terrified." She could be on the radio right now. It's heartfelt, pitch-perfect, totally controlled and just spools out.
"I hate to admit it, but I really liked that song," says Simon. Gives her his highest compliment: "It sounded really current." Loves that she's normal, a waitress.
Crystal Bowersox, who gets a tattoo of her son's name in L.A. She sings "Natural Woman." It's husky and driving and draws yelps from the crowd. She's like a totally natural performer, the other contestants get into it, the judges do, too.
"You're infectious, people like you," Simon said.
Ninety-six people make it through. Tomorrow night -- group night! Below is who I like best out of Hollywood so far, on a night when Ellen DeGeneres made a pretty quiet debut.
It was like she's always been a judge, which is good or bad. She had a few good quips, but the problem is without Paula, nobody seems to have any chemistry with Simon, or anyone else for that matter . . . Maybe Ellen and Simon will develop it, or maybe she'll be too busy trying to show her value.
In which case the judges on "American Idol" are gonna be like four ships passing in the night, each on their own private stage.
1) Andrew Garcia's stripped-down, soulful "Straight Up" was one of the best things I've seen during the Hollywood round. Kara nailed it, calling it "genius" and comparing him to Adam Lambert. Andrew's a finals favorite right now.
2) Didi Benami could be on the radio right now with her version of 'Terrified." No need to say more.
3) Lilly Scott's old-fashioned "Lullaby Birdland" got the other contestants clapping -- "everything about you is refreshing; I really liked you, you're unique," Kara said.
4) Tim Urban, with the big hair and an earnestness to him, sang David Cook's "Come Back to Me" and surprises and impresses with his deep, world-weary voice.
5) Crystal Bowersox had the other contestants yelping with her rendition of "Natural Woman."
There's my top five. Here are the others, most of whom I also liked:
6) Haeley Vaughn is just 16, but she blows everyone away with "We'll Sing Hallelujah." Man, she has a voice.
7) Janell Wheeler is introduced to us in Hollywood. She has a great, natural tone on "American Boy." Looking forward to seeing more
8) Katie Stevens showed the great tone in her husky voice on "For Once in My Life." Simon said "actually, you're quite good," to which Katie excitedly responded, "Yes!"
9) Mary Powers rocks with "Sober." Ellen says "you have an amazing voice, and you were really in that song."
10) Michael Lynche, whose wife was in labor, obviously really wants it. He's a total pro.
11) Casey James, who totally looks different than in auditions when he took his shirt off, does some blues guitar; Randy really likes him. I may need some persuasion.
Who'd you like best out of Hollywood so far? Tell us by clicking on 'add a comment' below