As a lifelong fan of American Idol, you can imagine my delight when I recently got the opportunity to visit the set during Hollywood Week, arguably the most important stage of the competition so far (when contestants get whittled down from hundreds to the 24 who will be vying for America’s votes).
Not only did I get to visit during Hollywood Week, but I also got to visit on the iconic group performance day, when contestants can really make it or break it. Forgot the lyrics? Forget about it. Don’t get along with your group members? That can be a real recipe for disaster. The drama gets dialed up to 💯on group performance day, and I was able to be front and center for all of it.
When it comes to the group numbers during Hollywood Week, I have always been so curious to see how it all goes down. Do the contestants really only have one night to practice their songs? Do the judges really sit through every single performance and make their decisions right away? What does it sound like in the lobby when all the small groups are tucked away in different corners rehearsing their group numbers? Here is everything I witnessed and learned.
It’s loud in there!
Contestants really do only have one night and morning to rehearse their group numbers, so as you can imagine, the lobby of the Dolby Theatre the morning of the group performances was complete pandemonium. While some groups rehearsed their numbers over and over, some preferred to save their voices for the big performance and just sleep or silently memorize the lyrics.
The bathroom is a popular place to rehearse.
Not only are the acoustics amazing in there, but the bathroom is also a place where the contestants can rehearse their dance moves in front of a mirror and perfect their routines. I witnessed a whole lot of ladies werkin’ it in the restroom, and of course had to document it with the boomerang above.
Groups rehearse with a live band on stage before performing for the judges.
At this stage, some people were still forgetting their lyrics, which was stressful to watch, to be honest!
Once they’ve watched the performances, the judges decide who to cut fairly quickly.
The deliberations don’t last as long as I thought they did! After a few groups performed, judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan gathered around their judges’ podium for a few minutes to deliberate, and brought the previous groups back for a round of cuts immediately.
5. The judges have a great rapport.
They also had great input for the contestants, based on their own personal experiences in the music industry. I could tell that they had developed relationships with one another throughout their time as judges, along with their own individual judging styles.
6. You can really see the difference in confidence levels of groups who know their lyrics versus the ones that don’t.
The judges stressed this a ton, and you can really see why! It makes all the difference to confidently sing out your lyrics, or even to just make up fake ones if you don’t remember them! Anything’s better than mumbling or not singing.
7. Amidst rehearsals, contestants are also being shot for introduction sequences and confessionals.
I caught these two groups putting their game faces on for the cameras in between rehearsals and auditions. There’s a lot going on throughout the day, and don’t forget that contestants also have a big performance to focus on! I am truly impressed with all they are able to accomplish in just one day.