Thursday, February 14, 2013

Al Recap: Ladies Get 'Psycho' During Hollywood Week

Photo: Fox
Adam Graham/MTV

"American Idol" Hollywood Week is all about big, combustible personalities shining bright or crashing to the ground. Wednesday night's show did not disappoint and quickly became an episode of the Kez Ban Show.

Viewers were introduced to Ban during this year's Chicago auditions, when the memorably loopy street performer from Durham, North Carolina, earned a Golden Ticket to Hollywood. Ban, 27, was one of 162 female contestants who made it through to Hollywood, and she survived an early cut of solo performers Wednesday that brought the field down to a more manageable 76.

Those 76 were placed into 19 groups, hand-picked by producers. Ban quickly stood out in her foursome, arguing she only wanted to sing "California Dreamin'" because she wanted to do a song with "substance" and that was "meaningful," rather than (cue Ban's impression of current pop songs), "I got money and I'm in my car," which she punctuated by pantomiming the act of vomiting. Eventually, her groupmates were able to talk her into performing the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," which she agreed to do because she said she believed in the song's lyrics.

Getting her to practice was another story — Ban was concerned about getting a meal and a decent night's rest — as her groupmates struggled to keep her on task. Ban's quirkiness and eccentricities made her the ideal Hollywood Week contestant, and her sideshow anchored the episode.

While Ban's drama unfolded, several other storylines took shape. Early standout Candice Glover — with magnificent purple highlights in her hair — continued to shine, cruising through the group rounds along with the other members of her foursome after their version of Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)." Zoanette Johnson, the house-on-fire from Tulsa, Oklahoma, whose rendition of the National Anthem at the Tulsa auditions was among the more surreal performances in "Idol" history, slayed the judges with Chi Coltrane's "Thunder and Lightning" and continues to be one of the season's most unique presences. Elsewhere, plenty of groups sang Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" — so far it's the year's unofficial theme song — and many a contestant was caught scrawling the words to their songs on their hands and arms to avoid forgetting their words on stage. (Many still did anyway.)

Ah yes, back to Kez Ban. Just as it looked like her group was about to fall apart at the seams, they pulled it together and wowed the judges with their take on "Be My Baby." "The voices — perfection," Nicki Minaj told Ban and her groupmates Breanna Steer, Angela Miller and Janelle Arthur, singling out Arthur, the 23-year-old from Oliver Springs, Tennessee, as a "star." (The "star" designation is one of Nicki's favorite titles, if you haven't yet noticed this season.) And Minaj, of course, had some words for Ban, calling her "a crazy psycho, and I love that." "You can identify with that, perhaps," Ban told her, to which Minaj replied, "absolutely." Ban and crew handily survived the cut, proceeding to Thursday's (February 14) episode, where the field of females will be narrowed down to 20. Then we'll find out if Ban really has the stuff of which "Idols" are made, or if she was just a Hollywood Week prop.

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