At the start of the 2014 American Idol season, announcements were made that some surprising new changes would be revealed. On Feb. 5 one of those surprises hit some contestants hard and fast and culminated in a bus trip home before stepping foot into the coveted Hollywood destination.
The anticipated arrival to Hollywood was delayed with a side trip to a large warehouse were certain contestants were called forth to once again audition for their right to remain in the American Idol competition. The three judges, Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and the newly added Harry Connick Jr. now dubbed "Hatchet Harry," took on the task of reviewing their "doubtfuls" in order to thin down the pack.
The new warehouse review was a brutal and nerve racking event and perhaps would have been unnecessary if less kindness had been forthcoming prior to handing out some tickets to Hollywood. During several televised auditions, Harry Connick Jr. stated that the heartbreak contestants might experience being rejected at the initial audition could be far less devastating than being chewed up and eaten alive later. (Paraphrased)
Perhaps "Hatchet Harry" was correct. The warehouse review of select contestants was not the only unexpected diversion from the ticket to Hollywood path. After struggling with surprise auditions, reviewed contestants sat in anxiety, hope, fear and dread as their buses drove away from the warehouse. Perhaps even more brutal was the refusal to reveal the results of the review until one of two buses drove toward the airport that signaled their flight away from Hollywood. Ouch!
Some expressed gratitude that they had made it at least that far but the overall group reaction was a sense of loss. The once golden ticket became little more than a trip to a road block where the hatchet dropped. While the judges certainly never intended cruelty the tactic could be viewed as an unnecessary addition to the American Idol process possibly designed to play to the audiences greed for suspense and drama. The next American Idol step will include eliminating up to and possibly more than half the remaining contestants. Dashed hopes are a common occurrence in the industry and A.I. doesn't waiver from the reality. Only a handful ever make it to the top of the competitive circle and only one will win.