OFFSTAGE: Guys Rule on American Idol‘s Hollywood Week

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

What does it feel like when all the men with American Idol golden tickets get together to compete in Hollywood? Like a post-apocalyptic nation at war? “It does feel a bit like The Hunger Games, so we’ll see who gets to the weaponry first,” Keith Urban explained to describe the feel of the all-guys Hollywood week, which aired Wednesday and Thursday (Feb. 6-7).

So much of this part of the Idol process is devoted to the behind-the-scenes drama that always seems to come with group week. (Strangers have to collaborate and then get judged on their performance, so drama is inevitable.) At one point, Urban had to tell an entire group they were heading home after they failed miserably at “What Makes You Beautiful.” He noted, “If the word ‘wrongest’ can be used, it was the wrongest song for you guys. The song’s from One Direction, but it was like four directions.”

Urban did have good things to say to a handful of contestants this week, though. “You just simply must go on,” he told Lazaro Arbos. “You are born to sing. It’s what you do,” he said to Devin Velez.

And to Nicholas Mathis, Urban went on and on about chasing songs. “There’s a lot that pulls at you in this calling,” he said. “And somehow we have to compartmentalize that, and when we wake up at 3 a.m. in the morning on a tour bus and we wonder ‘What are we doing out here,’ and we just cry, the only answer can ever be, ‘Because this is what I was born to do. This is my calling.’ And I just felt like when you said ‘chasing a dream’, I got to say, man, I felt like you were chasing a song.”

There weren’t nearly enough country songs this week, but Paul Jolley did a fair job on Carrie Underwood ‘s “Blown Away,” and Micah Johnson was pretty good on Randy Travis“I Told You So.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.