32 American Idol Hopefuls Turned Away

Well, that was a dirty trick. You make it to Hollywood, then you actually haven’t really even made it to Hollywood?

That was the new (and pretty horrible) twist on American Idol during Wednesday’s (Feb. 5) first night in Hollywood.

There were 212 contestants who initially made the trip out to California. But then right when they landed and before they’d even gone to their hotel rooms to freshen up, they made a stop at an airplane hangar. The iffy contestants — the ones who weren’t sure things throughout the initial audition process — had to sing again.

“You can’t just waltz up there and start phoning in,” Keith Urban said when he was quietly commiserating with his fellow judges before telling the contestants, “When you step up to this mic, commit to this moment.”

Harry Connick Jr. added, “If you screw this up you, it’s over. It can’t be mediocre. It has to be great.”

So of the 212 Hollywood hopefuls, 52 had to go through this grueling pre-Hollywood judgment.

Those 52 were then divided into two groups, and each group got on separate buses (the winner bus and the loser bus, essentially).

A lucky 20 of them got to stay.

And as for the other 32? It was their bus driver who gave them the bad news when he just dropped them right back off in the airport.

For those who did make it to the Hollywood stage to sing, their future still wasn’t safe. And by the end of the show, only 104 contestants had made it to the next round. The rest had to head home.

Some of those decisions were no brainers, like when Casey Thrasher was invited to stay after a spectacular cover of George Jones‘ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” But other decisions made it seem like the judges’ minds must have been elsewhere, like when Briston Maroney put his own awful spin on Lorde’s “Royals,” and they didn’t send him home.

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