“This is the end of the road for you guys.” Now who really wants to hear that? It’s better than “Get off the friggin’ stage”, but it still hurts.

We’ve been watching American Idol for a long time and we have to agree that Hollywood Week is one of the most tension-filled weeks each season has to offer. It’s like harvest season. Sure, the talent gathered is the best the country has to offer, but that’s only the first crop. “Will you be the best of the best?” is the question. Thursday night, we found out.

We were glad to see 16-year-old Brett Lowenstern, the bright red bushy-haired golden voiced darling go through to the next level. Reminder: he’s sixteen years old. However, we were actually sad to see 17-year-old Victoria Hudgens go home. That little light in her took a hit. We hope she was met with sleep and a tub of rocky road when she got to her hotel.

Things finally started to come together as we could envision the future line-up on Idol‘s stage, the first contestant (we hope) being 23-year-old Rachel Zevita from New York, N.Y. How did she slip from our consciousness, this one? Her voice is rich and sultry like honey and cloves. Along with 15-year-old Thia Megia and 19-year-old Casey Abrams to follow, we’re really excited. Their choice of second-impression songs and the way they delivered shook the core. They’re the definition of “shoo-in”.

James Durbin’s rendition of The Beatles’ “Oh Darling” makes us think we’ve got another Adam Lambert on our hands – and we’re actually a little excited about it. Out of the two ladies featured in this set, Miss Teen USA Stormi Henley and Lauren Alaina, the latter was the best. Absolutely. We were actually thrilled that we were in sync with the judges and that Stormi – pretty though she might be – was sent home. Talent over purely looks? Scratch that itch; it’s been a long time coming.

Couples were a favorite during the initial auditioning round. Our exes who should be exes no longer, Rob Bolinand and Jaycee Badeux were sent through without a hitch. However, there’s a reason why we didn’t remember Nick Fink and Jacqueline Dunford from their initial auditions – they wanted to make sure remembered them this go-round. Nick wasn’t so great, but Jacqueline? Fantastic! We love her and so did the judges. While Nick didn’t make it through, we feel that cutting his losses and encouraging his girl instead of acting like a fool would have done him better. He wasn’t s jackass, not really. He was just a persistent annoyance. Kind of like a rash. You know what’s funny, though? (Not funny ha-ha but funny effed up.) Nick is the kind of guy that would break up with his girlfriend as some kind of vengeful tactic. Watch. We understand how strong emotions can be but during that whole audition there was nothing but ego all over his face. If he had swapped it for egg he might have a chance at being a human being.

More and more of our favorites either got through or were rejected (survival of the fittest, guys), but it was the really, really young talent – think 15 to 17 years old – that we were really proud of during Hollywood Week. Towards the end of the show, however, the talent became something like a karaoke line-up, at least from the two we could sufficiently zero in on — we had a hard one with the judges’ few last selections, the one over the other kind. New Jersey auditionee Tiffany Rios’ second audition wasn’t all that great (we had to stifle a giggle or two). However, in all fairness, 17-year-old Travis Orlando’s audition wasn’t the best, either. His sounded more like a karaoke night out, which makes it even sadder that his nerves were more of a damper on his voice than a boost of greatness.

Thankfully that ends things this go-round, and we’ll move into the group auditions next week.

What are your thoughts on Hollywood Week?