When “American Idol’s” Hollywood Week was over, New Orleanian Quentin Alexander was the lone Louisiana contestant still in the competition.
Out of the thousands who auditioned for Season 14 across the country last year, Alexander is one of a dozen guys and a dozen girls in the Top 24. As the well-known New Orleans tune goes, he’s “in that number.”
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” the 21-year-old Alexander said from Los Angeles. “I never would have thought that I’d be one of the people to get this opportunity, and to go this far is just amazing.”
Hollywood Week is when the hundreds who received golden tickets in their audition cities converge in Los Angeles for days of solo and group performances. Judges must whittle it down to 48, then 24 contestants. There’s tension and tears, but no rest for the weary, especially when it’s time for the groups round.
“For me, I think I was actually one of the lucky ones,” Alexander said. “I was blessed to have three other really good musicians. The only thing was, they were all minors, so I was the oldest of the group. Those girls were really technically trained in music, they knew all the terminology and they kind of made the whole experience easier, because you know we were all just driving off of one idea, and building on that.
“There was really no drama in the group. Everyone was just excited to be there. It made it more fun, I think.”
The quartet performed Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby” to a thumbs-up from the judges.
“You have to get your practice in as much as you can because you know right when you fall asleep, it’s probably time to get on stage and sing,” he said.
Alexander thinks the Hollywood Week grind shaped him for the rest of the competition.
“It was not only a test of vocals, but a test of endurance,” he said.
And it was also about saying goodbyes.
“Yeah, that was one of the hardest things, you know, building that bond with people and then having to see them turned away (when they were eliminated and sent home),” he said. “It has its toll on you, but you’ve got to just keep it movin.’”
The Top 24 have done just that, heading to the historic Filmore Detroit in the city famous for Motown for last week’s first performances before a live crowd.
The soulful and original Alexander, channeling a young Lenny Kravitz, brought it — the vocals, the performance, the look. He took the stage in a furry coat and nose ring, his wild locks pulled up by a black scarf .
“I always try to create things out of whatever I can find, but it’s definitely going to be a different look every time I step on the stage. I defini tely want to expose something new so it kind of stays fresh,” he said.
“Great,” “perfect,” “like a Grammy performance,” judges Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban said respectively of Alexander’s take on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” in Detroit.
“I’m going to try to keep stepping on top of my last performance,” Alexander said.
The Top 24 will be trimmed to 16 this week before America begins its weekly voting leading up to the May 20 finale when a new “Idol” will be announced.