March 26 was the start of Hollywood Week on “American Idol” 20I8. In the competition's history, this brutal boot camp is when good singers are separated from superstars. Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, and Katy Perry were enthusiastic and pleased with many performances but still had to cut deep into the roster of 169 to get to the eventual Top 24. Hearts and dreams feel those cuts deeply, too, but hopefully not the determination to try again.

As always, some talents never featured throughout the auditions were spotlighted in stellar moments, and hours of singing and practice on no sleep worked to steal chances for others.

This rigorous “American Idol” phase is designed to show character as much as talent, as Luke Bryan described, and skills in teambuilding, no matter the personalities

Solo on the Dolby stage

The stage of the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood is certainly the largest one that most of the contestants have ever seen, much less performed on, and Layla Spring had to stand all by herself this time. Little sister, Dixie, could only watch with their mom from up above, but Layla still did them proud with her turn on Pearl Jam's “Last Kiss.” Luke Bryan loves how Layla talks, and Katy Perry gave her a yell of approval, screaming “That's how you kick it off!”

Alyssa Raghu was another standout with her soulful “Wind Beneath My Wings,” while Trevor McBane brought everybody to church with his spirited “Washed By the Water.” Caleb Lee Hutchinson sailed through with his deep-voiced “Don't Close Your Eyes.” Nursing student, Noah Davis, was absolutely solid with his “Mama Knows Best” a la Jessie J, and getting some solid plans together for his alpaca.

Milo Sposato was the only one of the twin brothers chosen, and it seems that his mom comes, too, as a package deal.

Catie Turner remained completely herself, glad to let the panel of judges test out her hugs, and taken by the “cute boys” in Hollywood while keeping her heart for contestant Zach D’Onofiro. Zach sadly did not last, but Catie captivated everyone by making “Come Together” seem totally her own.

Jonny Brenns didn't have to sneak off on the bus this time for his performance. His mom and sister were in full support, and his soulful piano audition passed just fine. Jurnee sang splendidly on Demi Lovato's “You Don't Do It for Me,” and will likely keep her streak going through the competition.

Katy Perry's “dreamboat,” Trevor Holmes, had his girlfriend keeping an eye on the judge while he sang this time, still getting safe passage in the first round.

Lee Vasi, who last sang with Lionel Richie on “Zoom,” flew like a turbojet through her stage performance.

Ada Vox once again wowed the judges with his range and talent, and music teacher, Maddie Zahm made it through, carrying her best friend, Marcus, in her heart rather than in person this time.

The paralyzed singer, David Francisco, did not have his “best day” at auditions, and did not make the cut, but kept his positive spirit.

Groups go for everything

God’s Diversity was the first of the groups to perform, and they perfectly gelled as a group and individual vocalists on “Rather Be.” The singers brought their exuberance right up to the panel. They were exquisite, and Michael J Woodard, Shannon O'Hara, Thaddeus Johnson, and Kourtney Smith are going onward.

Gurope—yes, that was the name -- was up next to perform, and let's just say it was a whole different story. “Stayin’ Alive” was the group’s song, and keeping up with the lyrics seemed pretty much impossible for even the best singers, like Maddie Zahm and Marcio Donaldson. In “do or die” mode, Maddie and Marcio made up words and kept singing, and Lionel Richie elaborated that the group had just discovered what really being "in the business" means. Cesely Parrish also passed the test.

TACO had the distinction of having Catie Turner, Khaya Robinson, Alyssa Raghu, and Victoria McQueen as members, and the group leaned on both harmony and individual strengths for their own rendition of A Naughty Boy’s “La La La,” packed with personality.

Only Khaya missed this cut, but the other girls sent her off with love, knowing she mattered.

Illness and long hours continued to take a toll, with Samuel Swanson developing vocal cysts and Johnny White clearly losing song lyrics.

Super Dope Hotness was the next group up, and the performance wasn't without problems. Milo Sposato’s mom kept pushing for her son to be able to change his part in “Love Yourself” to better showcase his talent, against the will of the group. The last-minute change worked, as everyone in the group went through, including Dennis Lorenzo.

Ada Vox showed off his/her beatboxing skills with his group, DNA. The ensemble also benefited from vocalists Gabby Barrett, Jurnee, and Dominique, who all were blessed to stay in the competition.

Soul 4 was made up of all girls except for Laine Hardy, who got treated like an ugly handbag by his bandmates. They even teased about leaving their male singer behind, but when it came down to it, Hardy bit his tongue and sang Justin Bieber. He was no dancer, either, but the judges gave this group’s “Love Yourself” a standing ovation, and Laine was one of two selected to stay in the running.

The final group was Don’t Touch. Britney Holmes, Lee Vasi, and Gabii Jones are all practiced and performing singers, different from Crystal Alicea, who had only sung karaoke before her “American Idol” audition. Insecurity kept Crystal from her best voice during rehearsals, but the other girls kept rallying her spirit.

Their performance on “Me and My Broken Heart” brought a beautiful reception. Katy Perry announced that there was only room for three to move on in the competition, and asked for a volunteer to give up her opportunity. “I'll do it,” spoke Crystal, unable to hold back tears.

“Look at her heart,” Perry exclaimed, as the group mates gathered around her.

“Don't cry, sweetie,” Perry continued, “You’re ALL going through!”

Next week, more contestants will be cut.