American Idol: "Hollywood Round #2"
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American Idol: "Hollywood Round #2"

Whoo lord! Two hours of Group Night is a lot, but I think the producers know that it’s the best night of Idol’s audition process, so they gave us what we wanted: lots of group singing and drama as 168 kids joined up.  

Shit got real early on when it was revealed that the groups must consist of singers from both day one and day two of auditions, so day one singers who had already formed groups needed to re-form, which instantly caused problems. Brett Loewenstern’s group had problems finding a new person and got ditched two times, the second when Jessica Yantz made the biggest mistake of her life and decided to team up with Tiffany Rios. It was gratifying to see how bad Tiffany’s comment about how all the other contestants only thought they could do what she did bit her in the ass.  “Do you want me in your group?” she asked one guy. “No,” he said. “Are you being serious?” “Yes,” he said. It was great. At one point, she tried to get Scotty McCreery to join her, and he asked to hear her sing, and she retorted that she should her him sing. He started to bail, and then she basically begged him on her knees to join her. Somehow, her desperate mess self failed to tempt him. She and Jessica were ultimately allowed to just be a duo. 

I didn’t have high hopes for Scotty at this point though either. He auditioned for the insufferable Jordan Dorsey and sang the same dang song he’s been doing throughout the competition, then tried again with Frank Sinatra. If I never hear Frank Sinatra sung again on this show, it will be too soon. Scottie eventually joined up with Clint Gamboa’s group, which also contained Jacee Badeaux. Jordan, after demanding auditions from everyone in his group, ultimately left this crew and joined a new group. The original group was not pleased.

We met the Minors, a group of 15- and 16-year-olds who were all being coached by their moms, which I could see possibly undermining them as much as I could see it being an unfair advantage. James Durbin’s group was annoyed by the mothers, and to be an ass, James screeched a really loud note right near the Minors to piss them off. He was also still wearing his cloth tail. 

Ashley Sullivan, to no one’s surprise, had a hard time with the pressure, going from a perfectly nice-looking girl earlier on in the episode to looking like an especially haggard meth addict once she started flipping out. She tried to leave Idol completely, but the producers encouraged her to think it over. On the advice of her boyfriend (who also sort of looks meth-y), she stayed, and fortunately for her, her group welcomed her back. 

We all love Clint Gamboa for writing music for The Room and for his hipster glasses but (boo, hiss!) he kicked Jacee out of his group for not holding his notes. Jacee (who is only 15) put on a brave face, and he tried to figure out what to do, and to his parents’ credit,  they didn’t interfere with his rehearsal process. He ultimately joined up with Brett Loewenstern’s group, and for some reason, I got goosebumps over how nice everyone ended up being about the whole thing. 

Finally, after the hours and hours of rehearsal, it was time for the actual performances. Jennifer’s skin glowed, although I didn’t care for her white satiny pants. Steven gave some wonderfully apt advice to the contestants: “Use your illusion.” Unless he meant “allusion”? 

I didn’t think the first two groups were super amazing, but they didn’t screw up horribly either, so a gaggle of pretty New York girls and then Jordan Dorsey’s new group made it through. (I would like to call out Robbie Rosen’s horrific black leather vest/purple sweater combo here, however.) Then the group Jordan abandoned performed “Forget You” and actually got the audience dancing: Lauren Turner was especially strong, although I don’t remember her from earlier auditions.

Tiffany and Jessica took the stage, with Jennifer saying, “I’m scared!” before their performance. They sang “Irreplaceable” with weird choreography that involved them sitting on the floor. I don’t know how Jessica really did because all I could focus on was how Tiffany sounded horrible and strangely mannish. Randy asked them to stop, and of course, Tiffany asked for a second chance. I was a little disappointed that she went as quietly as she did, because she was really fun to hate there while she lasted. 

One of the next groups, all girls, had the brainy idea to have Steven come up on stage and sit on the chair so they could serenade him with "Some Kind of Wonderful" and play with his hair and flirt with him. Of course, Steven stole their performance because, in addition to singing along with them (and you have to give it to Steven, when he sings impromptu, he’s always in tune), I kept thinking about how skinny he is and was trying to figure out what kind of shoes he was wearing (were they possibly black socks and sandals?). Anyway, I was gratified when Jennifer pointed out that the girls’ gimmick made it hard to judge them accurately, and then only one of them made it through.

Fragile Ashley Sullivan’s group performed, and Ashley (who kind of looks like nutty Parker Posey at times) actually kept it together. In fact, the group reminded me what a cute song “Hit ‘Em Up Style” is. The judges loved their harmonizing, and they all went through. 

Finally, James Durbin’s group went head to head with the Minors on “Someone to Love." I didn’t care for the performance in general, and I was pretty surprised that James made it through: I think he’s warmed-over Adam Lambert, and I find his loudness grating. Only half of their group made it through (which meant that Emma Henry, who had begged for her spot in the competition and Jennifer predicted would fall apart later on, was sent home). 

The mothers gloated after this, so I started rooting against the Minors, but the judges loved their version so much they gave a standing ovation. I don’t think that we necessarily heard what the judges did, thanks to editing, but the kids all seemed very cute and legitimately talented, so I’m not mad at them. It’s not their fault their moms are pushy. 

Randy then chastised one guy who blatantly read lyrics off his hand, but the rest of his crew (including Hollie Cavanagh) all went through: Corey Levoy, in disbelief, initially asked Randy why he made it, until Randy called the group to come get their boy. 

We then heard from two groups who sang without musical accompaniment. The first contained Casey Abrams and Julie Zorrilla, both of whom I’ve found myself rooting against (he’s too Taylor Hicks, she’s too pretty first, talent second), but they both made it through.

The second a capella group, containing my favorite, Naima Adedapo, was much better, performing a cute little scene when they sang “Get Ready.” Jacob Lusk stood out for his unique little breakdown (musically, not mentally) at the end. The judges sent their whole crew through.

Chris Medina’s group made it through too, excepting Devyn Rush, the singing waitress, who couldn’t believe that she got cut. I was surprised too: The judges thought she was screamy tonight, but she didn’t seem like she necessarily deserved to be cut. I did enjoy group member’s Carson Higgins’ sassy stage presence, though.

Finally Brett and Jacee’s group performed “Mercy.” Jacee sang technically okay but didn’t really know the lyrics that well, so he was lacking some confidence and power. He was allowed to tell his sad, wandering tale and was allowed to go through along with the other contestants, crying a little bit with happiness. I feel like I can let Jacee go at this point: I don’t need to see him in the competition part of the show, but I like him, and I feel like he got his due, and he’s a good kid, and I wish him well, etc.

Meanwhile, I’ve come to be sick of Scotty McCreery’s face and voice. When his group performed, Randy asked about their kicking Jacee out and Scotty seemed to get remorseful (although I don’t know how much he had to do with Jacee’s removal). His group performed an interesting rendition of “Get Ready,” and the judges let them all through. Every now and then, Jennifer says something that makes me really want to hang out with her, and this time it was “Come on, Jun, you know you was going through.” 

The last group of the night was Three’s Company, which consisted of Rob, Chelsee, and Jacqueline. It was apparent throughout the entire night that Rob has no interest anymore on being on Idol, and he pretty much torpedoed his performance of “Forget You,” flubbing the lines and ad libbing instantly. I also thought Jacqueline was kind of awful too, but only Rob was eliminated. He practically left a Rob-shaped hole in the set, he left so fast. 

Tomorrow night, the final 100 contestants get cut down to 50. And then what happens? That’s a lot of singers to go through. Good thing this show is not actually painful to watch this season. 

Stray observations:

  • Here are some of your “favorites” that also went home, albeit not in a very dramatic way: Matt Dillard (overalls guy from the foster home), Paris Tassin (pretty lady with special needs daughter), one of the Gutierrez brothers, and most surprisingly, Emily Anne Reid. 
  • Oh, another good Steven moment was when he noodled around on the drums onstage when the judges were killing time.

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