‘American Idol’ Cliffhanger – the Symone Black Aftermath

American Idol (FOX)

Welcome back to Hollywood, where Symone Black is alive and well and suffers the affliction of dehydration — and crazy stage dad. Black fell off the stage last night after a stellar solo turn and wound up in the hospital. Tonight, it was high drama as “American Idol” juxtaposed Symone’s unmarked van journey to the ER with the cuts of the last round of singers. Because clearly one is just as important as the other.

Symone survived, but all was not well in Hollywood, where the remaining 185 formed into groups of four or five and desperately tried to put together a number in something like 9 or 12 hours.

Amy Brumfield, the Tennessee tent-dweller, had her hyper-plucked eyebrows permanently set in a scowl as she moped around because of a fever. “Idol” pitched her sickness as “Contagion” style outbreak among other contestants, going so far as to call her “Patient Zero” and show surveillance footage of her standing near other folks who were later seen puking into garbage bags.

There were at least three fevers, two nauseas, plus another guy with kidney stones. (Anyone else wondering who let the 45-year-old through to Hollywood?) The mass illness begs the question: just what are they feeding these kids at the Sheraton Hotel? Someone should really look into whether this was all caused by some bad sushi.

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Anyway, group night brought about the usual crises — mean, abrasive people who are completely inflexible and not finding any groups; control freaks forcing bad choreography on their teammates and losing friends; poor little children getting no sleep, breaking down and crying.

All that agita, and we don’t even get to hear any of the groups sing. Just as the first girl opens her mouth to take a breath, once again, they roll the credits. Seriously, guys, it’s just mean. The group performance is one of the only highlights in a rather long and drawn out audition process, and the only way I can make it through the long days ahead waiting for “Idol” to return is to just watch “The Voice.” Loyalties are shifting, Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick. Watch out.

Ones to Watch

Once again Heejun Han was the charmer of the night. His deadpan one-liners are the stuff of sitcom magic. Get this guy a TV show! Best moment of the night, after his cowboy-hat-wearing teammate made him learn the box step: “Now I have a very, very bad perspective towards cowboys.”

Staten Island’s Brielle Von Hugel, one of last year’s Hollywood contenders, is back. She had teamed with Pia Toscano in an all-New Yorker group, and they set the bar high with their take on Bruno Mars’s “Grenade.” She didn’t make it as far as Pia, but now she’s returned—and seemingly with a vengeance, a no-nonsense New York accent, and a serious stage mom in tow.

Ones to Watch Your Back Around

Alisha Bernhardt, the aforementioned mean girl, who wouldn’t change her song choice in order to work in a group, is a cop. That amount of negativity and stubbornness + legal mandate to carry a gun = scary.

The judges. Further footage after Symone’s fainting reveals how all three just perched there and gaped at the fallen singer, while others rushed to her aid. Even Ryan Seacrest made it to Symone’s side before Jennifer Lopez was carefully lifted off of the judges’ pedestal to get a little closer. Lifted! All Steven Tyler did was offer the astute observation that “she hit her head.” Remind me to never almost die near those guys.

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