Last Thursday we got a whole lot of drama and zero singing, so this week, to make it up to us, “Idol” gave us what felt like two episodes in one — the group performances followed by final solos and elimination.
But even with all that ground to cover, two hours of “Idol” are, let’s face it, a stretch. Increasingly longer segments before each commercial break previewed what was to come afterward. After the commercials, we got even longer segments recapping what had just occurred.
Fainting continued to be a recurring trope of Hollywood week, as various girls dropped like flies, and yet still insisted on performing — to no avail. None of the fallen contestants made it past the group round.
I’m sticking to my theory that it was food poisoning that took them down — there’s no way a bug could infect so many people so fast. And seeing as how I have watched a lot of “House,” I am fully qualified to make a blanket medical statement like that.
Another theme of the night was forgotten lyrics, which I believe is also brought on by food poisoning. In past years, any group member that forgot a lyric got an automatic boot. But these newer, kinder judges instead encouraged teammates to help their forgetful friends. And then there were cute singing bunnies and a rainbow appeared in the auditorium, and we all held hands and lived happily ever after. Or, they could just send these dead weights home, no?
Randy can keep saying that this year is the best talent we’ve seen yadda yadda, but group round, sorry to say it, proved him wrong. There was some truly, truly bad singing going on, starting with the very first group to take the stage, the Betties. The group’s travails were much documented last week when its five members fought furiously over whether or not to go to bed. And one girl barfed pretty much all night long. In the end, only Cari Quoyeser and Jennifer Malsch make it through, the latter being the one who had an unattractive meltdown when her teammates finally decided they needed sleep.
Another high-drama group to get slaughtered in performance was Those Girls and That Guy. Alisha Bernhardt, the cop from Indy, was annoying from the start when she wouldn’t budge on her song choice in order to find a group. She bulldozed her way into an already established foursome, and continued to exert her annoying influence when she walked out on stage asking everybody if they were “ready to have some fun in here!” Oh yeah, and that guy, Christian Lopez to be exact, had spent the night puking. So they weren’t exactly gelled, let’s say. Their lackluster performance brought the yawns to Jennifer Lopez. Not one made it to the next round.
Tent girl Amy Brumfield’s team, Make You Believers, did get over the hurdle of Amy’s fever the day before. But Jacquie Cora seemed to come down with something right before the group’s turn. She took a fall in the auditorium, and though she probably should have sat the performance out, she decided to forge ahead. But it seems the will-she-or-won’t-she suspense threw the whole crew off — none of them were on key and one of them forgot his words. But my heart broke for them a little when other contestants, sitting in the audience, were shown laughing at them. Only one — Mathenee Treco—survived.
And the last sicko of the group round was Imani Handy, part of the group Area 451, which included early auditions star Johnny Keyser. Just before show time, Imani fainted, but looking completely miserable, she decided to go ahead with the performance. She actually sang her part well, but as soon as she was done with her lyrics, she passed out again. Everyone in her group rushed to her side, except oblivious Johnny Keyser, who kept singing and had to be waved to stop by Randy. He lost sensitivity points, but still made it through (after it was determined Imani would live)—the only one from the group.
Success stories were few, but they were satisfying, at least. Like the group Hollywood 5, a collection of the highest-voiced boys on the show: young Eben Franckewitz, little David Leathers, Jr., and falsetto king Jeremy Rosado. Over in MIT, Heejun Han and his cowboy rival Richie Law make it through, as do teammates Jairon Jackson and Phillip Phillips. Once again Heejun has the best bit of the night, when, after getting the good news, he apologizes to Richie for all the bad cowboy jokes he’ll have to watch when the show finally airs. “Sorry to your parents,” says Heejun.
The judges barely spoke during group round, but on the dawn of Day 4, they’ve livened up a bit, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson jamming on stage with a bunch of contestants (while JLo makes a call and misses the fun).
Today Steven looks like he’s transitioning from male to elderly 2nd grade teacher female, in a hot pink dress shirt accented by a lovely gray scarf. JLo is wearing a formless green frock, which she later covers up in a gray sweater shaped like a winter coat. Randy looks like, well, Randy: indistinguishable shirt under indistinguishable jacket over indistinguishable jeans.
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There are still 98 singers left (seriously?) and each of them gets to take a solo turn. As the contest gets under way, Steven asks the first singer, Joshua Ledet, to “heal me.” And he does. He sings (I think) “Jar of Hearts” and basically rips out his own heart and throws it bloody on the floor in the process. The first performance of the day gets a standing ovation from the judges.
Other standouts: Colton Dixon on keyboard, Phillip Phillips on guitar, Reed Grimm on… drums!, and Creighton Fraker, who sounds like he comes from the cabaret stage (he does) but is so crazy good it doesn’t really matter that he’s not a pop singer. Jen Hirsh is another notable, though she takes things a little too far with some gymnastic runs.
Finally, the judges divvy up the remaining contestants into four rooms and proceed to try to fool the rooms of winners into thinking they are losers. We’re sorry to say that Room 1 makes it! Room 2 makes it! Room 3 is sent home (Rachelle Lamb, who has a very loud indigestion problem, is the only contestant in this room that we’ve even met). And Room 4…makes it? So basically the elimination consisted of about two dozen contestants. And tomorrow, the other, oh, 75 people, are bussed to Vegas for even more auditioning, on this never-ending journey to live shows.
Coming up after the break, a recap of everything I just told you in my recap!