American Idol Recap: Drama? Major!

There’s an evil science behind the annual rite of passage known as the “group-performance round” of Hollywood Week on American Idol: Take a hundred or more emotionally fragile, sleep-deprived singers, force them to splinter off into small groups to learn sometimes unfamiliar songs under intense deadline pressure, and watch as fascinatingly awful things begin to happen.

That was certainly the case tonight.

The once charming Jordan Dorsey hallucinated that he was auditioning for the role of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. Cherubic 15-year-old Jacee Badeaux (pictured, bottom left) found himself getting the Idol equivalent of an atomic wedgie. And Tiffany “Jersey Girl” Rios brought something so awful to the stage that it distracted from her tragically ill-fitting leopard-print skirt. (Spoiler alert: It was her voice.)

Even the judges went a little haywire tonight, repeatedly nixing the dreams of singers who sounded, if not fantastic, at least above average, while enthusiastically endorsing folks who couldn’t remember their lyrics (Corey Levoy), failed to hit a single note (Jacqueline Dunford), and attempted to imitate Adam Lambert with his fingers in a car door (oh, you know who I mean).

But seeing as how “group round” included a whopping 168 singers — and approximately 299 of them were shown singing tonight — I’m not even going to attempt to chronologically rehash everything that happened over the course of the fast-paced, two-hour telecast. Instead, let’s hand out a selection of Hollywood Week Group Round Awards — the Groupies, for short — to the overlooked, the underwhelming, and the (possibly) criminally insane. Without further ado…

The Lauren Alaina Restraining Order Award
This special prize — instant elimination! — is awarded to any contestant caught hitting his or her notes within five feet of Nigel Lythgoe’s pet contestant. Which is really the only way to explain how the judges gave the thumbs-down sign to the three unidentified women who joined Lauren in serenading Steven Tyler with a rendition of “Some Kind of Wonderful.” (One of these ladies, Sarah Ames, must have done something that really offended the folks at Fremantle; they failed to include her name when she nailed Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name” during the San Francisco audition episode, and again opted not to give her a chyron last night. I managed to unearth her identity only with a visit to Based on only a short snippet, Sarah was at least as strong as Lauren, as was the blonde woman (Ryan’s voiceover I.D.’d her as Angela Cheslock) who helped fill out their quartet. (Similarly, I was perplexed why the teammates of early favorites Julie Zorrilla and Casey Abrams got cut, despite the fact that all three — especially Lara Johnston — delivered potent, on-pitch renditions of “Get Ready.”)

As for Lauren herself,  was anyone perturbed by the sight of the recently turned 16-year-old dancing provocatively for Idol‘s oldest judge? I know, I know, it’s not like she was giving Steven a lap dance, but in her black leather vest and lacy sleeves, it kind of felt like Skipper had raided the part of Barbie’s closet reserved for Friday night bar excursions.

The “I Can’t Believe You Used ‘Sad Coldplay Piano’ to Trick Me Into Crying” Award
Okay, I felt bad for 15-year-old Jacee Badeaux when his initial group (led by Clint Jun Gamboa) tossed him into the recycling bin with a pointed “I’m a stickler for people hitting their notes.” And yeah, I let out an “Awwww!” when the kid said he’d never before heard Duffy’s “Mercy.” But was that really reason enough for the judges to overlook his massacre of the song’s lyrics, and pitiful attempt at improv (“I don’t wanna go home/but this is really fun”)?

You knew there was no way they’d cut him when the heartstring-tugging piano riff from “The Scientist” kicked in, Jacee’s lower lip began to tremble, and J.Lo meaningfully furrowed her brow. Problem is, what happens if Jacee and His Precious Babyface advances to the voting portion of the show, has another meltdown, but gets saved by sympathetic speed-dialers? Can you imagine the weeks of torture for viewers’ ears and Jacee’s psyche? If the judges really had Jacee’s best interests at heart, they’d have sent him home and told him to return to the competition in a few seasons. (I will say, though, that the five-second snippet of Jacee’s teammate Stevie Cain sounded fairly impressive. Let’s hope we hear more from the long-haired beauty tomorrow night!)

The Karma Is Gonna Getcha (if Nigel Lythgoe Can Help It) Award
Anyone else notice how the producers chose a shot of Clint Jun Gamboa applying his ChapStick like a cartoon villain as Jacee told the judges how he’d been unceremoniously dumped by his previous group? Yet while on the surface, Clint certainly didn’t look like the most gracious of competitors, I have to ask: Would we have felt differently about his behavior if he’d booted, say, obnoxious Tiffany Rios from his team instead of an adorable little moppet? Idol contestants ultimately have to live or die by their performances: Just as Jacee’s adorableness shouldn’t shield him against the consequences of not hitting his notes or remembering his lyrics, maybe Clint’s self-preservationist streak shouldn’t lead to his automatic ouster.

Similar Karmic rules may also apply to Jordan Doresy, who decided to take on the “Simon Cowell” role in auditioning and selecting appropriate teammates for his group — until finally settling on a “none of the above” test score, ditching his original teammates, and looking for a new love. I don’t think any contestant in Idol history has made such a fast and furious leap from “charming fella!” to persona non grata.

The “So Good It Almost Made Me Forget Janay Castine/Demi Moore’s Husband” Prize
I’m genetically predisposed to loving any rendition of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops)” — with the sole exception of Janay Castine’s hilarious/brutal cover from Idol‘s season four semifinal (watch it here, if you dare!), which sounded like she was performing it from inside the “puree” setting of a powerful blender. But tonight, a loose, riffing rendition by Ashton Jones (pictured, bottom left) was like a candlelight rally to reclaim the song in the Idol pantheon, and (possibly/eventually) redefine her given name in the Mr. Kutcher Era.

The “Somebody Needs to Take Off His Shirt Today” Trophy
And apparently, it wasn’t going to be ship builder Jovany Barretto, who bared his abs back in the New Orleans audition round, but left the Chippendale shtick to teammate Kevin Campos (well, except for Jovany’s hilariously awful side-to-side hip-sway while providing background vocals). In a bit of Hell Week theater that I’m sure was in no way staged by producers, Kevin happened to be running “late” and “unwittingly” answered his hotel-room door wearing only a pair of pants and an unfastened belt. Unfortunately for Kevin, his abs got upstaged by the face J.Lo made (pictured, top left) when fellow “Spanglish” member Jorge Gabriel took a knife to the throat of “Just the Way You Are.” Kevin got booted, too, even though his vocal was arguably stronger than Jovany and fellow hopeful Karen “MySpace auditioner” Rodriguez. I guess punctuality counts in this competition!

The Antonella Barba ‘Pride of New Jersey’ Award
(presented in poetry form to Tiffany Rios)
Was it her skirt — leopard print, too tight?
Or the tragic vest, cast in synthetic white ?
Was it the glitter scattered through her hair?
Or was it her voice? It makes a grown man scared!
Tiffany Rios! (What’s that, you say?)
Hang up the mic, ’cause you’re not Beyoncé

The Tami Gosnell/Jermaine Purifory Memorial Award
Every year, Idol lets us get attached to a handful of singers in the audition rounds who get axed during Hollywood Week without us hearing so much as a note of their performances. This year, unfortunately, the statuette goes to Adrienne Beasley (the lovely black woman who grew up on a farm with her white adoptive parents). Did she forget her lyrics? Did she fall off the melody like a Wipeout contestant getting knocked off the “big red balls” obstacle course? We’ll never know, thanks to the casual indifference of Cecile Frot-Coutaz and her cronies. Hmph!

The “J.Lo Is Meaner Than Paula” Prize
Once upon a time, Paris Tassin’s (pictured, top right) hardscrabble story of raising a special needs daughter may have moved Jenny From the Block to tears, but dammit, her pitch-challenged rendition of “Only Girl in the World” left the new Idol judge feeling icy cold. “Off with her head!” screamed Jennifer, auditioning for the role of the Red Queen in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Okay, not really. But she didn’t say “You look lovely tonight” and arbitrarily advocate for Paris to make it to the next round.

The “J.Lo Is Wiser Than Paula” Prize
Back at the initial auditions, The Lady Lopez told you that two-toned teen Emma Henry and “country boy” Matt Dillard weren’t ready for Hollywood. Maybe next time you’ll listen to her! (Yes, Randy, if you’re reading this recap, my ire is directed right atcha: You are the authentic you in this paragraph!)

The “I Might Have to Consider Reversing My Policy on Rooting Against 15- and 16-Year-Olds” Trophy
In an episode that featured very little heretofore unseen talent, it was a fizzy joy to see Keonna Evans, Jalen Harris, Sarina-Joi Crowe, Felix Ramsey, and Deandre Brackensick go to town on “Somebody to Love.” The kids delivered some choice harmonies, although the audition hit a sour note when their overenthusiastic stage moms were allowed to join their spawn on stage to celebrate their move to the next round. To paraphrase Beyoncé, “To stage left, to stage left…everybody’s parents should retire to stage left.”

The “Your Backstory Isn’t Going to Be Loud Enough to Drown Out Your Vocals” Award
I’m not sure why the judges are so keen on screechy James Durbin, but his vocal acrobatics on “Somebody to Love” proved he’s all shout and no bite. Chris Medina, meanwhile, was so utterly colorless on “Forget You” that I can’t help but sympathize with his teammate Devyn Rush for refusing to leave the building without trying to obtain a second opinion.

The “Maybe You Should’ve Worked With Tiffany Rios” Award
Poor Rob Bolin got so sidetracked by his inability to dance, he couldn’t even remember the name of his song (“Forget You”) seconds before his group-round performance. Maybe he should’ve hired the only (self-proclaimed) “professional choreographer” on site: I’m not sure if would’ve helped him any, but by hiring Tiffany in a behind-the-scenes capacity, he might’ve spared us from the Jersey chick’s disastrous vocalizing. Then again, I’m not sure Rob needed any help in the Idol kitchen, not with his ex-girlfriend Chelsee Oaks in his corner, and their third-wheel pal Jacqueline Dunford threatening to shoot him with a taser. I’m bummed that a guy with such a terrific natural tone crashed and burned so badly, but based on what he delivered to the judges, they did the right thing by giving him the guillotine treatment.

The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll Award
Congratulations, Pia Toscano, Alessandra Guercio, and Brielle Von Hugel. No disrespect intended to the trio of lovely ladies, who were the first contestants shown performing for the judges tonight, but I remember their simple-but-effective choreography a lot more vividly than their rendition of Bruno Mars’s “Grenade.” Pia’s vocals were probably the strongest of the bunch, but she’s got to dial back the vibrato when she’s holding a note.

And on said quavering note, what did you think of Hollywood Week Round 2? Were you impressed again by erstwhile audition crybaby Holly Cavanagh? (I liked her better than the judges seemed to.) How about the powerful quadruple threat of Da’Quela Payne, Jacob Lusk, Matthew Nuss, and Naima Adedapo? Did Scotty McCreary’s tearful apology to Jacee seem genuine to you, or was he salvaging his rep for the cameras?

And finally, what about maniacally dramatic Ashley Sullivan, who went through the five stages of grief (and invented a couple more while she was at it) before doing a halway decent rendition of that Blu Cantrell tune? Did you think she had it in her? Do you have anything at all to say about her antics? I’ll leave you to discuss in the comments, because I’m not even trying to acknowledge her brand of spastic, trainwreck, reality TV entertainment. And for all my Idol news and updates, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Emma says:

    The horror top 3, if producers and the power-voters have their wish:

    1. Chris
    2. James
    3. Jacee

    On the other hand, that would be entertainment gold, right?

    • allie says:

      lol. It would serve Nygel right.

    • Amy says:

      You forgot Lauren, she’d be #1. Group round sealed the deal, I officially can’t stand her.
      I watch this show for talent first, entertainment 2nd.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Amy – agreed. I’ve had enough of Lauren and her breathy voice. The kids that were in the group together with the stage mothers acted more age-appropriate and were way cuter and more likeable.

  2. Adam says:

    That was a good episode and an awesome recap, thanks Slezak. Crossing my fingers for some idolatry (oops idoloonies) delight this week.

    I hope James and Chris don’t make it through the semifinals, their backstory is the only thing appealing about them.

  3. iva dj says:

    you nailed it on Pia. I thought she sounded a bit like a lamb. But they were hot so all is forgiven, until the next round that is.

  4. sass says:

    The judges shouldn’t have tortured them like that. They have every right to kick Jacee out if he was singing badly.

    • allie says:

      Agreed. Jacee did exactly the same thing Rob did but Rob was axed. He was saved because he is a boyish 15 year old. If he makes it to the Top 20 he’ll be in for WEEKS. Ugh.

    • Margie says:

      They kicked him out because he’s fat. The guy in the white glasses mentioned “choreography,” which was code for “he can’t move well because he’s overweight.”

    • Melanie says:

      I actually disagree with you. I think it would be better for them to have someone weak in their group because it would make them look better. What does it matter if he sings badly if ultimately they are being judged on their own personal performances, not as groups.

  5. Carlito says:

    Slezak as usual you nailed the whole show. I for one think that the group rounds are stupid. No sleep, not enough time to rehearse, just stupid.

    • Skye says:

      Yes, great recap. Hey, why is it that some contestants say after being told to go home that they will do anything it takes to get a second chance or to get the judges to change their minds? Are they in denial or do they know something we’re not seeing?
      Also, do you think that the show is headed yet again for another male winner? I know, I know, with the exception of the prodigal child.

  6. JenR says:

    They also did not show Emily Anne Reed (she of the Escher arm tattoos and jazzy singing style)sing, so we don’t know if she was bad in her group or if Uncle Nigel just doesn’t want singer-songwriter types. That burns me up.

    • B.Rich says:

      She was my favorite this season, sucks that they cut her without a single note in hollywood.

    • susela says:

      She was my favorite from the auditions! I wish they had shown us why she didn’t make it through—but I suspect it’s because her unique style wouldn’t necessarily work well as part of a group singing pop tunes.

    • marie says:

      Hiss, boo on booting both Adrienne and Emily Anne without our hearing one note to justify that! (I liked them both, but have learned to wait until the live shows to reserve judgment on any of the contestants.)

    • Snsetblaze says:

      I’m also wondering about Molly DeWolf, Paul McDonald and Jackie Wilson.

    • Grace says:

      THANK YOU! Geez, at least they acknowledged her name when she got cut, but could they not have cut 5 seconds of Ashley Sullivan’s hour-long freak out or Rob Bolin’s baby mama drama to let us hear why she got the shaft??

  7. Sandy says:

    I found someone to root for. Michael Nuss!

  8. Liz says:

    I am wondering if the judges really do make the cuts–or is it done in advance by the producers. I have a feeling they mark the picture cards the judges look at during the auditions telling them who to send through. I wouldn’t be surprised if a fave of the producers has a bad group round–that they would have them do it over again for a better tape for the show. How else would you explain (as you pointed out) that Sarah Ames and the rest of the group with Lauren got sent packing? When I heard Sarah’s voice, I actually looked up from the computer and rewound it to hear her again. (It was like when I heard Crystal sing Natural Woman last year.) Lauren really seemed to be the weakest it in that group. Plus, I don’t think it was the group’s idea to have Steve T come up on the stage either. That all seemed orchestrated by the producers. Anyway, there is no way that Tyler and the judges did not know that those girls were all very good. Better than most of the other singers last night who were sent sailing on to the next round. Maybe they wanted it to seem that Lauren was so great that she was even better than her group mates. Not saying she doesn’t have raw talent–she does. (I think she needs some lessons on how to breathe correctly when singing tho) Anyway, that was really disappointing and ruined the rest of the show for me. It is so frustrating knowing how much manipulation goes on.

    • Musica1 says:

      i completely agree with you. Lauren was the weakest singer in her group. The others were fantastic and were cut.

    • kb says:

      Good points. Among many injustices last night, the Lauren Alaina one was especially disappointing.

    • donie says:

      I thought it seemed like one waiting-for/getting-the-verdict moment, if not two, looked like they had been re-created. It just looked like a couple of the contestants were acting — and not good actors — the part of receiving news.

    • Emma says:

      As irritating the cuts were, they “had to” cut the others, since there isn’t room to but one young peppy white girl in the top 12. The producers had chosen Alaina already, so the others like her had to go.
      It was actually a really bad move for the others to chose a group with so little diversity, it really emphasized the similarity. But, the others probably didn’t know that Alaina was “the chosen one” and that their role was only to make her look good.

    • Skye says:

      I was really looking forward to Idol this year, but I don’t know now if I will watch it. It HAS to be orchestrated by the producers, leaving the judges – who, for a change, I really liked this year – looking like a panel of puppets. Those girls who sang with the protegy, Lauren, were fantastic. Do you also think that they took their elimination, both onstage and later for the cameras, just a little too well? Hmmmmm…….

      • David B says:

        I completely agree with this thread on Lauren’s group especially
        the tall girl. Wasn’t it interesting that J Lo and crew were completely in their glory while the performance was going on only to eliminate all but Lauren. I did not see any other performances where the judges were that thrilled with the work only to toss off 3 of the 4 performers. I have to believe this is totally rigged like Professional wrestling. I will continue to watch since I really enjoy the artists.

  9. kts says:

    Are they not still doing the disclaimer in the end credits that the producers get a say in the judging? The last couple years, I’ve become less and less interested in Hollywood Week–just get me to the Top 12, then I’ll pay attention. I especially hate the completely arbitrary cut to the Top 50 or 40 or whatever they choose–when the next episode shows them heading to the judges to be told yay or nay, based on…what, exactly given that there hasn’t been any more singing in the meantime. There’s no reason that the judges couldn’t say yay or nay before that moment, other than getting more emotional drama out of it all. Ugh. Just get to the singing.

  10. Carlaria says:

    Where was Harvard girl Molly last night? I was looking forward to hearing her again. I think Deandre (from the teens group) has potential and I’m looking forward to hearing him again (singing more that a few notes!)

    • Dee says:

      Molly was the White House intern right? I was wondering the same thing. I really hope she made it, she was my favorite audtition.

    • Paul says:

      I think Molly was shown REALLY fast as they were forming groups. So I think she’s still there (I assume we would’ve seen her had she been cut!) but who knows!

  11. Sue says:

    I think it’s important to have a group round in this competition. It’s like a little microcosm of what a week on Idol will be like i.e. Ford video’s, learning songs quickly, events, interviews….all in one week. It’s a way to see if contestants can learn the songs and handle the pressure. While Jacee did handle the pressure, he did not learn the song. If he does make it through, I don’t know how he’ll do on the Idol stage.

    Absolutely LOVED Ashton Jones and want more Casey Abrams. I wish we’d see more Paul McDonald though.

    • Jaded says:

      I agree about Paul McDonald! I spent the entire 2 hours hoping to hear even just a second of him and got nothing!

    • sherimoonzombie says:

      Grrrr, yet another show with no chance to hear Paul McDonald. I did see the briefest glimpse of him in the seats waiting to perform. But then….nada.

  12. darclyte says:

    Has anyone else picked up on the orange dots on the contestant’s photos that the judges look at? In every case, those with orange dots have been featured singers while those without them have not. I’m assuming the dots mean that a producer (either Nigel or Cecile) “like” them, and those with 2 dots are “liked” by both.

    Sad that Adrienne and the country gal who think everyone believes country folk are backwards both got the axe. They made it look like John Wayne didn’t make it, but I saw him in the preview for tonight’s episode. Funny that with regards to the 2 couples, both guys seemed stronger at their initial auditions, but they’re both gone and both women are left. Jacee should have been cut during groups, but I highly doubt he’ll make the next cut. I also thought the gals who sang with Lauren were pretty good, and I’m guessing that they didn’t identify her and her age when she sang to Steven Tyler because they recognized that it was a “little creepy.”

    • Yo says:

      Wow! You are either very observant or have a very large television.

      • Linda says:

        It’s probably a very large television in high def!! LOL!

        • Jana says:

          I have a large television and I have noticed these markings on the photos. I noticed them more in the previous Hollywood episode. Some of the photos last week appeared to have X’s marked on them. I think someone needs to go back and research this.

    • Megan says:

      I have noticed the dots, lol, and was wondering the same thing. There are also pictures with X’s on them, but some of them are the “favs” and have easily gone through, so hard to tell the rhyme and reason.

      When I first noticed the dots though, they were so obvious that I could’t believe TPTB would actually be THAT obvious about who they were pimping, especially considering how easy it is to hide those kinds of details. So, IDK.

      I’ll join the chorus of those who aren’t fans of Lauren. IMO, they did that whole sequence to highlight that EVERYONE LOVES HER! YAY! CHEERS! Because they had all the other girls hugging her and cheering her on when she was the only one through. So staged, lol.

      • Robin C says:

        I thought I saw some photos with checkmarks and some with X’s?

      • syke says:

        Yes, yes. I was a fan. From her audition, you could tell she was talented, but the producers may be leading her to the slaughter. Nobody likes the teacher’s pet and the voters may turn on her. Unless they include that stupid (and obvious) judges’ overriding vote thing again this year?

    • marie says:

      Wow, I am impressed! Good catch re the organge dots. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they mean exactly what you think they do.

    • katymay says:

      Very interesting about the orange dots-would love for someone to really look into this. The other girls in Lauren’s group-especially the tall brunette- were far superior-so what gives? I too suspect that most are pre-selected, but I think some are pre-selected for elimination based on other factors-i.e. background checks that didn’t come out well. I was rather shocked at some poor singers that were put through, and some wonderful singers who were eliminated.
      Ashton has already had some success, but she seems to be a whole ‘nother level from most of the rest. I would guess her to end up top five…

    • Chris says:

      I noticed those dots too and I also assumed they were placed on the photos to “guide” the judges in make their “choices”. The producers’ manipulations seemed very heavy-handed in this episode. How else to explain the other ladies in Lauren Alaina’s group getting booted? They were sacrificial lambs to Nigel’s quest for the next Kesha. The whole Tyler in a chair extended flirting was over the top obvious producer driven. It was also quite creepy given that we’ve been hammered with the “She’s ONLY 16” for weeks.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      And John Wayne wasn’t actually good when we did see him in group.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Hey Snsetblaze – Steven Tyler’s comment was hilarious,though. Tyler said something like “John Wayne, you sound like you just rode your white horse in from the Apollo Theater”. :-)

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      darclyte – I have also noticed those orange dots. I think John Wayne made it through.
      And was it just me, or did anyone else notice the women/girls in Lauren’s group didn’t seem all that upset when they didn’t get sent through? They all seemed rather chipper as they walked away. Perhaps some people that are talented and confident get into the middle of the fray and decide this just isn’t for them – who knows?

  13. Erin says:

    What about Harvard girl??? Did she make it through? Just because she doesn’t have a sob story is no reason to not show her results!

  14. Dana says:

    I think the “li” in “Clint Jun Gamboa” should be changed to a “u.” He made me kinda hate him for kicking Jacee out of the group. The douchey white glasses didn’t help his cause. I do agree that they need to send Jacee home to grow up a bit more, though. I have a feeling he’ll be crying every week that he makes it further into the competition otherwise.

    They mentioned Emily Anne Reed long enough to say she’d been cut.

  15. K says:

    You’re right, this Lauren Alaina business seems a little obvious. Maybe even a little . . . too obvious?

  16. Yo says:

    I’m with you, Michael, I could not fathom why the singers with Blonde Lauren got cut; they were considerably better than she was. Louisiana Lauren was good, though.

  17. Mary says:

    Thanks for the shout-out to Tami Gosnell! I still remember her “Whipping Post”. Crazy good.

  18. Lilly says:

    I think this was the best show of the season. I loved seeing so much talent.

  19. Paco says:

    Im glad Jordan Doresy showed his true colors last night cuz I INTENSELY disliked him from the moment he appeared on my television and I could never understand why people liked him so much.

  20. Linda says:

    I didn’t watch last night but after reading the recap, I didn’t see anything about the guy who had been in the horrible accident last year, Stefano something…..Where was he?

    • JeffNYC says:

      They didn’t show Stefano sing at all. In fact, I don’t recall even seeing his face! But I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see him tonight…he’s too good of a singer (and he’s got a good back story) to not make it a bit further!!

  21. Dayna says:

    Where’s John Wayne??? I keep thinking that I spot him but they refuse to focus on him.

  22. Owen says:

    Okay, the Lauren pimpage BETTER start working against her…soo obvious. For Lauren’s group only, four equally talented ladies are chosen by Nigel to sing to Steven. And its sorta fun and memorable. ALL the girls are equally poised and talented, but to point out with a big red finger WHICH of these fun and memorable girls is the MOST poised and talented, he has to give the hook to the three who are NOT Lauren.

  23. albert says:

    My sympathies are to Jessica Yantz who paired up with Tiffany. She’s 28 so she won’t get another chance. (I thought she was beautiful to boot!)

  24. Lispill says:

    I think Randy had to have been drunk to call Devyn’s performance shouty … what was that about, she did way better and Chris, and actually tried to dress up because that’s what the judges told her to do. I’m specially pissed we didn’t get to hear her last week on the first round.

    Once again, Idol starts out by disappointing me. Letting through that Corey guy, who butchered not only the lyrics, but also the melody and the notes of his song, and cutting Devyn Rush was just a crime.

    • Grace says:

      Oh that was unbelievable! What show was that guy listening to?? I thought she sounded awesome, as usual, and if that was her worst performance? What a waste…

      It’s annoying when your favorites get let go without you getting to hear them, but it’s almost WORSE when you do, and you can see that they made a mistake. Letting Devyn go while Jacqueline made it through? Cutting Rob Bolin when they JUST put little Jacee through despite messing up just as badly? ARGH!!

  25. susela says:

    Rob Bolin essentially knocked himself out of the competition with his negativity and defeatist attitude. He should never have done group with his ex-girlfriend; when he’s with her, he’s always reminded of somehow not being “good enough.” It clearly sapped his confidence.

    • betsy says:

      and, GEEZ, no wonder she doesn’t want to get back together with him – being a negative whiner baby who refuses to really TRY is not very attractive.

    • kb23 says:

      Do you really think Rob was actually allowed to look for another group? The producers have made him stick with the ex for the stupid story. I felt like he has been coerced from the beginning to be around her – he obviously doesn’t want to be.

  26. Jane says:

    Just another manipulated idol show. I thought this year would be different with the new judges, but no. Why were Lauren’s group sent home? They were MUCH better than some of the contestants that made it through:Holly, the first group, and a couple of the stage mom’s kids, and both girls with Rob. Grated he sucked in the group, but they weren’t that good either. If they were basing some of them on their past performances, Rob should have gotten a 2nd chance. I really don’t want a female Justin Bieber. I feel like that’s what they are looking for by lowering the age requirement and pimping the young contestants. They’ll have a longer shelf life I guess?

  27. susela says:

    Lauren’s schtick of roping Steven Tyler into her every performance is getting old fast.

  28. betsy says:

    Who was the blonde guy with all the personality who sang so effortlessly? I loved him! But I’d never seen him before (that I can remember) and I don’t remember his name.

  29. I only wish they would’ve used a recording of Katelyn Epperly singing “The Scientist.” Slezak – I know you agree!!

  30. Sally in Chicago says:

    Hi Slezak, here’s my take:
    “Which is really the only way to explain how the judges gave the thumbs-down sign to the three unidentified women who joined Lauren in serenading Steven Tyler with a rendition of “Some Kind of Wonderful.”” Hmmm…Lauren had the best personality, maybe that’s why she was a cut above. or could it be that Steven heard those notes close-up while being serenaded and persuaded the judges otherwise. But from my livingroom, they were all good singers.

    “The “I Might Have to Consider Reversing My Policy on Rooting Against 15- and 16-Year-Olds” Trophy”
    I loved the teens, they received a standing O.

  31. Suncatcher says:

    Wish we got to see more singing and less drama with the “Rob Bolin Trio” and the “Ashley Sullivan Horror Show.”

    Rob’s girlfriend knew he was a loser and dumped him – now the whole country knows he’s a sniveling, whining, loser too. Methinks Rob is destine to do solos for years to come. Ashley, on the other hand should get an agent and do Kleenex ads. She’d clean up.

    I agree with many here – for the first time in Season 10, the judging was erratic, at best. Good singers sent home while those who were the “ghosts of Season 9” were kept to haunt us for weeks to come.

  32. Jonathan Woo says:

    Where was Molly Dewolf Swensen?

  33. GingerSnap says:

    There were 39 groups. I counted 20 groups that we saw (some for only long enough to hear they were bad and gone) plus 11 individual singers we were told are gone. If those 11 individuals were not in the same group, the number of groups we caught a glimpse of was 31. That’s 8 groups we saw or heard nothing from. Chances are we’ll see those few individuals with early promise tonight.

  34. marie says:

    Mr. Slezak, I’m as cynical as the next “guy,” but I for one believed Scott was sincere in his apology to Jaycee. However, I agree that the thing with the guy opening his door shirtless seemed completely staged.

    How many times, a couple of seasons ago, did I post comments refuting other viewers’ assertions that Adam Lambert “screamed”? If I had a dollar for each time I did…well, now, I find myself on the other side, because producers’ darling James, their obvious but way-off-the-mark chosen heir apparent to Adam, really DOES scream, shriek, and screech. Seriously, there is a very unpleasant tone to this guy’s voice, and between the screams, there’s simply nothing. Yet they are cramming him down our throats.

    Look, they ARE casting a reality TV show just as much as, if not more than, conducting a singing contest, and clearly the producers are mandating some choices here, James being one of them. Unless the judges were actually hearing something very different from what has come through onscreen so far, James does not have the talent to be in the competition at this point. I can’t believe the judges don’t hear that. To me, this shows that they are definitely being told that James stays on the show. Same with Alaina, who was absolutely no better than her group mates; she stays, they are dismissed.

    Something stinks here.

    • marie says:

      Whoops, I was referring to LAUREN Alaina, of course – see, she hasn’t even made enough of a good impression on me for me to bother to remember her name!

      • Marta says:

        You are on the right track in putting your finger on the issues I know many of us have with James Durbin (and Lauren). Very nicely worded…
        I think the producers thought they might strike gold with James and his back story, but we as viewers no there is just not enough there. Something very unappealing in a story that could be something we root for.
        I tend to believe that after Season 8, a few people told that kid “Hey- you kinda resemble Adam Lambert (have you seen Lambert’s HS photos?) and could sound like him…” and so he took it and ran. There is no way that kid was innately edgy, hitting high wailing notes, and donning a Steven Tyler scarf off his bum.
        For his sake and ours, I hope he didn’t make it to the voting rounds.

        • marie says:

          LOL, yes, I’ve seen Adam’s HS photos, and I think you might be on to something here in terms of James’s motivation. But I think it’s probably unrealistic to hope for that he doesn’t make it to the voting rounds, as he has evidently already been chosen by TPTB.

  35. AJ says:

    From a pure TV character perspective, I kind of like Ashley Sullivan. At least she doesn’t have a sad back story. She just be crazy and I like it. She should team up with the weird blonde guy that looks high. That would be a great duo. Seriously.

  36. AJ says:

    BTW, they better show Rachel Zevita doing her thing. I’ve been a fan of hers for a couple of years now. It would be great if she made it through.

  37. Amy says:

    I do like the loss of antics this season by the judges (step back, step forward, sorry…to say you’ll see us another week and other shenanigans)

    Also, I am nervous that when these pre-ordained contestants (Lauren,James,etc) make it to the voting that a bunch of watchers will jump on Nigel’s bandwagon and vote them through for weeks on end.

    Really sad about Devyn & Adrienne.

  38. Pam says:

    Someone explain to me HOW Jacqueline Dunford keeps getting through? I never liked her voice to begin with, and during group rounds, it was flat-out awful. I’ve had enough of her nasty attitude with a fake smile and her bleached-out plastic hair. Poor Rob Bolin – he never stood a chance. He was never cut out for this show, and being in a group with his ex and the Stepford wife had to be the last straw for him. He should have run off as far and as fast as he could from them. Then again, maybe this was his way of getting out of the Idol machine.

    • GingerSnap says:

      I’m with you there. She was God-awful last night and it’s a shame she made it through when Devyn and the girls in Lauren’s group were sent home. I listened to the show this morning with my eyes closed and both Chelsea’s and Jacqueline’s performances were suspect. I think TPTB see a little “star” quality in her blond looks. Other than that she’s not “memorable” at all.

  39. marie says:

    You know, after 10 seasons, I think I may have finally figured out why they do groups in Hollywood Week: for efficiency (as well as for drama, of course). After, the “group” aspect doesn’t REALLY count in that the contestants are judged individually, but think about it, grouping them into quartets and quintets allows the judges to hear another sample of each singer’s talent or lack thereof within, what, a minute’s time? That cuts the total time needed to hear that many singers down by at least 75%. Very efficient indeed! Add to that the inherent drama / “good reality television” aspects, and the rationale behind “group day” begins to come clear.

  40. Cy says:

    Ugh, I hate Group Night drama. I always pray Idol will show us some good groups that harmoniously come up with amazing routines, and I guess we did get a bit of that with the Pia-Alessandra-Brielle trio and those adorable “The Minors” kids. I have to say, I was quite impressed by Sarina-Joi Crowe out of that crowd—here’s hoping we see more of her (and Deandre Brackensick—what a cutie!).

    I’m hating on a lot of the older contestants that have been pimped heretofore, though: namely Jordan “I’m So Much Better Than You Cuz I’m Hot” Dorsey (and he didn’t even sing half as well as Antoine, from the group he ditched; I’m out for this Dorsey guy’s blood!!) and Clint. Yes, I know you’re probably right about Idol’s Agenda-filled Editing making him out to be a lot more of a jerk than he actually was… but whether they were trying to save themselves or not by eliminating their weakest link, you just don’t do that to someone IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT when he’ll have little to no chance of finding another group who’ll take him in.

    Well, I’m glad it worked out in the end for poor Jaycee when he found Brett’s group, but I do think you’re unfair to blame the poor kid for not being able to learn all the lyrics in a few short hours, especially after all the insanity he’d just been put through. Remember, he’s only 15 years old, and obviously comes from a much less-cutthroat place than Hollywood, so cut him a little slack for being a bit thrown off by his group’s eleventh-hour betrayal, especially after such a long and trying day. I think for the sheer f*ckery that his first group put him through, he deserved to at least survive this elimination, just because there’s no way in hell he could’ve sung his best after all that. And I was actually quite impressed with how he handled himself in the face of his first group’s unsportsmanliness. Can you imagine how much other 15-year-olds (like that Vaness Huggins girl) would’ve b*tched and whined if that had been done to them? I applaud Jaycee’s restraint!

    Speaking of people who handled themselves gracefully, you didn’t mention Julie Yanz, the kind girl who agreed to partner with Tiffany the Unsightly. From what I could hear of her vocal performance (through Tiffany’s off-key melisma “harmony”) was far stronger than those of several people who *did* make the cut (including a certain Jordan Dorsey… geez, I hate that guy…). In this case, she truly did get penalized for her group’s weakness, and it really upsets me that she only ended up with that loser because she was trying to be kind. She took her cut with admirable grace too… I feel she was cheated. Okay, maybe she wouldn’t have made it through to the Top 20 anyway, but I’m still riled that she got penalized for trying to do something kind.

    There was a general lack of justice throughout the group rounds. I agree with all the people you noted who were cut despite out-singing their groupmates who *did* get through. What were the judges hearing, I wonder? I just hope this disconnect won’t continue through the live rounds, because there’s nothing more frustrating than judges giving people an undeserved (good or bad) critique.

    As for Ashley “Trainwreck” Sullivan, I wish they’d spent less time on her pointless drama and shown more of her talented, beautiful groupmates who apparently have miraculously perfect pitch. Those are some *actual* contenders that I’d really like to get to know before the voting starts!

  41. TGB says:

    FYI Slezak, the best version I’ve ever hear of “Hit ‘Em Up Style” is by the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Blu Cantrell + banjo + fiddle + beat boxing = win!

  42. Michelle R. says:

    All I’m saying is that when crazy chick who reminds me of Mackenzie Phillips is discovered in the bathtub with a needle sticking out of her arm, the producers will have no one to blame but their own selves. I mean, allegedly reminds of of an alleged ex-druggie and potentially could end up in a tub, etc…

    I felt sorry for Jaycee and really did think is performance was weakened by the drama and his improv was very sweet. I hope all the little 15 and sixteen year old girls rushed to comfort him. He has no chance of being the next American Idol, but he was bullied by petty little people who are old enough to know better. I hope the hipster glasses guy and the hipster glasses girl do not get together and breed mean little Buddy Holly looking children, not that I think that’s … likely.

  43. darcy's evil twin says:

    Great recap as usual, Slezak – but first the disagreement.

    I really enjoyed the three women from New York that sang first and sang Bruno Mars’ “Grenade”. Go back and listen to it again – the vocals were quite good, and the harmonies reminded me of siblings singing together (like the Andrews sisters). I think they should form a group! Lord, if Kei$ha can make it, those girls are solid gold!

    THANK YOU for identifying Sarah Ames, the tall brunette that sang in Lauren Aliana’s group right after Lauren. She was the singer that sang Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name”. Holy cow, what did she do, p*** in someone’s Post Toasties at the breakfast buffet? My husband looked up from his paper when she started singing and said, “Wow, she can really sing!”. Lauren’s breathy vocals are bothering me – it’s okay for Marilyn Monroe and “happy birthday Mr. President” but that’s about it.

    The women in the group with Ashley Sullivan were quite good. The young black woman (pictured above) was wonderful.

    And I must admit I enjoyed the group with all the kids. I think their age worked to their advantage – they’re accustomed to all those “Mama Roses” bossing them around, and I guarantee you they all sing in a high school and church choir someplace so tight harmonies and singing in a group are nothing out of the ordinary.

    the jury is still out for me on James Durbin and Chris Medina.

  44. wtf says:

    Re the no sleep and no time to rehearse – they’ve got to weed out the men from the boys, so to speak, since the final peeps are going to be starting an exhausting round the clock schedule with solo and group performances on live TV. If they can’t take the heat, don’t even put them in the kitchen…

  45. darcy's evil twin says:

    Just some random thoughts –

    There MUST be some manipulation going on with some of these contestants. Holy cow if Lythgoe and Company want to hand-pick contestants, why don’t they just hand pick them, put them on a weekly variety show, and leave American Idol alone?

    I was glad to see Scott McCreery isn’t a one trick pony. I’m liking him. I’m also liking Michael Nuss, Carson Huggins (related to Victoria?), the guy named Caleb, and several women/girls whose names I can’t remember. Oh, and the kid that looks like he belongs in the cast of “Jersey Boys”.

    Rob Bolin should have hooked up with Tiffany Rios and the cute blonde. Couldn’t have been any worse. Did Rob think by doing this American Idol gig he and Chelsee might get back together? Do the producers think Chelsee and Jaqueline might become a couple? You have to wonder because there is all kinds of crazy going on in that picture.

    I was sorry about Adrienne – of all the backstories, hers was the most interesting, IMO.

    I guess I’m in the minority but I agreed with Randy about Devyn Rush. I preferred her quieter, jazzy style.

    I haven’t been a big Brett Lowenstern fan but I did like his vocals on “Mercy”. It’s a song well-suited for him.

    I’m also enjoying the judges giving contestants positive feedback while they’re performing.

    • sherimoonzombie says:

      Lol, I would guess the “Jersey Boys” kid is probably Robbie Rosen. He impressed me in the group tonight — more than previously. I totally agree with you about Scott McCreery and Brett Lowenstern too.

  46. James says:

    Sucks that Rob went home…guess he could not take all the crazyness of his ex and that random hot chick in their group Jaqueline…one has to wonder if the group would be a lot better if Jacqueline’s BF made it through round one…

    Oh and Chris Medina is average at best…Oh and Clint is a D-bag!

  47. Pam K. says:

    I felt sorry for Rob Bolin, but it was the right call to let him go. However, I would have axed Chelsee Oaks and Jacqueline Dunford along with him — nobody from that last group deserved to move forward.

  48. syb says:

    Not getting the OTT love for Lauren Alaina either. She’s young, she’s blonde, she’s perky, extroverted and a lil’ bit country. That’s all swell, but I’ve heard a dozen ladies who sing better, two of whom were in her group last night. I bet there are at least a dozen and half more who sing better, but we’ll never hear them.

    If Nigel truly loves Ms. Alaina and wants her to win, he’d do well not to alienate viewers with airtime overkill. Think Danny Gokey, Carly Smithson, Kat McPhee etc. et. al.

  49. betsy says:

    my boyfriend said the perfect thing about the jaycee incident – the judges should have told the team who kicked him at (at 1:00 a.m.!) that they sing great, now go home and work on your character.

  50. millie ann says:

    This is where I really miss Simon. These judges, Randy, JLo, Tyler, don’t seem to be picking anyone. They seem like stooges who just pick or reject anyone the producers tell them to. Simon might have been very harsh, but I do believe he thought for himself. Sure he had his own set of criteria, but what’s going on now is just ridiculous. Quite a few of these realilty shows have lost their way. The spontaneity (sp?) that made these shows exciting in their early seasons has been completely produced out. By “casting the show for personalities” rather than picking the best singers has leached any entertainment value. I know I’m only one viewer, but I’ve already given up on Bachelor and Survivor for those very reasons. And last, I’m starting to believe those other 3 girls who were sent home after singing with Lauren were paid actors. Who takes it that well when you know you did good? It all seemed too staged.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      millie ann, I agree in that I also noticed those three women seemed a bit cheerful to be leaving. But hey, perhaps they WERE happy to be leaving.

      Or, it could have been the editing. Who knows?