American Idol Group Rounds Recap: There Is No 'C' or 'R' or 'A' or 'Z' or 'Y' in Team [Updated]

american-idol-group-rounds-recapTearful meltdowns. Blind rage. Physical collapse. These are the hallmarks of American Idol‘s Hollywood Week Group Rounds.

But every member of the Idoloonie Nation knows that amidst the badly botched lyrics, the “is something sprained?” choreography and the violent assaults on harmony, there’s a far more important ritual that occurs when wannabe Kelly Clarksons come together. Sometimes, right in front of our eyes, a star emerges.

Think back to Kris Allen and Matt Giraud’s Season 8 cover of “I Want You Back.” Or Candice Glover serving classic face, voice and attitude on Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops) in Season 12. Or even Frenchie Davis and Kimberley Locke’s legendary Season 2 “Band of Gold.”

RELATED | American Idol Hollywood Week (Night 1) Recap: Can You Feel It Coming to the Airport Tonight?

Yes, sure, it’s the rancor and disappointment that the show’s producers like to highlight, but — as it always is with Idol — it’s the powerhouse singing that sticks in the memory like a stubborn tumeric stain on an off-white dishtowel.

PHOTOS | American Idol: 21 Best Auditions of Season 13

And so, while an overinvested stage mom, a flu-addled girl with a speaking voice like Fantasia Barrino and a semi-talented chick railing against the judges’ agenda got the bulk of the screentime during tonight’s one-hour installment, I’m gonna choose to instead focus this recap on five contestants whose stellar group performances signaled genuine Top 10 potential:

RELATED | Pilot Season 2014: Scoop on This Fall’s (Possible) New Shows and Who’s Starring In Them

5. Nica Nashae | Not only did the booming-voiced diva sweetly help teammate Jessica Meuse with her lyrics, but she deftly handled Beyoncé’s rapid “Single Ladies” wordplay and showcased a rich, distinctive tone in the process. Yes I liked it and I wanna throw some votes at it.

4. Paula Hunt | The Air Force singer’s unforgettable audition — a slow, deeply felt Etta James cover — couldn’t have been more different than her sassy, funked-up cover of The Band Perry’s “Done.” That’s the kind of genre-spanning versatility that can transform a terrific vocalist into a serious Idol contender.

3. David Oliver Willis and Sarina Joi Crowe | The night’s opening performance featured these two Hollywood Week vets (along with fellow returning contestant Tony Crowe) tackling “Too Close” with so much feeling and charisma that it obliterated any memories of Alex Clare’s original. That twist of a capella harmony at the end provided an additional upgrade — as did the judges taking a moment to explain to Tony why he was the one who didn’t advance to the next round. Class and maturity during Hollywood week? Now I’ve seen it all!

2. Briana Oakley | How many times have you gone back and replayed the Season 12 Hollywood Week evictee’s muscular, playful riffing on “Royals”? (I’ve got her wicked high note on “I’ll ruuuuuuuuuule” on repeat loop in my brain as I write this sentence. And it ruuuuuuuuules.)

1. Jena Asciutto | I don’t really care about the tale of Sikenya Thompson and her flu-induced, hotel-room hibernation. What matters is Jena’s tone — rich and heartburn-inducing as expensive paté — and the unique cadence she brought to “Too Close.” (Errrbody loves “Too Close,” eh?) Sure, I wish we’d heard more than 11 seconds of Jena’s singing, but it was enough to catapult her to the upper echelon of my Season 13 list.

A few additional observations…

* I’m liking the tougher, more direct J.Lo. But then again, we’re still in the edited portion of the season, so forgive me if I don’t start a slow clap till she’s proven herself into the live rounds.

* I’m also liking Per Blankens’ heavier focus on music and positivity. But that said, I’d have liked maybe 25% more actual singing in this installment. (I’m not crazy, am I?)

* Yeah, it was painful when Megan Miller blanked on the lyrics to “Best I Ever Had,” but that final run of glory notes dug her right out that hole, while Alyssa Siebkin’s defeated facial expressions and slouched body language assured her six-feet-under fate. Group member Spencer Lloyd, meanwhile, didn’t really stand out vocally, did he? [Bonus points to Megan for admitting on camera: “Thank you, Jesus. I didn’t deserve that.”]

* Oh, Tiquila! [Sniffle.] I’ll look for you on the Gospel charts!

* I wonder if Keith London got cut for freaking out the judges with a rendition of “I Kissed a Girl” (the Jill Sobule jam, not the Katy Perry one, obvs). Either way, wouldn’t it have been nice to get 30 seconds of footage to justify his exit?

* Not sad to see the sound healer get the boot.

* I know John Fox was an early fave from the auditions, but his cover of “Royals” had less flow than a stagnant goldfish bowl.

* I truly hope that if Jessica Meuse makes the voting rounds, that she’s judged solely on the strength of her performances — and not on the rantings and complaints of Stephanie Hanvey’s mom.

* If Harry Connick Jr. thinks “Say My Name” isn’t a good vocal showcase, then clealry he didn’t watch Alex & Sierra’s rendition on Season 3 of The X Factor. (Blasphemous, right?)

With that, let me turn things over to you.

What did you think of Night 2 of Season 13 Hollywood Week? Which singers stood out for you? Which moments made you cringe? And have you already got a favorite heading into the Live Rounds? Sound off below!

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!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Linda says:

    I LOVE Majesty Rose! Was sorry she wasn’t shown on Group night, but I can’t imagine she was cut. She’s too good. She’s the only one this season so far who gives my goose bumps!

  2. Dhppy says:

    If Harry Connick Jr. had a problem with Say My Name, he should have taken it up with the production that approved the song, not the contestants.

    Also, what was the deal with the final “I Want You Back” group. I found almost all of them to be screechy and horrible. They blew past young Michael Jackson’s octaves and headed for Minnie Riperton.

    • MC says:

      It’s one of those things where the original material is so strong that people think the cover must have been good. I find that happens often on these singing shows, as both judges and viewers tend to overrate certain performances.

      • Amy says:

        And they let young Johnny Newcomb (“Eddy Veddar”…apparently), who showed promise, go because he was “derivative” and let these guys who seemed to be Michael Jackson, even a tad Bruno Mars wanna-be’s, who didn’t even seem as musical as Johnny, pass? Not saying JN had a chance to win it, not saying he was my favorite (because I know I keep mentioning him, but only because I was so surprised they didn’t like him at all), only that I thought he deserved to go farther, and I wanted to see more from him. To Johnny I say, at only 16…practice, evolve your own style & sound, and come back next year!

  3. mary says:

    Group rounds are still going on next week. So if you didn’t see/hear a singer mentioned, they could be on then.

  4. gracelessk says:

    For anyone that liked him, I read an article where David Luning gave an interview, and he was cut in the group rounds. Thought I’d share in case anyone else was a fan and was bummed not to hear him sing after auditions.

  5. Lisa says:

    Stephanie’s mom should have immediately been escorted to the door & never allowed back!! How rude to bring others down with your negativity!! She looked like she wanted on stage as much as she was dancing in the audience & making an ASS out of herself & her poor daughter Stephanie. Jessica was very mature to walk away because I probably would have called Stephanie’s mom a BITCH!!!! Jessica you have a GREAT voice. Don’t let haters bring you down to their level because Stephanie’s mom was jealous of you.

    • Amy says:

      Totally agree. Felt so bad for her daughter…especially at the end when she was trying to talk, you could see she got distracted from what she was saying, and they let her mom swoop in and grab her off screen because she didn’t want her talking negatively?! Poor kid seemed like she must lead a life being so controlled by that mess of a mom, who obviously needs her own stage.

  6. Lisa says:

    Stephanie’s mom looked like she wanted on stage as much as she was dancing in the audience & making an ASS out of herself & her poor daughter Stephanie. Doesn’t the mom realize how embarassing that is for her daughter,specially on tv.Jessica was very mature to walk away because I probably would have called Stephanie’s mom a BITCH!!!! Jessica you have a GREAT voice. Don’t let haters bring you down to their level because Stephanie’s mom was jealous of you.Stephanie is more mature than her mom!!!

  7. Jim Welker says:

    Michael, if you read this: What do you think of standout Melanie Porras not even singing a note on the Hollywood show and was eliminated? Plenty of average singers sang in that episode! It’s very strange to me! I was told she was for A SPLIT SECOND shown in a group of persons who were eliminated! I sure miss her being in a group! THANK YOU!

    • deedee says:

      Melanie Porras was eliminated? I missed that. Wow, she and Tequila were two of the very few who stood out for me during the city auditions. Man, now I’m even more bummed!

  8. Leela says:

    Shame on you, Michael, for saying anything nice about JLo – LOL! Seriously, though, she hasn’t changed at all and I dread what she’s going to do during the live shows. Hopefully she & Harry will shut up during the performances and actually listen.

  9. Jim Welker says:

    Actually, Deedee, I put on a comment “What happened to Melanie Porras” and a person answered me that she was seen for a split second in a group that was eliminated! I never saw it! I commented that I never saw her in any group and was wondering what happened to her! They never showed her leaving the competition, or for that matter, singing one note! WHAT A SHAME…She had star quality!

    • Amy says:

      Was she the guitar playing girl from Georgia, with long curly blonde hair?!! She was one of my favorites that I thought would go far?! If that’s her, I loved her! Are we sure she was eliminated? I don’t even get some of these choices?

      • I’m Melanie’s grandmother, and yes, speaking for her family, we don’t know what happened. After Detroit, she disappeared, except for a millisecond glimpse of her as they arrived by bus to the hangar. I understand she also was at the theater the next day, but not a mention or a sign of her. If anyone hears any inside info on what happened, we would love to know.

  10. Lauren says:

    As the weeks go on I feel myself falling out of love with Harry Connick Jr. I originally thought he was great, I like that he owns his opinions, is being honest with these contestants and clearly has the musical knowledge to back up his comments but he is definitely an alpha male and sometimes he can come across as quite aggressive and it’s off putting. And whilst he is funny and charismatic, I feel that some of his behaviour is very ‘look at me, look at me’
    I’m hoping that I’m just being a bit sensitive and that he ends up being a great judge and lives up to the hype of his first episode.

    • I have to agree. I love Harry and think he is hilarious, however,when he imitates the contestants, it sometimes comes across as mockery, which makes me uncomfortable.

      • Amy says:

        Totally agree…been thinking exact same things re: Harry. Hate the mocking of contestants…was surprised the producers thought that would be “cute” or funny? It is in poor taste and does him nor the show any good. And I agree…I like his judging, his frankness, his knowledge and his sense of humor…but hate his antics that do indeed seem very “look at me!….I’m so funny and I’m so giddy to be on Idol!!” It’s goofy.

  11. Jim Welker says:

    I agree with you Lauren…Harry is losing his luster! He now sends through average singers! To me, he just isn’t the same as in the first few episodes!

  12. Jess says:

    I’m just so tired of Harry Connick Jr’s constant attention wh*ring. I found it ironic when he criticized Keith London for the gimmick thing when Harry is always turning to antics to get some spotlight. Of course, they say we dislike in others what we dislike in ourselves.

  13. It’s remarkable to pay a quick visit this site and reading the views of all mates about this post, while I am also
    eager of getting familiarity.