American Idol Recap: Jumping Through Groups

Pay no attention to the girl collapsing dramatically at center stage. She is as relevant to bigger picture of American Idol‘s 14th season as Kris Jenner is to the Mideast peace process. (And 10 points to Gryffindor if you asked, “What is a Kris Jenner?“)

Instead, gather up those precious snippets of future Chris Daughtrys and Haley Reinharts singing. Because, bound together in a tightly edited Group Rounds episode, we saw 10, perhaps even 15 vocalists who reminded us not only of the past glories of The House That Made J.Hud an Oscahhh Winner, but also of its future potential.

Like the endless buffet at Golden Corral — I’ve never been, but I have heard the siren call of their “Take-Home Yeast Rolls” ad campaign — there was almost too much to digest in the hour. But hey, this is why we have a DVR rewind function —and why Melinda Doolittle and I bring you an episode of Reality Check every Monday (or occasionally Tuesday) from January ’til early June.

With that said, let’s jump right into handing out a series of awards based on the episode’s continuation of Wednesday’s “Lines of 10” and foray into the first batch of stressed-out quartets.

I understand why Idol’s producers felt compelled to show us Gabby Zonneveld’s emotional collapse after losing her place on “Bottom of the River,” but their decision to stretch it out over two nights was as baffling as the judges sending her through to the next round.

Katherine Winston’s “Wild Horses” was SmartWater clear and very refreshing. She needs to amp up the emotion in her eyes if she wants to connect with voters, but I could listen to her voice all day.

Them’s fighting words, I know. (Meanwhile, Carrie shivers inside a mansion made of gold bricks.) But that 16-year-old Maddie Walker has not hit a single bad note this season — and her cover of Sugarland’s “Already Gone” was a study in balancing power + restraint.

Loren Scott nailed it when she said she can make a lot of money for the Idol franchise — or some kinda record label — because she makes Helen of Troy look like something that crawled out of the Dumpster behind Stop-N-Shop. But her helium-squeaky tone always seems to land at the corner of Yikes Ave and Not So Sure About That Blvd. I don’t see her thriving without the help of studio wizardry.

The judges told Shi Scott at her audition to focus on her own artistry rather than rely on simple mimicry. And yet there they were applauding a rendition of Duffy’s “Mercy” that was so paint-by-numbers you could buy it for $2.99 at the local KMart kids’ department.

Rayvon Owen’s “Ordinary People” had so much rise and fall, so many delectable little nooks and nuances, that I’m seriously considering recording the audio onto my iPhone, seeing if I can play said file on iTunes, and then play it on repeat ’til it challenges Haley Reinhart’s “Bennie and the Jets” as my No. 1 most played jam of all time.

I sincerely hope we’ve heard the last of Daniel Seavey macking on Jennifer Lopez. I mean, he still loves his mother’s cookies in a baked-goods kinda way, so I just cahhhhn’t with the babyfaced lothario business. Also, I think we need a moratorium on youths singing Ed Sheeran tunes whose lyrics they do not yet fully understand.

Clark Beckham has P2’s t-shirt and jeans coolness and his scruffy-dude intonations — but the way he wraps it around straight-up soul jams is kinda intriguing. His feral howl on “Let’s Get It On” had me saying “mmmhmm” re. his “if the spirit moves you” message.

Current front-runner Jax is waaaay too talented to waste votes on a stupid producer-approved showmance. Then again, if the object of her affections, Qaasim Middleton, doesn’t dial it back with his “everything but the InSinkErator” approach to vocals, he may not be around to tempt her for too long.

For the last five weeks, producers have held back on showing us sumblimely soulful David Oliver Willis — who famously offended Nick Minaj with a terrific take on “Fever” during Season 12’s Vegas round. But his closing glory note on “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours” — part of a rock-solid group along with Clark Beckham and Jesse Cline (sorry, J.None kinda went awry) — reminded us he’s once again one to watch.

Tyanna Jones’ mom did more mentoring in 10 seconds of screen time with the “Dream Team” group than Randy Jackson did in all of Season 13. Honestly, though, her daughter was the only one who deserved to advance after a cover of “I Want You Back” that was as tuneful as an Emergency Broadcast signal. Most surprising of all was black-lipsticked Maddy Hudson barely hitting 50% of her notes.

Team Dimples — the foursome of Michael Simeon, Nick Fratiani, Jaq Mackenzie and Hunter Larsen — proved so entertaining with their cover of “Rude,” I kinda wanted ’em all to be rewarded with an automatic trip to the voting rounds. OK, not really, Jaq’s sing-speak style can get a little whiny, and we didn’t really hear enough of Nick to judge, but Michael and Hunter — if they get inexplicably cut by the judges, they could make a very appealing Paul McDonald-Kendra Chantelle type duo.

Oh, please, we’re not discussing her.

On that note, I pass the mic to you. What did you think of the second installment of Idol’s Season 14 Hollywood Week? Sound off in the comments!

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. Jake says:

    JAX for the win! I love this girl!

  2. Christian says:

    Before we all comment, can
    I just ask for no one to spoil the show please. Thank You :)

    • Temperance says:

      Don’t read the discussion thread of an aired episode if you don’t want to read discussion of the episode. Seriously.

      • Esther says:

        The discussion of an episode means the discussion of the episode and the ones before that. That doesn’t include unwanted information about whose silhouette/voice one could make out in that top24 teaser clip. Some of us have been avoiding to take a closer look at it, since as long as those last eliminations before the live rounds haven’t aired, that kind of stuff actually is a spoiler.

  3. There was a lot of great talent to hear tonight. I hated that they ruined the episode with starting and ending on stupid “dramatic” cliffhangers, but that’s Idol for ya. I like Jaq without the last name and now I kinda like Jaq Mackenzie, Hunter Larsen, Rayvon, Clark and Katherine. Plus there were several others that did well also. This season has a ton of talent it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

  4. Christian says:

    Why didn’t Michael mention the amazing Cody Fry?

    • AMEN. He has SUCH a beautiful voice.

    • SS says:

      Ah yes, the next Clay Aiken.

    • God he was amazing! Cody that is!

    • Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

      Yes, Cody and Rayvon are my two favorite male singers thus far. Both of them can clearly sing without hitting bum notes or being forced to do glory runs.

      I haven’t made my mind up about my favorite women yet, though I like Tyanna and think she has potential. She IS the one with blue hair, right?

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Cody is an amazing vocalist. I’m not sure American Idol is the right venue for him but he absolutely has a future. His “Lilac Wine” was incredible and he reminds me a bit of (showing my age here)a guy named Eddie Fisher. If Fisher hadn’t divorced America’s Sweetheart Debbie Reynolds to marry Elizabeth Taylor his career would have known no bounds. (Hard to imagine but at one time there was a price to pay with the public for bad behavior). He was one of the best pure vocalists ever.

  5. Gailer says:

    Is Daniel still around to grab the tween demographic?

    • Timmah says:

      There is no tween demographic for this show. But if he can win over the grandmas, he’s got a shot to go far.

      • Puchinsmom says:

        I’m a grandma and I am NOT won over. Too many other contestants who are mature and ready for them to be showcasing the little guys who need a little more time. That said, I do like Tyanna.
        Also really love Hunter. Love her voice AND personality. I don’t get that fake Shi girl. Don’t get the voice at all. And she’s so full of herself. And that teen Maddie with the black lipstick…. it looks very odd. And she’s otherwise a pretty kid. Great talent so far.

      • deedee says:

        I’m not a grandma, but that line of thinking always makes me laugh. Grandmas watching this show aren’t exactly sitting in rocking chairs with a blanket covering their knees, knitting tea-cozies, and calling young people “whippersnappers”. Some grandmas actually – get this – enjoy good music and can spot talent! Hard to fathom, I know.

        • Puchinsmom says:

          Thanks deedee! Although I DO like my oldies.

        • Timmah says:

          I never said grandmas are sitting in rocking chairs unable to spot talent. That’s your stereotype, not mine. I’m merely saying that appealing to an older (and female) demographic is the key to winning this show. If there were a sizeable tween demo, then a guy teleported straight out of 70s rock (who is nonetheless talented) would never have had a chance.

        • Deedee, testify!, I’m a great grandma and still can spot talent and love music and dancing. I think the talent this season is “off the hook”.

      • Jomarch says:

        What planet are you on, that there’s no tween demographic for the show? Oh wait, maybe you get all the numbers sent to you from the network… Or maybe you don’t know what you’re talking about…
        I’m a grandmother, and I think he’s a creepy runt.

        • Timmah says:

          It’s been well-researched by people in the ad business that the average Idol viewer is well over 50. Google it if you don’t believe me.

          • MAB says:

            Everyone use to watch Idol. We would call each other during the show and talk about who we liked and if they were performing well that night. Even my granddaughter who was about 14 then use to watch it with me. Now she is 17 and hasn’t watched it in years. I am the only left that watches it. It is really sad.

          • Puchinsmom says:

            If the average viewer is over 50, why oh why do they pick so many young teens for contestants?

          • LeahKittyS says:

            Because they want to change their demographic, that’s why.

        • HTGR says:

          A few seasons back, A.I. that by far the largest demo was middle aged-plus women from the South.

          • HTGR says:

            Although I believe it skewed a lot younger and more diverse in every way over the first few seasons it was on the air.

      • Jill Moy says:

        Gimme a break. This kid is about as talented as a cockroach!

    • Tom22 says:

      I actually think Daniel has one of the better voices and ways with melodies that we’ve seen. I disagree that he doesn’t put a meaning behind words. My only issue with him is that he’s too cute but THANKFULLY he doesn’t play the cloying mr. innocent and tosses out those jokes about picking up on JLO ! They’re Jokes ! I find the off color nature of the pick up lines refreshing. For me they’re like a “don’t type cast me as some David Archilleto type just because i’m young” in your face sort of thing.

      • I agree with you Tom 22. Today Daniels voice sounded great! Also like Adam and love Qassim Middleton. There might be some fire between him and Jax! Kinda Cute! Unless Qassims mom has something to say about him losing his virginity!

        • Tom22 says:

          hehe on the last part. I remember being 18 and well… there aren’t fences high enough or tightly woven enough to keep two young kids with that sort of natural calling from getting together.. at least self assured kids willing to follow the beat of their own drummbers.

  6. LeahKittyS says:

    Once again, you were on point. Tyanna was the only one in her group who stood out for me. I really like Michael and Nick, and Clark is one to watch. Idol may still be dropping in the ratings, but at least it’s more entertaining this time around. This year the production isn’t as mean.

  7. MaxiMooMoo says:

    Michael, how could you fail to mention Cody Frye? He really stood out for me. I love David Oliver Willis too, he was completely robbed two years in a row!

  8. Ethan says:

    Bless you for posting the link to Haley Reinhart’s amazing video

  9. trimaran12 says:

    Fun episode. I thought Jax and her crush were adorable. I hope that wasn’t contrived for tv. Anyone having a meltdown on stage at this point needs a ticket home. I’d be fine if they potentially gave them an automatic ticket to Hollywood rounds the following year but they are just. not. ready. yet.

    • Temperance says:

      I dunno… Quassim needs to burn that wardrobe immediately. I like his voice, but, boy, the look is seriously hard to look at. Nauseating, actually. He’s look a lot better in a dark t-shirt and jeans… and be much more convincing. The dreads are awesome.

    • Me too, Love Jax and Qassim! Very cute. They made me laugh and they are both great singers! Watch out though cause Qassim also does hip hop dance competitions so he will have a little extra showmanship on stage. I saw him dance on u tube!

  10. I loved Loren in my opinion. Even though the first two times are a little rough, you just cannot deny that underneath that pretty face is a POWERFUL VOICE waiting to come out!!! Check out her youtube channel and see her videos like Fine China or Note To God!!! :)

  11. MAB says:

    I am really enjoying idol this year. I always hated Hollywood week. We would have to endure all the drama of the groups. One time I remember there was a two hour show and we did not even see anyone sing. I think that was the same year we watched that girl throw up. This year they are doing it right even with the girl having a panic attack. It is nothing compared to what the showed the previous years. I even think that it is better with the hour shows instead of dragging out for the two hours. They have less time to fill so they are showing more important stuff. I just hope they continue keep it this way when the live shows begin.

    • Tom22 says:

      Yes i remember that two hour show where we saw almost no singing. The two shows this week were great. As for the drama, we need a little bit I think and I was fine with getting some. I’d have preffered to see the drama around coming to consensus for musical choices instead of watching girls clearly in major emotional crisis though.

  12. karenb says:

    White Chocolate please

  13. Cookely says:

    Wait… What? They have take home yeast rolls now?

  14. danin says:

    Couldn’t find wait to see Rayvon.I thought he wasn’t as good as he was when he auditioned by himself.And I thought Daniel did some better than his first solo audition.Though he was pretty awful that night..Mannn,there are a lot of really fine singers.Let’s see if Idol boogers them up this season.

  15. Lemon says:

    Katherine is amazing. My #1 right now.

  16. Brandy says:

    Dude. Rayvon. He’s quickly becoming my most-liked contestant since Haley Reinhart!

  17. Alan Dvorkis says:

    TEAM DIMPLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Timmah says:

    I want Shi to make the finals because straight males who watch this show (all 3 of us) deserve some eye candy too once in awhile.

    • James says:

      Add Jax and Hunter to that list and I’m sold! ( I’m #2 straight male who watches this btw)

    • Well I am a straight woman, but have to say Shi is extremely beautiful! She is definitely the “eye candy”. The last VERY PRETTY girl they had was Angie Miller! Or at least I thought so.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Oh please. Angie Miller was the last pretty girl? I don’t even know where to begin with that statement (see screen name).
        Try Amber Holcomb, Emily whatever her last name was, Kristen O’Connor etc.

        • Angie Over-rated, Yes I absolutely agree about Amber Holcomb! Gorgeous! Same season as Angie! Well no one last year struck me as very pretty. I loved the whole flirty thing between Amber and Burnell, and that is what kept me interested in that season.

          • Jill Moy says:


            I also loved Amber and Angie. Personally I gave a slight nod to Amber,looks and voice. But both were excellenteee! We agree about 98 % of the time but I disagree on Shi and Daniel.To me, his voice isnt very good….cute kid though! As for Shi, she sounds.
            like she’s drunk with that annoying horrid voice! She would look alright with a little weight. She’s the ” SINGING SCARECROW!” I don’t understand the big following of these 2 singers.

          • Hi Jill, Oh I dont think Shi is a good singer at all, but she is very pretty. I dont really like much of the female singers this year. I like Qaasim Middleton and Adam so far!

      • Jaszy says:

        Yeah, Angie Miller was gorgeous! I agree that Shi is extremely beautiful. Whoever named her gave her the perfect name, Shaina.

        • MC says:

          My all-time faves are much different than those names often bandied around this page. Angie is one of the AI “grads” who still excites me. She has released a new album, “Weathered.” She is easily one of the most talented and beautiful people to ever be on AI imo.

  19. lorie says:

    I never cared much for country music but some of these contestants along with Jimmy Fallon singing with Neil Young are kinda changing my mind.

  20. Bonnie A. says:

    David Oliver Willis! Been wanting to hear him again and he didn’t disappoint. I think Clark Beckham is one I will really watch. There are several girls I am watching, just waiting to narrow it down. Good episodes this week–no too much crazy stuff from Harry either.

  21. Tahoe Mike says:

    Anybody else just mentally add the words “Bus driver,” every time they mention Big Ron Wilson? I was kind of surprised he didn’t get sent back to transporting super heroes tonight.
    I’m also kind of over it with Shi, and a few others who’s names I can’t remember yet. The fainting goat girl can definitely go too.
    It was kind of weird not to have a few delusional divas, and deranged stage moms on group night.

    • Puchinsmom says:

      Never thought I’d feel this way, but I actually missed having some drama. I used to dislike it, but it felt a bit sterile. Maybe it seems more like we are there when we get to see ” behind the scenes ” drama?

    • LeahKittyS says:

      Up-vote for the Sky High reference! But I disagree with you about Shi. There’s something about her I like.

      • Jaszy says:

        Shi is definitely intriguing. I feel that she’s only scratching surface-level at this stage. Something about her is exciting.

        • B says:

          I agree. I was happy they initially send her through; I think she is interesting and definitely has more to often that what we’re seeing. And if nothing else, I think she’d make a great TV personality!

  22. LeahKittyS says:

    You, too? That happens to me sometimes. I have no idea why. I’m not posting links or making long posts anymore.

  23. christopher bee says:

    There´s a bunch of dark horses this year, like Jesse Cline and Team Dimples. This could be an awsome Liveshow season.

  24. carl R says:

    A Race card was used tonight, the young man a Polynesian,/ Shawn/ did not even know the words and sang like a mouse , but the judges let the blond girl /Steffie/ with a grate voice go , ????? it’s just not wright!!!

  25. Kate says:

    Maybe it’s this Bachelor season’s “Prince Farming” effect, but “21-year-old farmer” Michael Simeon does grown-up things to me. He sounded great, but it’s his stage presence that really excites me after a season of lackluster performers — notice the hand movements illustrating all his lyrics on “Rude”?

  26. Delirious says:

    Michael… “(And 10 points to Gryffindor if you asked, “What is a Kris Jenner?“)” – why would you give my 10 points to Gryffindor, instead of my beloved Ravenclaw?

    *shakes fist in the air*

  27. S. says:

    Oh dear God, you just reminded me I’m gonna be invested in this show until early summer.

  28. Dan the critic says:

    The girl that collapsed is probably going to make the top 12 girls, that’s what usually happens with the drama queens. I also liked team dimples.

  29. Tahoe Mike says:

    After watching back a couple of the replays, I think Sal walking the halls late night singing while everyone was sleeping may have been the best performance of the night. His hittin’ on Jho Mr. Smarmy schtick is annoying as all hell, but the guy can sing.

  30. CC says:

    Lots of great talent this season! I have to say when Rayvon Owen sang Ordinary People I got chills! Hope he is sticks around for the long haul!

  31. Ardeth says:

    Really? They let ANY of the “Dream Team” members stay? Andrew Bloom of Shiva Squared (spelling?) was a hundred times better singer than any of those little kids—all four were HORRIBLE. What were the judges thinking?!

    • Puchinsmom says:

      I agree about Andrew Bloom, Ardeth. He had a really nice voice. A zillion times better than Shi, who I do not get at all. She might make a passable actress, but her voice is weird and grating and derivative ( whatever that means)!
      I can only imagine that the judges get overwhelmed with personalities and talent, and HAVE to cut sometime, so their exact thinking is probably a mystery to even themselves!

  32. Rainy says:

    I thought this was a great episode overall (minus the dramatics) with lots of talent, but I think it’s an OUTRAGE that your recap didn’t mention Cody Fry. That was the best damn vocal I’ve heard all week.

  33. praisee says:

    I really love Tyanna & Royvy. Anyone feel the same way too

  34. praisee says:

    I really love Tyanna & Royvy. Anyone feel the same way too?

  35. carlal2014 says:

    Why have two episodes in a row now ended in “To Be Continued…” with someone having an emotional breakdown? Come on Idol, move on from that schtick!

  36. lison says:

    Did anyone see Adam Lasher (bandana guy) on last night’s show? He’s seemed to have disappeared.

  37. Miss AJ says:

    I find it really irksome. It seems like only the teen girls are called out on knowing or not knowing what the lyrics mean when they sing “sexy” or “adult” songs. So I sinceriously thank you, Mr. Slezak, for mentioning the squick of Daniel Seavey singing that song, as well this whole lothario shtick. Just no.

  38. Lyn Jensen says:

    Having seen a spoiler list of the top 24, I can say that if it’s accurate, there are only about four people on it that I’d care to watch or vote for. I’ve got a few more episodes to see if the voting rounds are worth watching.

  39. DAG says:

    I’m the “She” who hates “Shi” because “Shi” is annoying – blech.

  40. James says:

    I really wish they would go back to being a vocal only competition. All the (mostly useless) guitars are really distracting to me. Most of them only seem to know how to half-heartedly strum one or two chords and mainly just use them as a shield. Ditto with piano playing.

    • Timmah says:

      I think you’re seeing a lot of guitars this season because singer-songwriter types are hot right now (Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, etc.) so that’s what they’re looking to find. And considering how the last couple of winners were belters that failed miserably in the business, I’m sure they’d love to go back to having a WGWG winner (or even a girl with a guitar).

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      Agreed fully. Less than 10% of these kids actually know how to properly play the piano or guitar. Let’s just focus on the voice.

  41. Chris says:

    Shi Scott can’t wait for the half white/half black Taylor Swift look alike to be voted off. The producers are putting her through. But she has about as much originality as rice in an Asian restaurant. And that’s being mean to rice.

  42. Simon says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t get all the hype about Rayvon? To me he comes across very fake and cheesy, almost like a Danny Gokey-type contestant, but with a voice like Spencer Lloyd.

  43. Jaszy says:

    Shi is one to watch. I know she has something, if only she can step away from trying to sound like other artists.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      Okay, good. I’m not the only one who sees something in her.

      • IdolFan357 says:

        I like Shi too. She has the looks and the personality of an idol. She seems to know how to market herself. She definitely has made an impression on viewers. I like her a lot and I’m kinda sad to see so many people hating on her. She’s my favorite.

  44. lking says:

    Shi annoys me the more I see her. I really like Jax, Nick, Adam and Maddie.

    • Susan says:

      Shi has NO talent and issuper annoying. and WHERE IS ANTON BUSHNER @MICHAEL SLEZAK

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I agree . Shi is annoying. Shi needs to leave.

    • Well I think she ( Shi) is pretty, but what im about to say, i hope I dont offend anyone. But Shi reminds me of a drag queen. Not in any way a bad thing, I have gone to see our local drag queen shows (Darcell’s here in Portland) and they look absolutely perfect. Sometimes just blows me away. Darcell has been running this great famous place for over 35 years and the reason I said this about Shi is, there was someone working there that looked exactly like her. Same hair, same face! Its crazy! Well anyway its a great show if you are ever in the Portland area! LOL

  45. darcy's evil twin says:

    I started reading this recap and realized I hadn’t watched this episode! For some reason I thought Idol was only on once this week (Wednesday night). When do they get down to the once a week broadcast I kept reading about? Anyway, I am off to watch my DVR!

  46. darcy's evil twin says:

    I am late to the party and just watched the DVR.
    The first group that did “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” was great. I loved David Oliver Willis and Clark Beckham confirmed what I already thought – he is wonderful.

    I was a bit confused about Andrew Bloom not being sent through in Shi’s group. I thought he sounded good and a lot like JT. It’s as if their minds were already made up.

  47. Stacy's Mom says:

    Is it just me, or does Hunter kind of resemble a young Claire Dunphy from Modern Family?

    The dude that was in the naked brothers band is kind of terrible, I think they’re just keeping him for the showmance.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Sleazy Sal gets exposed as a child sex offender and is DQ’d.

  48. Jaime says:

    I don’t see Phillip Phillip 2.0 when I hear Clark Beckham, he reminds me of James Arthur from The X Factor UK, a soulful voice who plays an acoustic guitar (check his “Let’s get it on” cover and you wil see the resemblance”)

  49. darcy the slutty twin says:

    That Shi entity is so exhausting to watch and annoying to listen to.

  50. HTGR says:

    Wow, Team Dimples, hah, was through and through pretty awesome. What a performance!