American Idol Recap: Sleepless? Please Skedaddle!

“Can anybody find me somebody to love?”

I posed one of Queen’s most plaintive lyrics for most of Wednesday’s American Idol “Group Rounds” telecast — and unfortunately, only a handful of contestants answered the call. There were forgotten lyrics, cacophonous harmonies, a few instances of face-down-on-the-carpet exhaustion and a smattering of “I didn’t come here to make friends” squawking. But “Holy crap, I want to know that contestant’s 877-number so I can start voting for him/her right this second!” vocals were in short supply.

Of course, for anyone who’s hung around for 14 seasons in the House That Melinda Doolittle Gentrified, this isn’t a surprising phenomenon. For every Frenchie Davis-Kimberley Locke “Band of Gold,” there’ve been a dozen contestants reading off the side of a prescription pill bottle — insomnia! nausea! an inability to operate heavy machinery! feelings of collapse! — in an attempt to explain why they failed to excel when smooshed together with strangers and forced to learn unfamiliar songs overnight.

I guess the last five weeks of Idol — which have hinted at J.Lo, Keith and Harry unearthing an especially deep talent pool this time around — raised my hopes to unrealistic levels. Consider this a promise that your cynical recapper has been rebuked, recalibrated and recommitted to the cause. And on that note, let’s boil tonight’s one-hour show down to the three best, three worst — and two head-scratching-est — moments:

1. I was really starting to get irked by the extended highlight reel of that girl whose name I’m not going to bother Googling having a meltdown and trying to break free from Team Soul Connection. But I forgot all that mess after fellow group member Sarina-Joi Crowe delivered a scorching twist on Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” — complete with deft twists on the tempo and melody, Tina Turner-esque grittiness and a pair of leopard-print boots worth of Empire’s Cookie (aka She Who Should Be Everyone’s Style Icon/Life Coach/Spirit Animal). No one else I’ve seen this season says “automatic Top 10” to me quite like Sarina.

2. The night’s second act — the quartet of Keri Lynn Roche, Riley Bria, Emily Brooke and Jake Black — got set up via “Oh, no! Emily’s got a case of the voms!” backstory. But their effortless vocal blend and quiet soul on “With a Little Help From My Friends” made them the most obvious “you’re all advancing!” quartet of the season.

3 (tie). I’m not quote sure why Karla Davis and Kory Wheeler got cut — the producers really didn’t give us enough evidence to be able to make an informed decision — but their cohorts Lovey James and especially Jess Lamb utterly made me hear “All About That Bass” like it was touching my ears for the very first time (and that’s no small accomplishment).

3 (tie). Tanya Mackenna received a lot less audition-round attention than Rocky Peter, but by the time “Rocky’s Crew” had finished mangling “Come and Get It,” it was clear Tanya was the only member of the group with the chops to go on. And despite her lack of Tragic Backstory (TM), the judges made the right through and made her the only survivor of the four-vocalist pileup.

1. How in the name of J.Lo’s exposed midriff did Alexis Danielle Granville — She Who Ended Last Week’s Episode With a Panic-Attack Collapse — get a pass to the next round? I mean, not only does this young lady clearly not have the emotional strength to survive the pressure cooker of live shows, but she treated Train’s “Drive By” like a hyena picking away the last bit of meat off a gazelle’s bones. Sure, Sal Valentinetti cheesy Sinatra impression wasn’t great, either, but it had to sting to have the judges throw a lifeline to his weakest group member while he was left adrift. (Also: This group gave us the first sign of weakness from Jax — and now I’m a little scared.)

2. I feel for Rocky Peter that he’s homeless — I really and truly do. But I think Idol — and all reality competition series — need to help young talent understand that even advancing to the voting rounds will not automatically put a roof over the head of yourself/your mother/your child/your adorable puppy.

3. I’m fine that the judges didn’t cut Joey Cook for the crime of forgetting her lyrics, but I’m not sure Harry Connick Jr. necessarily needed to praise her so aggressively for covering what was, any way you slice it, a pretty major mistake.

1. I might catch flack from fellow Belmont University grad/Reality Check cohost Melinda Doolittle, but Blvd. (that quartet from her alma matter) was not as good on their rendition of “Since U Been Gone” as the judges claimed. Rayvon Owen’s high note was like a skeet — it flew high, then exploded — while the entire arrangement sounded a little too high for Piper Jones’ comfort zone. (Also, how come the producers didn’t bother to I.D. the group’s fourth member? Maddening!)

2. Similarly, I wasn’t as enamoured of LKYCO (Ladies Keep Your Clothes On) — or to be specific, the relentless ad-libbing and frilliness they brought to “Story of My Life.” I should clarify that Savion Wright’s big notes were pretty sublime, but Qaasim Middleton and Trevor Douglas need to look up the word “restraint” in the dictionary — then apply said definition to their vocal stylings.

3. All season, I’ve been spilling haterade over Shannon Berthiaume. But her scratchy-beautiful riffing on “Somebody to Love” has me rethinking everything I’ve said all season on Reality Check. (Remember: It is an Idoloonie’s prerogative to change his mind!)

On that controversial note, I pass the mic to you. What did you think of this Wednesday’s Idol? Who were your faves? Who’d have gotten your “veto”? 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. Gailer says:

    Too much Jax pimping

    • Gailer says:

      Sorry! For double post

      • I really didn’t think they pimped her too much. Tonight was kinda weak compared to past episodes. There were a few nice performances like Mark Andrew, Tanya, Jess Lamb, Sarina-Joi, Cody and Savion. But there were a lot of weakness in the contestants. I think I am way over Hollywood Anderson at this point. Alex Shier, Cindy Maslov, Qassim Middleton and Daniel Seavy and most of Riley Bria’s group. I don’t think tonight was a great representation of some of the stronger contestants we have seen thus far. Hopefully things will get better now that group rounds are over.

    • Christian says:

      They really haven’t pimped her that much. I actually thought Jax was pretty good on Drive By, but that’s just me. To be honest she is my favorite

    • Timmah says:

      Agreed. Does she have to be featured on every episode?

      • Like I said earlier on last week, the New Jena Irene? Let the pimping begin. I dont like it when they try to shove a contestant down our throat. No one likes to be “force fed”. Let us like the person on OUR choosing for OUR reasons. I think we almost DONT want the one they are pushing at us. It doesnt look fair to the other great contestants either when they give the all the attention to one person EVERY episode. It smells like favortism!

      • whowho says:

        Would we even recognize her if she didn’t have the X under her left eye?

    • Temperance says:

      Not enough Jax pimping for me! There really isn’t such a thing as too much Jax (or Clark) pimping…

  2. Have A Nice Day says:

    Sarina getting airtime singlehandedly makes this episode worth it. That is all.

  3. DarkDefender says:

    If Shannon Berthiaume does not make the top 13.. She needs to call BBC America STAT and book a stint as one off the clones.. She looks like a teenage Tatiana Maslany.

  4. Harrison says:

    Sarina was so amazing! I want her to make Top 10 so bad!

  5. Mafs95 says:

    Guys, let’s make bets… who’s gonna have the Haley Reinhart-esque Idol type of journey that goes from “I didn’t like her at the beginning” to “OMG she’s really good!!!”???

    Shannon? Loren (watch her Skyfall solo now on Youtube!!!)? Shi? Alexis?

    I don’t know, but I’ll place my bet on Loren right now.

  6. Rowan says:

    Sarina Joi Crowe is the stand out for me. That voice is absolutely INSANE and she’s got so much personality on stage. She’s got potential to be incredible. I also really liked Riley Bria a lot. He can play guitar WELL, his voice is good, and he’s adorable. There’s a huge market for him. Rayvon continues to impress me. This season, so far, is absolutely killer and full of real, raw talent. I like seeing contestants like who just have raw talent, like Alexis and Shannon. It should be an interesting season .

  7. toadily says:

    Alexis the melt-down queen, who screeched her glory note, stays and the melodious, big brother Sal leaves? Rats. Guy could sing and was such a natural on camera. Still, lots of talent this year. Will Hollywood last?

    • Puchinsmom says:

      I liked Sal. He was a good guy (joking with JLO notwithstanding ). He invited Alexis into the group when she was alone. And he was gracious even after he got cut. I’m a sucker for the nice ones. Remember Scott Mcreery’s tears after group round when he felt bad for not sticking up for that other young kid? Those moments stick with you. The real selfish meanies suffer in the voting rounds.

    • Timmah says:

      Alexis pulled a Kelsey (anyone watching The Bachelor will get that reference) and got a similar result. But like Kelsey, I suspect she’ll get cut at the next opportunity.

      • Tom22 says:

        Yeah, they need some easy fodder for some complicated reasons. it could be to keep the other contestants off balance or keep the judges sane with some easy nos etc. There’s a lot more factors to making the dynamics work to strengthen the metal of the remaining contestants than just putting the best singers through. They need to see how people get along/respond in certain situations etc that will be part of the show.

  8. timber says:

    I saw all I needed to of the inside of Shannon Berthiaume mouth.

  9. Ben says:

    I agree that restraint is needed, but Qaasim and Trevor are both among my favourites right now, along with Savion.

  10. Christian says:

    It’s funny how Hollywood Anderson came into Hollywood as the most likable, now after two preformances he is one of the most unlikable. I’m sorry, but I hate the “lady’s man” attitude. It also bothered me that he couldn’t be bothered to captain his group, yet he made it through, while Amber got cut.

  11. JMay says:

    Three words: Sarina Joi Crowe. Plus three more: For. The. Win.

  12. Puchinsmom says:

    I really love Joey. She’s got a great voice and a personality to match. I disagree with Michael not liking her way of covering the missing words. I’m with Harry. It was good performing. Is Sarina Joi the contestant who’s tried out multiple times? Hope this is her year.

    • Macy says:

      Yes about Sarina Joi — I remember she was in the group with Deandre Brackensick and the other young kids (15-16 years old) back in Season 11.

  13. Tahoe Mike says:

    I’m nominating Grenade for the oh dear god never again list.
    I’m glad Michael is seeing the light with Shannon. She has that bluesy wail that I like so much.
    Can’t believe that Fainting Goat Girl got through either.

    • Ben says:

      I’d second you on grenade. But the group rounds list doesn’t seem to have changed in years. I guess they think they have a set of songs which will trip people up.

  14. Timmah says:

    Joey, Sarina, Maddie and Shannon were the ones who stood out for me tonight. It’s looking like another strong year for the ladies.

  15. Tom22 says:

    Over all I thought i was a fun to watch episode. LOTS and LOTS of singing ! No sob background stories !YAY! (closest thing was the guy saying he didn’t have a home to go home to but no cut away video clips etc). Great showing of how effective hazing is in cutting the wheat from the chaff.. sleep deprivation, forced association and cooperation, contrived situations of far higher stress than need be etc. That is the sort of thing that shows who can make it in the business and/or thickens skins to help build those who make it up through trying to break them down. Maybe The Voice could use more of that sort of thing in vetting stars who’ll have a penchant for navigating the ugly social situations of the record business.

  16. S. says:

    Wasn’t it Rayvon that got the lyrics wrong on Since U Been Gone? He covered it in a way that rhymed and I seriously doubt the judges know the lyrics of that song well enough to catch it. Point is, if you know Queen Kelly’s song, you know know that was a flub. I still have a problem with that. You have hours to memorize that. One song, not several. I adore Joey but I can’t with the ‘I forgot the words, la la al’ of it all. At least try to fake it. It’s not like there are that many words to remember for a group number though, seriously.

    • Puchinsmom says:

      I think we need to cut these guys a bit of slack, S. They might only have one song and hours to memorize, but they have been up and on edge for more than 24 hours. AND they are working with stressed out ego challengers, and there are frequently harmonies to learn and dance moves as well. This is not necessarily a true test of talent. And these are not necessarily people with a lot of experience. YET. Give them a minute or two.
      So to me if they forget the lyrics on group day, it’s not a deal breaker . And if they do it with style and humor, ala Joey, even better.

  17. jerrired says:

    The Idol producers didn’t name quite a few people tonight. I’m not usually nitpicky, but it was one thing that really bothered me. It bothered me even more than giving passes to contestants who didn’t deserve it (everyone but Savion in LKYCO) and cutting those that did (Kory and Karla!).

  18. donna says:

    I suspect Lovey James is a dancer, even her subtle movements stole the focus of my eye. . I don’t know why singers dont invest more in their dancing abilities, it definitely makes a huge difference on stage.

  19. Jill Moy says:

    My only 4 I have liked have all made it through! I am pretty sure they will all make top 10 and my best 2 go on to the final! So far so good! YEAH!

    • Jill Moy says:

      Also, I have never liked Jax, she isn’t very good…PERIOD! A BAD JOKE! I never liked Hollywood…weak voice. He especially stank tonight! As far as Sal goes, he was good enough to go thru….a shame!

      • Hey Jill, I dont know if we have the same favorites but all mine have made it too. None of my favorites are female. Mainly like Qaasim, Adam (great singer, great personality) and im going to hope the best for little Daniel. Oh and Savion also! Also like Riley and I think he is the dark horse. That is the one that played on stage with Keith at a concert. Cody reminds me of a Richard Marx. Really beautiful voice.

        • Jill Moy says:


          WE KBOW TALENT ALRIGHT! GREAT! Anyway, some real beauts went through! My four…Savion, Maddie and the two black girls who were Michael’s# 3 and # 4 a couple weeks ago…one went through this episode one last week. 3 of mine went through this episode and one last week. The black girls I believe are 16 and 17 years old (haven’t this year kept up with names)! Anyway, at least we don’t have weirdos this year…PEE PANTS…DIAPER BUTT, MOOSE, THE COUNTRY GUY WHO HAD BOOBS BIGGER THAN ANY WOMAN,WHO WORE TONS OF MAKEUP,ETC., ETC…LOL!

          • Oh Yes Jill. Come to think of it, there was one black girl I loved. She has long black straight hair, very pretty. I just looked her up. Her name is Adanna Duru! The only girl I think is super great. Why are they giving Jax so much screen time? Its not fair to the others and reminds me of how they tried to force us to like Jena Irene, and also they tried to force Sam Wolf down our throats too! That needs to stop! I just dont get why they are so focused on her. It cant be just looks because that blonde girl Maddy is super pretty also and has a pretty good voice.

          • Also there is another girl that is just great. Shannon BerthiameI (spelled right?) think her name is. Never performed that much in her life and is not the usual u tube star. She is really good!

      • Kaba says:

        Always the tvline Slezak board hipster to the end.
        If someone on the show is pimped/well liked you’re there to detest them with the intensity of 3 suns of the Canis Majoris scale.

  20. Temperance says:

    Harry is very forgiving of singers for losing lyrics because for a while there (when we were younger *ahem*), he was pretty famous for forgetting lyrics. So much so, he literally had the lyrics on paper (that he really was reading!) several different times that I saw him perform with the big band.

  21. Mytake says:

    They needed to cut that drama queen (talk about faking that whole fainting episode. Watch again, those are not the movements of someone that is really about to pass out). It’s ridiculous that they put her through on any level since her singing sucked.
    Loved Jess Lamb and don’t know why more people don’t mention her in these comments. I agree with you Michael that Harry didn’t need to excuse Joeys forgetting her lyrics so adamantly.

  22. MC says:

    Was Ellen Peterson already eliminated? It’s fairly easy to imagine her as a Blake Shelton favorite on The Voice. She most likely would have had a great run on his team.

  23. Mikko Makitalo says:

    During seasons 1-11, the coming of the Hollywood week was always a thrill, and it indeed was exciting to watch. Somehow, the thrill is gone, hopefully not forever. This episode was not very inspiring. I enjoyed Jess Lamb most. In the last group, Shannon (whom I have not liked at all because of her artificial sounding twisting of the voice and tone) and Naomi were great. Group Katherine Winston – Alex Shier – Mark Andrew was pretty good. Savion I like in whatever way, also enjoyed Trevor. Riley, Emily Brooke and Tanya MacKenna were also good. Sarina-Joy I have not liked so much because of some mechanicality in her performances, but she was also good now to me. The group Boulevard was surprisingly really bad.

  24. Jill Moy says:

    Jax is being pimped just like black girl, SELLARS last year who stupid Harry said would win! This girl was awful last year! Whst can we expect from these idiot judges….THRY PUT THROUGH TO TOP 15 BOYS, BRISTON MARONEY, THE DRUNK SOUNDING HOUND DOG!

    • Jill Moy says:

      Sorry for typos, a few in my comments! I want to add JAX and HOLLYWOOD.
      were both terrible…..both being pimped too much. These two have weak terrible voices. What is everyone listening to? And the girl who forgot her lyrics should have been eliminated for sure. What she did is a no no and should not be rewarded! Oh well, has been Harry forgets lyrics himself!

    • Timmah says:

      Wasn’t Sellars one of the ones who was cut without being allowed to perform? Otherwise known as Idol’s Worst Idea Ever.

  25. darcy's evil twin says:

    I’m not so sure this episode was as bad as all that but I am definitely over Joey, Jax and Hollywood. I didn’t care for them before but this sealed the deal. I am on the fence on Rayvon. I thought the concept of what Boulevard did with “Since U Been Gone” was very interesting. Could have been better but it was not totally awful.
    I can only guess Alexis the Screechy Drama Queen will get cut in the next round. Why in the world the judges put her through is a mystery.
    I really enjoyed Sarina, Jess Lamb, Lovey James, Savion Wright, Katherine Winston, Keri Lynn Roche, Riley Bria, Emily Brooke and Jake Black.
    I think it’s difficult for some of these kids to show restraint in groups because they are desperately trying to stand out and demonstrate their vocal gymnastics.

  26. Keith says:

    Read your review and WATCHED the video with Melinda. Love hearing her again and love the interaction between you discussing the contestants and the contest. Doolittle should have won that season. I could listen to her and you all day. I think you’re right on the few contestants at the top.

  27. Nephtalia says:

    I really love Shannon, pure talent! And I do not mind the Jax primping! Please, keep on pimping her! She is all that!

  28. I have watched American Idol sinc its beginning and think the judges now are the best,fare comments and good advice. says:

    I thought the judges gave good reasons for those that were not passed to the next round

  29. Craig says:

    Wow, I really really liked the final girls group. Shannon (outstanding voice and so much potential!), Joey (yeah she forgot her lyrics but brilliantly filled in the gaps on the fly which isn’t easy to do) and Naomi (soooo underrated, she is fantastic) are all great and I hope all three make the Top 24!

  30. Alison Wilt says:

    What happened to Adam Lasher? I did not see him during the group round. Did I just miss him?

    • Puchinsmom says:

      Adam was in the first half of group round, shown last Thursday. I think. He made it through at that time. He’s one of my favorites.

  31. VLo says:

    Can anybody tell me whatever happened to Arenesa Turner from Season 13? Last year she got the ticket to Hollywood and then never appeared again – I was hoping she would be back this year. After seeing all the drama from Hollywood week I was hoping to see more magic then tragic… Kudos to Michael and Melinda’s wonderfully funny video series. Love, love, love!

  32. donna says:

    what happened to that handsome black guy who wore black leather pants and white shirt on the episode with adam lambert? he said the money for his school didn’t come in at the last moment nad he had better things in store for him. he was really good but we haven’t seen him at all in hollywood.

  33. Jaszy says:

    Jax is the chosen one…and I have to say that I do not mind one bit.