'American Idol' Recap: The Ups and Downs of the Group Round
Thursday, February 06, 2014
is full of contradictions. Once the competition begins, the group
performances during the live results shows are some of the most
unbearably awkward and unenjoyable parts of the season. But in
Hollywood Week, the Group Round is the crown jewel.
There's drama and heartache as contestants, tired from an all-night rehearsal process that caused plenty of fights, try their best to shine. But more often than not they forget the lyrics, stumble around and break down. Even in a season where the emphasis is on talent, there's still room for a few bad groups and forgotten lyrics.
But this season has something a little extra that I don't remember ever seeing: a fight between a contestant and another contestant's mom. I've never seen an episode of Dance Moms, but I imagine it's a lot like what goes down with Jessica Meuse.
3 Mo' Days
This group is made up of three contestants who made it to the Group Round last season. That experience shows as their harmonies are tight and they close it out with a beautiful bit of a cappella. Sadly for them, one of the guys is cut for spending most of the time looking at his feet. He appreciates the explanation.
The country man band of Ben Briley, Dexter Roberts and Casey Thrasher cover "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys, which is just surreal. It's basically what Simon Cowell tried to create with Restless Road on The X Factor, only these three guys have much better voices and personalities. They all survive. But sooner or later, I have to assume they're all going to be fighting for the same spot on this show, because they're all from the same wheelhouse.
A Good Montage
True to form this season, we get a montage of a slew of fantastic singers moving on. The list includes Paula Hunt, Andrina Ogburn, M.K. Nobilette, Brandy Neelly, Briana Oakley, George Lovett and Neco Starr. Ogburn's poofy hair and Nobilette's androgynous look both stand out for me.
Super Hottie Spencer Lloyd (since that's how the show is marketing him, that's my official nickname for him for the rest of the season) teams up with two ladies, but since he knows the song and they don't, he's not that interested in rehearsing. That causes some problems and the ladies forget the lyrics and the whole thing is unharmonious and goes down in flames. One of the girls (Alyssa Siebken) gets cut and she blames Spencer.
A bunch of eliminated hopefuls are lumped together. Among the notable contestants are Keith "If I Were a Boy" London, Austin "Suffocated by a Stage Mom" Percario, the Patriots cheerleader and Adam "Sound Healer" Roth. But the most painful goodbye is for Tiquila, who voluntarily leaves because she knows her path is gospel and she doesn't think this show is right for her. I respect her decision, but I'll need some tequila to get over losing Tiquila.
Matthew Hamel, who was lost after Jessica Meuse dropped him, joins up with Jack Black wannabe Caleb Johnson and two others. Caleb steals the spotlight and Alabaman C.J. Harris moves on too, but Matthew and the guy who forgot the lyrics but kept singing anyway are eliminated. Matthew then throws a Bieber-lite hissyfit.
This is the group with adorable Mumfarid Zaidi who lost Sikenya Thompson during the night due to a sore throat, but she returns for the performance. She's pretty hoarse and stops singing for a bit, but then starts up again. Sikenya, Mumfarid and Jena Asciutto all move on, but the random blonde girl gets cut.
Savion Wright and his Austin-based group that formed during the auditions perform, and John Fox is the only one eliminated. Man, it's not a good week for people named John Fox, since that's also the name of the head coach of the Denver Broncos, who got slaughtered at the Super Bowl.
Meuse vs. Mom
Embattled singer Jessica Meuse had a rough night, dropping her group before moving in with a bunch of girls, including one whose stage mom was annoying. Jessica milks the sob story of her ordeal, making it sound like she survived a war. She messes up the lyrics, but her group backs her up and helps her through it.
Hilariously, the only one who gets eliminated is the one with the annoying stage mom who then screams out to the judges about how her baby is a superstar. Afterwards, the stage mom calls out Jessica and they get into a bit of a fight. It's ugly, especially when the mom starts trash talking Jessica, saying that America won't vote for her. I'm on Team Meuse, because that stage mom was being super rude.
This is the group with flamboyant Emmanuel Zidor and his randomly disappearing partners. It's a hot mess, and Emmanuel does his best to throw in his diva moves to grab the spotlight. The judges keep Emmanuel based solely on his "individuality." Ugh, this kind of novelty nonsense that led to Zoanette Johnson making it last year.
Loud and Fierce
The final group features these young women, all of whom embody the two adjectives in their name. It also includes Malaya Watson, my favorite tuba player. They all move on.
At the end of Group Round, 77 singers remain. Next week they all get one last chance to perform before the judges pick the Top 30 (or rather, 31).
(Image courtesy of FOX)