Last time on Idol, well over one hundred people made it to the group round of the competition. Most of them you'll never see or hear from again, but, good news! Herded around like cattle in the sudden death round, the pathetic filler and the specimens with lavish pimp packages the
producersjudges deemed worthy of further pushing were allowed to move on to tonight's group round! Amazing! If you have seen this thing before, you already know how it goes: drama, drama and more drama. Two hours worth of it, to be precise. I will be cutting out a lot. Sorry. Two hours of this crap makes me cranky.
Ryan predicts that there will be “new stars” and that the people they want to pimp will blow us away. Translation: We're telling you who to like and you will like them, dammit! Unfortunately for him, that tactic rarely works. With 168 people left to battle it out, my bet is that I will care about exactly none of the ones they want me to care about. Or any for that matter but that's another story for another day. Can't we just fast forward to the final 12 or something? Sigh.
The day starts off badly for some people from Day 1 of Round 2 who tried to game the system by forming their groups early and rehearsing while others were still competing for their lives on Day 2 of Round 2. In an interesting behind the scenes style tidbit, we are shown a producer telling them that all groups must be comprised of people from both days, thus destroying any advantage some might have had. I like this! Hopefully we get the tough producer smackdowns in every episode.
Chaos ensues as people scramble to find new group members to fill the quota and to make up a suitably cheesy name for themselves. There are handmade signs involved, some artificial drama, background music straight out of Psycho, stunned faces and lots and lots of scrambling. I'll spare you most of it since I'm not yet prepared to type out dozens of names nor am I willing to memorize any of them. As in all social situations, some people gravitate easily towards a unit, while others are floaters or outsiders. Big mouthed Jersey diva Tiffani Rios can't find a group that will have her and there are some humiliating moments when she is asked to audition by low voiced douchebag Scotty McCreary. She bristles but ultimately desperation makes her do it only for him to ditch her saying she's crazy. He then walks around rejecting several groups and is in turn rejected by even more picky Jordan Dorsey and his group after being asked to sing for admittance. Payback is a bitch!
Similar dramas are played out all over the place and Idol makes the most of the craziness. Ryan uses as many superlatives as he can muster while the camera gets a workout showing worried faced and and tense conversations between people I've never seen before. You'd think entire lives depended on the outcome of the group round, or something. By 11pm, 39 groups are finally formed and they're all herded into the Pasadena Convention Center to start rehearsal for this make-or-break performance. With barely ten hours to go, contestants desperate for privacy and a break from the cacophony of the main hall, rehearse in the garage and even in the men's room. I guess the urinals don't care if you're out of tune.
Jealousy and malice
Besides space and privacy issues, there is an aspect of this season that I haven't thought of before, namely the presence of so many 15 year olds who cannot legally go anywhere without their mommies. One group number, comprised entirely of 15 and 16 year olds have their stage mothers with them directing traffic and interfering to the best of their ability. Or as some, like bitchy James Durbin – he of the ridiculous crocodile tears from San Francisco - and his group, see it as giving the kids an unfair advantage. He thinks Idol shouldn't be a competition for stage moms. Boo freakin' hoo, dude! Who asked you? His group goes as far as jealously spying on the youngsters, who picked the same Queen song they did, and Durbin even lets out an ear-splitting, inhumane scream that he probably thinks is a show of talent. The move is clearly meant as intimidation but comes off more like a show of insanity and not the good kind either. The teens don't look too scared but I now want to push this pretentious James idiot off a cliff.
The exes and lovebirds group of Rob Bolan, Chelsea Oaks and Jacqueline Dunford who lost psycho Nick Fink during the last round, are having trouble gelling properly. Meanwhile, Idol is facing their first possible quitter in Ashley Sullivan who seems to be one bad moment away from a stint in the loony bin. Her group members try to whip her into shape but it seems that Ashley will do anything for some extra face time and she declares that she is done. She is done! Well, for now. She weeps uncontrollably, she rails against the obtrusive cameras and is generally making a spectacle of herself. Five bucks says she's going to sing anyway.
Douchey cowboy and his new group comprised of a bunch of people nobody cares about and chubby 15 year old Jacee prove that some people will do anything to get an advantage even going so far as trampling on others. Poor Jacee is kicked out of the group, forced to fend for himself at 1am at night while others are busy learning their routines. His parents tell him that perhaps it was not meant to be.
The high manufactured drama continues as some groups disintegrate in a spectacular fashion, Ashley Sullivan miraculously decides to not abandon the competition – did you really think she would? - while some groups are still incomplete. Where are my five bucks? Jacee, with few choices left, finally joins a group that is rehearsing “Mercy”, a song he's never heard before. Can you say, trainwreck?
Hope you catch a grenade
With that, we're finally over most of the posturing and theater and on to some action. Group performance day has dawned and this is where producer favorites are separated from the filler. With more than an hour of show time left, I expect a lot of off key singing. The judges have some last words for them, including that old adage “do not forget the words” and we're finally on to the first group. They are three Jersey girls I haven't seen before who sing one of the cheesiest songs of the past year, “Grenade”. It will be a familiar refrain as it seems this season the group song selection seems to be limited to a rotating door of three or four forgettable pop fluff numbers.
Jordan Dorsey who made a lot of fuss earlier, rejecting people and switching groups when he didn't like the song choice, hits on a win with his new outfit after doing a Michael Jackson cover. They are all through. His old group, called “The 440s” squeaks through a so-so version of “Forget You” but they also make it through. I won't even bother listing their names. Sorry.
Tiffani Rios and Jessica Yance are the only duo, mainly because nobody wanted to join their group. Their song “You must not know bout me” falls terribly flat and they're both off the show. Don't think they'll be missed. Another group called “Spanglish” is not only late, forcing Steven to show off on the drums to entertain the crowd, but they're singing another syrupy Bruno Mars song and they're singing it just as nasally and obnoxiously as the original. Half of them make it, half of them bite the dust.
But this is all nothing compared to the horror that is the next group which decides to go with the tried and true sucking up to the judges technique, already perfected by their member Lauren Alaina at her audition. They bring Steven up on stage and sing “Some kind of wonderful” straight to him. They invade his personal space, ruffle his hair; they even have him howl into the microphone a couple of times and it's all one shameless spectacle that even Idol should be too embarrassed to show. If only Idol had any shame and minded the embarrassment. And who do you think made it through from that group? You guessed it: Lauren with the generous pimp package is the only one. Gee, I did not see that one coming. At all.
Hardly anybody to love
Colton Dixon and country boy Matt Dillard are in the same group and while I don't remember either one of them, or the other people they are with, I won't soon forgive their painful rendition of the same Bruno Mars cheeseball song that two other previous groups already murdered. They're out of tune, pitchy and just plain bad. Steven tries to stay positive while dismissing everyone except Colton who will be moving on. A quick succession of groups commit terrible auditory crimes, among them Paris Tassin who had a single mother sob story all lined up since the auditions and several others who walk away nameless and faceless.
The group called “The Hits”, containing crazy Ashley Sullivan, harmonizes well but has pitch problems in places. Randy tells them they harmonized well and they're all through. Looks like Ashley will the token mental patient of the season who will be dramatically eliminated before the final group. You heard it here first.
The teener group and their stage moms rehearse some more while the group containing James Durbin takes the stage with a terrible cover of Queen's “Somebody to love”. Not only are they out of tune, flat and boring with harmonies that should be a federal crime, but James' inhumane off key howl closes the whole thing in a final insult. I think we have a Siobhan Magnus 2.0 on our hands. JLo terms the entire sorry spectacle a “bad Glee audition” which seems a generous assessment given that my ears are hurting. Only James the pitchy moon howler and some other dude make it through to the next round. The stage moms express some, pun intended, glee at this development even as their offspring pull off a much better version of the same song. Steven thinks Freddie was smiling somewhere but I rather think Freddie would be sticking pins into voodoo dolls. All five teens continue on their journey to become the next assembly line Bieber clones.
Don't worry, they'll forget you
By late afternoon many groups have been waiting for a long time and the already not-so-stellar quality declines further. One dude goes far as to sing the lyrics to the umpteenth bad version of “Grenade” straight from his palm prompting Randy to call him out as a cheater. This group has Holllie Cavanaugh and Corey Levoy and they both advance. Cheater dude with the lyrics on his arm goes home to contemplate his folly.
So far everyone has had accompaniment but some groups have more hubris than others and decide on a cappella performances in the hopes of standing out and impressing the judges. “The Night Owls”, who manage to stand out in a bad way with a shaky rendition of “Get Ready”, include the Seth Rogen lookalike from an earlier episode. He along with another guy make it through while the three girls in their group are going home. The other a cappella performance comes from a group who are singing the same song only with slightly better harmonies. The judges like them and they're all through for now. Ryan takes care to mention Jacob Lusk as the new emerging “star”. What, no pre-recorded pimp package? Weird. And aren't they just awfully generous with that term?
Chris Medina's group sings yet another version of “Forget you”, the song I'd most like to stab with a kitchen knife. Repeatedly. Then I'd like to set it on fire and throw it into a snake pit and then I'd like to use a chainsaw to dismember every single note one by one...
Oh, wait, I'm still in the middle of this piece. Don't mind me and my newly awakened homicidal tendencies. Some songs just bring out the worst in me. Back to the recap.
The judges have mixed reviews for the group with only one person left out in the cold and she's not taking it too well. Darling boy Chris Medina, aka this season's Gokey clone, is safe and his copious sob story will not be going to waste.
Love and karma
With roughly 15 minutes of show time left, Ryan promises more good stuff while a number of groups are sent through or dispatched without nary a name being flashed on screen. Jacee, 15, whose last name I can't recall, and his adoptive group are up next. Their song is “Mercy” with shaggy haired Brett Lowenstern being the best of the bunch. Jacee forgets the lyrics and ad libs instead. He also rats out the group who rejected him before they all go through to the next round. Hmm. So reading the lyrics off of your arm is not okay but singing bogus lines is perfectly kosher? I guess a cute teen face to bait that granny demographic will get you far on this season.
When called out by the judges, Scotty McCreery, whose group is up next, proves he is a true douche by “apologizing” about Jacee's ouster before their number. Of course he only wants to save his own hide so his fake apology, as well as his fake tears later, are invalid. They sing “Get ready” and unfortunately it's decent so all four of them make it to the next phase. Watch out for that karma, Scotty!
In total 67 people have been cut so far with only the exes and lovebirds group remaining . Chelsea Oaks, Rob Bolin and Jacqueline Dunford have clashed during the night, had problem with their dance moves, Rob had problems his lyrics and their troubles translate into a terrible performance of my current most hated song, “Forget you”. Rob forgets the lyrics but ad libs like Jacee did, the girls are pitchy, the dance moves are weak. The entire thing is one big mess and they seem to know it. In the end it's good bye to Rob while the girls make it to the next round. The exes are thus cruelly separated! Let me
squeecry a bit about that. I guess ad libing lyrics is only okay if you're a cute 15 year old teddy bear.
We are done here for today. One hundred contestants are still left, which seems like a cruel joke after all these rounds which aren't even over yet.. Only half of them will survive the solo round Thursday night but that will still leave 50 people standing. Sigh. Arielflies will bring you that bit of fun while I'll be back next week when hopefully we'll be down to no more than 20 people, 19 of whom will have some sort of pathetic sob story that will make me want to kick puppies. In other words, just another season of American Idol.