RECAP: American Idol Group Rounds

AMERICAN IDOL: L-R: Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. in the “Hollywood Round #2” episode of AMERICAN IDOL airing Thursday, Jan. 28 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2016 FOX Broadcasting Co. Cr: Michael Becker / FOX.

It’s time for the dreaded group round on American Idol. The 108 contestants who have made it through will be tested to their limits, people will have to compromise, people are tired; the drama is so intense! Who will survive Idol’s most “infamous” – as judge Jennifer Lopez put it, round?!

As the judges speak with the contestants before they begin to find their groups, Harry Connick Jr. delivers some real advice: step it up. The lackluster performances from the first Hollywood Week round weren’t promising, and our next and final Idol is supposed to be in that group? Yikes.

Per usual, some groups naturally blend well and are free from drama, while others don’t fare as well. The former Voice contestant Shelbie Z ditches her group. Dalton Rappattoni and Kassy are also ditched by Poh (sister of former Idol contestant Shi), who has decided to leave the competition all together. Both groups need to find a third member or else they’re going home!

All groups meet with vocal advisers as well as mentor Scott Borchetta, who dishes out tough advice: “If you want to go home tomorrow, do what you just did,” he told one group. People are losing their voices, are forgetting their lyrics, and are just BAD. Who will overcome their fatigue the next day for the judges? Dun dun dun….

First up is the dream team, Team Blue Eyes consisting of happy go lucky Jordan Sasser, Kory Wheeler, Kelsie Watts, and Jenna Renae. The group took on “Treasure,” and although not a disaster, it felt as though everyone was yelling to show off their voices in their 10 second solos. Wasn’t a problem for the judges though; all four made it through.

After struggling in rehearsals Jenn Blosil, Bri Ray, Lynnzee Fraye, and Sara Sturm perform a cool slowed down version of One Direction’s “Drag Me Down.” The girls, excpet for maybe Bri Ray, all have that funky Elle King rasp to their voices, but there’s not denying that quirky Jenn is the standout. If all else fails, I wouldn’t mind seeing them really form a group. All four made it through!

Amelia Eisenhauer, Tristan McIntosh, Lee Jean, and some random unnamed girl, take the stage next (but not before J.Lo is called out for her love of gluten free chocolate). All four are young and among the judges favorites which is easy to see why. Although none of their vocals are great, their is promise. And afterall, they’re just 15. All four make it through, which makes me wonder if anyone will succumb to group round. Also making it through and earning praise from judges: Avalon Young and Jeneve Rose Mitchell (I still don’t get her appeal), as well as each of their group members.

Chynna Sherrod and Terrian perform “Rather Be” with two others, and they’re all really boring. The girls sound just fine, but nothing memorable. But J.Lo has taken this time to remind us all that this is IDOL’S LAST SEASON! She’s going to miss this show and has been honored to be a part of it. Let’s keep moving forward…

With all the drama that surrounds group rounds, it’s surprising that Idol still sees a first: a solo group round. Remember Trent Harmon? Well, his mono prevented him from singing and getting too close to other contestants. So to make sure nobody believed that Trent got an unfair advantage, we were given drama. A first! He has to dance and move for four during his rendition of “Rather Be!” He has to sing four people’s parts! He does a fairly good job, considering, but you could really tell he was running out of breath and was hurting in so many areas. He still makes it through.

Michelle Marie, the sequined-cowboy hat wearing giddy Idol fanatic, joined forces with Lindsey Carrier and Ashley Lusk. Lindsey decided to be group leader, and had a hard time agreeing on a song with Michelle. Five hours later and with a new member, Shelbie Z, the girls decided “Undo It.” For some reason Michelle’s bouncy self makes it to the next round. The same fate doesn’t lie for Lindsey.

Brutal group round is the end of the road for some other people you won’t remember: Elvie Shane, Ashley Lilinoe, and Cameron Richard.

But the really crazy happens with Anatalia Villaranda. Her orginal group Envy, consisting of Sonika Vaid, Andrew Nazabekian, and Stephany Negret, were simply not comprimsing. They selfishly didn’t want to change songs to find a song better suited for Anatalia‘s voice. Her mom gets too involved, which leads to Anatalia leaving (or getting left, if you ask her) the group.

Meanwhile, Dalton and Kassy are still trying to scramble to find a group after Poh’s departure. Anatalia’s mom sees their struggle and pounces. Turns out, Anatalia and her mom were right, and her new group sounded pretty damn good with “Treasure.” All three make it through. And by the way, I’m calling it already: Dalton is making it far, especially if he gets to the voting stage (And if 13-18 year olds still vote). He’s cute, young, charming, and talented. 

Envy, Anatalia’s original group, should have perhaps listened to her. The trio struggled through rehearsals. The performance didn’t show much improvement. They sang “Problem” by Ariana Grande, and although Stephany and Sonika did an okay job, Andrew was shaky throughout. He did hit one crazy high note which obviously made the judges forget about the rest of his vocals, because he somehow made it through. Stephany and Sonika will also join in him in the next round.

Some people with no rhythm leave, including Jackie, who once beat Dalton in a battle of the bands! Showing off quite the opposite with some smooth moves to “Uptown Funk” were Kylle Thomasson, Kacye Haynes, Jon Klaasen, and Marcio Donaldson. The group all sounded great, moved great, and showed some energy, which many of the groups lacked. All four make it through!

After making it a point to take off her shoes, Joy Dove takes the stage with Daniel Farmer and Lindita. Lindita ends with some crazy screaming mate call which has it’s moments of WOW, but also has a lot of problems. Joy actually seems to take a back seat during the performance, which Harry calls out. Daniel Farmer ends up going home, though.

Eliz Camacho is another natural born leader, and insists on singing a song she knows, “Hit ‘Em Up Style.” She doesn’t rehearse much with her group, made up of Gianna Isabella and Dana Ordway. The girls forget their words and Eliz insists that she’s carrying. “It’s my time to shine,” she says as Gianna complains that she’s trying to overshadow them. Their performance was awkward; everyone forgot their words. But Gianna and Dana had the last laugh; Eliz was sent home after J.Lo explained that she’s made it far in her career because people like working with her. Ouch.

Joe Dahman, Alesana Tolai, Jessica Paige and Olivia Thai sing Rixton’s “Me and My Broken Heart.” The entire group looks and sounds bored. Nobody sounds bad, but everyone looks like they’d rather be somewhere else. Perhaps nerves? The judges notice and send everyone home except Jessica.

CJ Johnson, Jess Kellner, Zach Joseph, and Jessica Baker truly sound like a unit with “Renogade.” Zach is sent home after the judges complain that they were a good group, but no super stars appeared. Thomas Muglia, Joey Hendricks, Bryson Dunn, and Thomas Stringfellow perform a super meloncholy version of the same song. So meloncholy that Joey Hendrick didn’t even look up during his solo. Both Thomas’ make it through.

Manny Torres, Malie Delgado, and Christian Eason were ditched by La’Porsha, but somehow prevailed. The group had some nice harmonies with their stripped down version of “Too Close.” Malie’s voice was almost completely gone, but it just added a nice rasp to it. Manny was running around all over the stage with high energy, and elevated the others. All three make it through.

Laurel Wright, Marshall Cunningham, Drew Angus, and John Arthur Greene somehow all manage to forget the iconic words to “Stayin’ Alive.” Laurel literally turns around and stares at her group as she just mumbled into the microphone. She somehow still made it through after Harry’s talk about deserving to be on Idol, as did Marshall.

Tonie Starr, and Marlena Johnson were saved by La’Porsha after Shelbie Z left them. Marlena also, for some reason, can’t remember the words to “Stayin’ Alive” during rehearsals. Even though she swears she’ll remember for the performance, she doesnt. She sang some “ohs” and “ooooooohs.” All three ladies sounded great and powerful, but even though La’Porsha stumbled on some words as well, she was the star. Harry says, “That’s how you forget words.”

Hollywood Week continues next week, with hopefully, some much better performances. I can barely remember most of the contestants that have been featured. Are they saving some people to surprise us with next week? I hope so.


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