American Idol 2016 Recap Hollywood Week #2
Hang onto your hats kiddos. It’s time for Hollywood Week GROUP ROUNDS. The remaining American Idol contestants will split off into small groups, work up an act, and present it to the judges–Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr.–the next day. Sounds simple, right? IT’S NEVER SIMPLE. The round is always characterized by sleepless nights, clashing egos, and trainwreck performances. Still, there always at least a few gems that emerge from the chaos.
We’ll be live blogging all the major drama, right here.
UPDATE: WOW. That was a jam packed two hours! I wondered if the producers decided to toss away the drama. But instead, they wove individual stories in and out of performances, which made it feel like we got the best of both worlds. There are some seasons where there are one or two good performances, and the rest is a mess. There were quite a few well rehearsed and entertaining groups for this very last group night of American Idol. A dramatic moment: Poh Scott does not do groups. After a couple of hours of rehearsal, she disappears. A staff guy learns from her dad that she quit. I wonder what sister Shi thought about that.
190 contestants came to Hollywood 108 remain! The judges talk about what a challenge Group Night is for the contestants. “It’s designed to be brutal,” admits Harry. “Working with people you aren’t comfortable with, performing when you are sick, these are all things a performer needs to learn to do.” Yaasss. Bring it on.
It’s evening, as the judges explain how it will work. Groups of 3 or 4. Harry gives a dramatic made for TV speech about how they “all need to get real…you can’t go half assed on this stuff.” Then he adds, “Get some sleep,” knowing damn well that they won’t. Jlo says if it were her, she’d be up all night practicing over and over again until the performance was perfect.
Whoa. Less than a minute devoted to the groups forming. What? No stragglers? Scott Borchetta is in the house to help. “If you want to go home, do what you did just now” he tells one singer. “It’s survival of the fittest. Step up and throw everybody else to the ground. You are going to have to be really selfish in this moment.” he says. And that’s pretty much the last we see of the Idol mentor.
Marlena, Shebie and Tonie are having a disagreement. Country singer, Shelbie, isn’t cool with “Hit Em Up Style.” She bails on the group. Dalton and Kassy are missing third member Poh. A staff member tries to track her down. Her dad answers the phone, “She can’t do this,” he admits. Did she quit? Sounds like it. Dalton and Kassy have to find a new member, or be eliminated. Christian learns Dalton and Kassy’s plight and sees if one of his quartet are willing to join them. Malie doesn’t want to split up. She’s in tears. They decide to stick together…until LaPorsha changes her mind and joins the other group. “I couldn’t get those girls out of my head,” she says. “BLINDSIDED,” says original group member, Manny, about her leaving.
We see about 5 minutes of night before drama, and that’s it! By 8:10 we’ve moved on to the next morning. It’s time for the groups to perform.
The sun rises in Los Angeles. WHAT THAT’S IT. Aren’t we getting details on what went down all night? Dang. Morning rehearsals are a mess. “OMG that was horrible,” music director, Michael Orland, says to one group. “That was like the Titanic.” Contestants are crying. Ryan says, “There will be plenty of trainwrecks, and plenty of sweet victories.”
Team Blue Eyes – “Treasure” by Bruno Mars – Kory Wheeler, Jenae Renae, Kelsie Watts, Jordan Sasser, – Kory was cut after the group rounds last year. He’s a little nervous. No need. The group is well rehearsed with strong leads. Very well put together. Jlo thought it was a great start to group day. Harry says, “Good work.” Keith liked the chemistry. They ask Jenna and Jordan to step forward. Fake out. All four are through. – Click to Watch Team Blue Eyes VIDEO
Team Milk and Cookies – Jenn Blosil, Bri Ray, Lynnzee Fraye, Sara Sturm – Drag me Down by One Direction – Michael warns them, “I want real.” Sounds pretty real to me. More strong leads and great harmonies. Jlo enjoyed it although it wasn’t perfect. Keith liked the song choice. Harry liked that they took a risk. I agree, they really twisted that song choice in a creative way. – Keith doesn’t even bother to fake them out. – All four are through. – Click to Watch Team Milk and Cookies
Next: Jlo loves her chocolate montage. Zzzz. She eats gluten free chocolate. Oy.
Next a quick trio of group excellence:
Oo x 2 – Amelia Eisenhour, Tristan McIntosh and Lee Jean sing “Too Close.” Another group including Avalon Young and Colette Lush sing “DJ Got Us Falling in Love” followed by a country trio featuring Jeneve Rose Mitchell singing “I Need You Now.” The judges namecheck Tristan and Avalon (Harry thinks she could star in the video) as standouts. Harry is moved by Jeneve’s vulnerability. All singers advance – Click to Watch a Trio of Excellent Teams VIDEO
Chynna Sherrod, Terrian, sing (and nail) “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit. “I’m going to miss Idol, says Jlo. She tears up afterward thinking about the end. SOB. Here comes that montage of favs. SO MUCH NOSTALGIA. Ryan says Group round has always been an emotional journey.
Trent Harmon still has mono. He has to perform alone, doctor’s orders. And the producers say..fine. That hardly seems fair, now, does it? The singer takes the stage and sings “Rather Be.” his vibrato is kind of out of control. The mono is really affecting his vocals. He’s out of breath too. “It sounds better in mono!” Harry quips. Hm. The judges praise, and without having to deal with the pressure of dealing with groups, Trent is through to the next round. Jlo namechecks Phillip Phillips and his chronic kidney stones as an example of getting through Idol with an illness. – Click to Watch a Team of One VIDEO
Singing Out Loud – “Undo It” – by Carrie Underwood – Michelle Marie, Ashley Lusk Lindsey Carrier, Shelbie Z – Michelle wants to choose the song quickly so they can rehearse. Lindsey wants to try out several songs. It takes them 5 hours to choose a song! Shelbie Z joins their group. Lindsey is getting the “bossy” edit. Despite struggle, Lindsey insists it’s all going perfect. It’s a little rough, but the judges like the song choice. Shelbie, Michelle and Ashley are through. Lindsey is cut. The trio hugs. “Don’t forget Lyndsay!” reminds Keith, but she’s already walking off, upset. – Click to Watch Team Singing Out Loud VIDEO
The next segment features singers who had promise during the audition, but failed to live up to expectations during group crunch time. Elvie Shane shouts his way through a song. The judges are really disappointed with the group’s performance. Elvie is eliminated, while Jessica Cabral, Zach Person and John Wayne Schultz are through. Ashley Lilinoe is eliminated. She forgets the words, and her voice cracks. Mackenzie Bourg, Kayla and Juno from her group advance. From another group: Louisiana boy, Cameron Richard is eliminated. – Click to Watch Elvie Shane and others Eliminated VIDEO
The tale of two groups: Chicken Noodle Soup: Poh DOES quit. “I’m not ready,” she says as she packs up her suitcase. Dalton Rapattoni is panicking. They need a new group member, stat. There is tension in Envy. Anatalia isn’t comfortable with the song choice. When her mom interferes, the other two members, Sonika and Andrew, ditch her. When mom sees that Chicken Noodle Soup needs a member, she suggests Anatalia. Dalton and Kassy happily take her. Let’s see how both groups fare.
Chicken Noodle Soup – “Treasure” – Dalton Rapattoni, Anatalia Villaranda, Kassy Levels – Mom has taken over as coach. The others don’t seem to mind. When they take the stage, the trio seem like a good fit. Nice harmonies, strong lead vocals. Keith loved the phrasing, the way they made the song their own, with smart musical choices and phrasing. Jlo attempts a fake out…nope Everyone goes through. – Click to Watch Team Chicken Noodle Soup VIDEO
Envy – Sonika Vaid, Stephany Negrete, Andrew Nezerbakian – “Problem” by Ariana Grande – They insist Anatalia quit, they didn’t push her out (I said this was a tale of two groups!). They have a disastrous rehearsal in the morning. Michael says they’re all perform like background singers. They regret spending so much time fighting over song choice the night before. Once they hit the stage, they get it together. Andrew’s vocals are still…so odd. Keith felt Stephany was the only one who actually performed. Nevertheless, They all advance. – Click to Watch Team Envy VIDEO
ETA: Weren’t you expecting Mom and daughter to stir up trouble in the second group? Makes you wonder if Envy wasn’t being a little petty and unreasonable.
Keith admits he’d refuse to dance if he were in a group. We see a montage of some really bad dancing next.
Jaci Butler (Green Haired Girl) Josiah Siska (Country singer with the Deep Voice) and Brian Dale Brown (Loud Righteous Brothers guy) leave the competition. Sadz.
Trick or Treat – Uptown Funk – Marcio Donaldson, Jon Klaasen, Kylle Thomason , Kacye Hayes – That was a pretty funky performance. Keith felt they rose to the challenge and are all great performers, the judges agree. – All Four advance. – Click to Watch Team Trick or Treat VIDEO
Smooth Soul – Joy Dove, Daniel Farmer, Lindita – “Domino” by Jessie J – All the characters are in this group! Joy jokes that they thought of asking another boy to join the group, but Daniel (the dude with the sexy moves for Jlo) was all the man they needed. Lindita ad libs for like a minute. Too much. “Is it done?” asks Keith. Harry remarks that Joy allows Lindita to outshine her. An ambitious person would not have done that. That’s an odd putdown. Is there really something wrong with being a generous group member? His criticism deflates Joy pretty quickly. Joy and Lindita advance, Daniel is eliminated. – Click to Watch Smooth Soul VIDEO (With Nostalgic Goodbye Montage)
Aw, sad Hollywood goodbye montage is next.
Team Las Varequas – Hit Me Up Style – Eliz Camacho, Gianna Isabella, Dana Ordway, – There are disagreements in this group. Eliz is trying to out diva the other girls. She’s so bossy, they lost a group member. The performance is a HOT MESS TRAINWRECK–off pitch, and everyone forgets the words. Gianna’s mama, Brenda K. Starr cheers them from the auditorium. The tension between the members is obvious, and the judges see it. Jlo says she’s made it so long in the business because people like working with her (Hm. Fellow Flygirl Carrie Ann Inaba says otherwise…) It’s important to play well with others, she says. According to Harry, 15 year old Gianna outsung everyone (even if she forgot the words). – Dana and Gianna advance, Eliz is eliminated. Eliz insists she’s fine. “I’m much bigger than American Idol,” she sniffs. Click to Watch Team Las Varequas VIDEO
Team Good Vibes – Alesana Tolai, Olivia Thai, Jessica Paige, Joe Dahmen – Me and My Broken Heart – The quartet performs as if in slow motion. Could this group have any less charisma? Harry calls it joyless “You look like your dog just died.” The attitude has to be do or die Jlo insists. Jessica advances, Alesana, Olivia and Joe are eliminated. – Click to Watch Team Good Vibes + Various Groups
CJ Johnson Jess Kellner, Jessica Baker, Zach Joseph – Renegades – Harry liked the song choice, but didnt’ see superstars. Zach is eliminated. CJ, Jess and Jessica advance.
Thomas Muglia, Joey Hendricks, Bryson Dunn, Thomas Stringfellow – “Renegades” – The judges felt the performances were average. But, Thomas M and Thomas S are through to the next round.
Team Rebirth – Manny Torres, Malie Delgado, Christian Easen – Too Close – Out of the Hollywood Week drama came their group name. After LaPorsha left the group, the remaining three went back to the drawing board. But out of the chaos, came a very energetic and charismatic performance. Harry appreciates that they all fought hard. Keith notes Manny’s leadership, and how the rest rose to the occasion. The judges call them the best group of the day. All three advance. – Click to Watch Team Rebirth
Team Soul Cats – Staying Alive – Laurel Wright, Marshall Cunningham, Drew Angus, John Arthur Greene (He’s Broadway singer with the incredibly tragic backstory), – They FORGOT ALL THE WORDS. The judges chew them out. Harry, in particular, is upset. Marshall and Laurel advance. John and Drew are eliminated. Click to Watch Team Soul Cats
Team The Sistahs – LaPorsha Renae, Marlena Johnson, Tonie Starr – Staying Alive by the Bee Gees – Shelbie left the group, and LaPorsha decided to help some sisters out. She had catching up to do. But she wasn’t the singer having issues. Marlena couldn’t remember the words. Not in rehearsal, not in the actual performance either. The judges were OK with that, though. Not sure what the difference was, vs the soul cats. Maybe her performance skills and that the rest were in a position to help her out. She is a good singer, tossing in a few tasty runs. All three advance. – Click to Watch Team The Sistahs
Next Week. Last Solos. STRESS STRESS STRESS.