Sorry about the gap between recaps. We are back, however, with Group one performances! After Auditions and Hollywood which, encompassed two episodes, it’s time to begin the semi-finals. The Top 30 performed over a span of three weeks, ten singers per performance show. The fans voted for their favorite. The next night, Ryan and Brian revealed the Top 3 vote getters who moved on to the live shows.
In a separate episode, judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell picked one contestant from a round of wildcard contestants to round out a Top 10.
These Group rounds aired over two nights. But the performance episodes were only one hour long, and the results show 30 minutes. Fans may remember that back in the heyday of Idol on FOX only episodes with 12-11 contestants ran two hours. As contestants left the show, the performance episodes got shorter. Even in Season 5, 30 minute results shows were a thing. The genius of FOX scheduling: The network used the hit show to power the rest of their line-up.
Simon makes a “Star Wars” joke about Ryan Seacrest’s “interesting” outfit. Vocal coach Debra Byrd is in the house, and she leads the 10 singers in vocal warm-ups, before she works with each one individually. Then…wardrobe! Check out a few stylin lewks from the aughts. The stylist gives out advice, but at this point, the contestants are still paying for their own wardrobe.
The studio where the contestants perform is tiny. They sing on a tiny platform, in front of the judges, accompanied by piano. Co-host Brian Dunkleman explains the voting. Phones only in season 1. Text voting via American Idol sponsor Cingular aka AT&T didn’t begin until season 2. And the phone lines didn’t open until the end of the show, and only stayed open for two hours. “The calls are toll free, unless you use a cellphone, then you will be charged, remember that!” warns Brian. Wow.
Ryan and Brian hang with the singers in the “Red Room” and apparently, the contestants aren’t aware of the performance order. Ryan points to Tamyra Gray. She’s first! There is no audience in the studio.
Tamyra Gray – And I Am Telling You from Dreamgirls – Tamyra kicks off the show with a bang. She’s effortlessly talented. She’s got a huge voice, and incredible stage presence. These performances are very short. “Very good,” said Randy. “Tough song to sing…it’s the best I’ve seen you.” Paula said: “What a brilliant way to start off the show…you made me love you.” After explaining how much harsher his judging will be going forward, Simon said: “Your performance was sensational…You’re going to stay for the next round.”
Jim Verraros – When I Fall in Love by Doris Day – Jim lost 70 pounds from the previous year! His vocal tone is pretty, with a lovely falsetto. He keeps the phrasing simple. So far, however he’s coming off as rather old fashioned. No mention of his deaf parents this week! Randy called it boring, and flat in places. “It was very uninspiring for me.” Paula disagreed. “I think this is probably one of the best performances you’ve given so far.” And Simon agreed with Paula that it was his best, but “not good enough.” Then Simon pointed out “You have just followed a star,” referring to Tamyra. He added that if Jim won, the show failed. Poor guy looked so defeated! Chin up dude…
Adriel Herrera – I’ll Be by Edwin McCain – One of Idol’s over-sung song choices, “I’ll Be” was performed in the live shows 7 times, the most recent being Season 14 winner, Nick Fradiani. That’s not counting the endless audition performances. Having said that, this performance was pretty tuneless. His enunciation and phrasing needed a lot of work. It’s akin to a high school assembly performance. Paula said, “You sounded awesome.” Randy agreed with Paula. Simon called him a “star.” Really? OK then.
Rodesia Eaves – Daydream Believer by The Monkees – Rodesia runs all over “Daydream Believer” with bad noted wrong lyrics. Why did she murder The Monkees? They never did anything to her. Paula thought it started off shaky, before she “got into the groove.” Randy loved it. What? Finally, Simon brought some sense. “It was the weakest I heard you sing…it was terrible. I don’t know what that was all about.” Rodesia looked stunned.
Natalie Burge – Crazy by Patsy Cline – She has a strong voice. But her phrasing is kind of wacky. What’s with the faces?. Regardless, she’s one of the better singers so far. Paula could feel her nerves, “but you’re still an awesome performer.” Randy said it “started strong” but got weak towards the end. Simon thought she picked the wrong song. She’s only 17 and he wouldn’t “know what to do” with her as an artist. She admited in the red room that midway, she got “behind the music” time-wise.
Brad Estin – Just Once by James Ingram – Pitchy, Pitchy Pitchy. It’s like a bad audition. “Dude, I didn’t like that,” Randy said bluntly. “That was probably like a 3.” Paula tried to be diplomatic. “I thought you were a little disconnected from the song. The performance got much better towards the end.” Simon said the performance made him think of a “local Chilean variety show in South America.” Mean. And kinda racist, Simon. “It just didn’t make the grade.”
Ryan Starr – The Frim Fram Sauce by The King Cole Trio – Ryan vamps it up on stage in her tiny, tiny, tiny outfit, which she designed herself. She’s a little shouty, but a solid performer. Tbe judges knock her song choice, but they are wrong. “You amaze me. You have really come a long way,” said Paula. Randy was thrown off by the old-fashioned song choice. Simon called it “very cabaret.” Previously, Ryan presented herself as a rock singer.
Justinn Waddell – When a Man Loves a Woman by Percy Sledge – Another terrible performance! He’s so off-key and annoyingly warbly. He attempts a big note, and whiffs it completely. Ouch. The talent pool on season 1 was not deep. “I’ve seen better performances out of you,” said Paula. Simon loved his image too much to write him off. “Well done,” he said, inexplicably.
Kelli Glover – I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton – She sings the Whitney Houston version, but it’s straight up karaoke. Yawn. . But she hits the notes. At 19 she had potential. As an aside, years later, she competed on America’s Got Talent twice, making it as far as the Vegas round in 2009. She returned to the show in 2014, but got cut in the semi-final. She also sang a Whitney Houston song for her 2014 AGT audition. She was a person who knew it was her last chance. Anyway. Randy complimented her, but pointed out tiny flaws. Paula called her “consistently wonderful.” Simon didn’t find her original, “Stop trying to copy Whitney Houston.” He advised her to find her own style.
Christopher Aaron – Still in Love by Brian McKnight – That falsetto could have used some muscle. But he sang the song like he meant it. Good stage presence. Randy is proud, “You sound amazing…you did your thing.” Paula appreciated his quiet confidence. “Voice of an angel.” Simon said, “I don’t think you’ve shone in this competition…until now!”
American Idol Season 1 Episode 3 Group 1
Group 1 RESULTS! Jim Verraros Shocker!
The 30 minute results show REVEALED the three contestants advancing to the live finals. But even a 30 minute show was chock full of filler, including a Ford commercial featuring contestants awkwardly talking as they drove. And TAM=EE-KA returned to critique a few performances.
Over 3 million viewers votes, Ryan gushed! Paula celebrated her birthday that night. “For 50 you look amazing,” quipped Simon. Actually, Paula hit the big 40 on that day. And on June 19, 2002, she turned 60!
The judges predicted which contestants would come in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. All three judges named Tamyra Gray for the first chair, and they nailed it. For the second chair, Randy and Paula picked Chris, while Simon chose Adriel. But he added that Ryan might be the “dark horse.” Simon got it right. Ryan Starr. For the third chair, Randy predicted Chris, while Paula and Simon guessed Adriel. HOO BOY. SIMON’S HEAD IS ABOUT TO BLOW UP REAL GOOD. It’s Jim Verraros. The power of the sob story. A shocked Jim didn’t move at first. “I respect the vote,” said a clearly irritated Simon Cowell. Kelli, in particular, looked shattered.
NEXT TIME: GROUP 2 featuring KELLY CLARKSON AND JUSTIN GUARINI! Whoo hoo!
The panel obviously wanted Chris and Adriel to advance along with Tamyra. From a record exec’s perspective, those three were the most marketable. But likability and a compelling backstory can be hard to beat on singing shows.
American Idol season 1 Episode 4 Group 1 Results