Today on Idol Memory Lane, the cheese really hits the pavement. We are going to highlight group numbers from every season of Idol. The group numbers, frequently called the Pointy Pose due to that over-used dance move to end them, were arguably a vital element in making Idol what it once was. The group numbers gave Idols a chance to let lose and were a lot of fun for the viewing audience. They kept results shows from becoming too serious, gave the conspiracy fans something new to Zapruder for clues (who is the chosen one?) and gave us all something to smile about.
Group numbers had a lot of train wreck potential. The choreographers were trying to work with a lot of people who might be unfamiliar with dance moves, the arrangers had to find something everyone could sing and the camera men had to figure out a way to feature each soloist without getting mangled up in the dance moves.
I’ll admit that I’m fully biased toward the group numbers with upbeat numbers that feature a lot of singers. That’s not to say that some of the later results shows didn’t feature some amazing harmonies. Also, I did not include finale performances or performances that only included some of the active Idols (like when they split the performances between girls/boys or had duets). I want them all on the stage because it ups the degree of difficulty.
And, so without further adieu, bring on the group numbers:
Season 1: Top 4: Paula Medley: During the first season, the show was just getting its Death Star legs and things were a lot less slick. That made for absolutely delightful group numbers. The Idols are clearly having a blast and barely holding it together on this one where Paula gets pulled on stage.
Season 2: Top 11: “Footloose”: Season 2 group performances tended toward static, but this one is jam packed with kinetic energy. Idol hadn’t quite figured out the going-into-the-audience-thing and there was a bit of ping-ponging around, but there was plenty of delicious ham and cheese.
Season 3: Top 9: Elton John Medley: It always helps when you start with good songs. This group numbers starts out with a slow song featuring great harmonies from the 6 female contestants before bringing on the guys. It ends with a fast-paced numbers, windmill arms and and punching the skies.
Season 4: Top 10: “Everything is Beautiful”: Everyone gets to sing their own way and we end with fists raised.
Season 5: Top 8: Queen Medley: This is one of my favourite group numbers ever. Although the Idol dancing only got shown on a small split-screen, the singing is fantastic (even without the visuals, its great) and the montage of the-season-so-far is just so much fun. The editing was perfection. Plus, it’s Queen!
Season 6: Top 16: “Stuck in the Middle With You”: This number demonstrates how Idol coped with the massive group songs back in the day. 16 people are a lot to coordinate on a stage when a lot of them are inexperienced. Idol typically followed the rule of 3 – assign a portion of the song to three people and have them rotate through. The rest of the people can just sway in the background. It lends a cheesy charm and everybody gets their moment to shine on a fun song like this one.
Season 7: Top 10: “Right Back Where We Started From”: This one is just oozy-gooey greatness. Season 7 featured some awesome group numbers, but I’m going to highlight this one because of the energy and goofy dancing. Is this the start of Mavid? Don’t miss the chest bump. This is a fun group having a blast. Go ahead. Watch it twice, I did.
Season 8: Top 5: Rat Pack Medley: For a season jam-packed with vocal talent, it was odd that TPTB made the Idols lip-synch the group performances. It led to odd moments like Scotty not even singing into the mike during his impassioned solo (Scotty was legally blind) during “Can’t Stop Believing”. So, I’m giving this nod to the Top 5 where they rebelled and sang live and sounded absolutely fantastic doing it. Some good moves too.
BONUS: Season 8: Top 7: “Shake Your Body”: I’m sorry, no matter how I feel about lip synching, no group number rundown can be complete without this one…plus here the lipping makes sense. They finally decided to get Paula to choreograph a group performance and the results are EPIC. They be fly.
Season 9: Top 11: “Wake me Up”: LOL They sang this Wham! classic. How can I not pick it? It’s quite the train-wreck that is somewhat emblematic of the season. Cohesiveness is lacking and while most of the Idols have a lot of fun with it (I see you Big Mike), Lee looks like he’d rather be at the proctologist.
Season 10: Top 9: Rock Medley:This is the year they started substituting group performances with trios and duos, but that didn’t mean we didn’t have some great choices for our list. The Top 13’s Michael Jackson Medley was pretty awesome, but I’m giving the nod to this Rock Medley due to its energy and the fact that you can see the Idols have really gelled and feel more comfortable on stage. Loved Paul gently correcting Scotty’s choreography so that James can jump in for his solo.
Season 11: Top 10: “For the Longest Time” – Choregraphy, DeAndre’s classic stair dancing, Heejun popping up from behind a couch and everybody points. What more could you ask for?
Season 12: Top 4: “Girl on Fire: Seriously, I deserve combat pay for this season. Until the boys were evicted from the Idol stage, there were some ugly harmonies going on. But this performance by the top 4 shows that the season had some great talent going on as they blend beautifully.
Season 13: Top 13: “Counting Stars”/“Radioactive”: This season packed the results show with so many guest performers that we only got two (2!) group numbers. But this one is a lot of fun even if the singing was a little flat at times. The performance starts out backstage following Idols getting ready for the show. Lots of imagination and personalities shine through.
Season 14: Top 9: “People Like Us”: Pickings were slim this year. With the show appearing only once a week the group numbers quickly got dropped. Prior to this, they had a tentative “Get Lucky” and a low-energy “Karma Chameleon” so this is the best of the lot. They looked like they were having fun.
I encourage everybody to post their favourites too. Share the joy!