7:09pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'American Idol': Group Day Brings Harmonies and Dysfunction
Tonight on American Idol, the remaining contestants of Hollywood Week began the dreaded group round. After splitting themselves into groups of three or four, the singers had to arrange their own group performances and stay up all night rehearsing their vocals and choreography before presenting what they came up with to judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr.
Right off the bat, some groups suffered, with singers disappearing and abandoning their teammates in the middle of the night. Shelbie Z walked away from her group, which included Marlena Johnson. Facing elimination, the team had to recruit a third member. Dalton Rapattoni and Kassy Levels faced a similar predicament when Poh Scott quit on them. According to Scott’s father, she couldn’t handle the pressure of the competition. Other groups fared much better, knocking out their routines with enough time to get some sleep.
The first group to perform for the judges was Blue Eyes, singing “Treasure” by Bruno Mars. The team consisted of Kory Wheeler, Jenna Renae, Kelsie Watts, and Jordan Sasser. Wheeler was eliminated during this stage of the competition last season, but he and his group delivered this time around. “I thought that was a great start to group day,” Lopez said. All four of the blue-eyed singers advanced.
Next up was the all-girl group Milk And Cookies: Sara Sturm, Jenn Blosil, Lynnzee Fraye and Bri Ray. They sang “Drag Me Down” by One Direction, and the judges really liked their song choice. Blosil stood out in particular, but all four contestants had strong vocals and good performance chemistry with each other. The judges sent the whole group to the next round.
All four members of Ooh X 2, including Amelia Eisenhauer, Tristan McIntosh and Lee Jean also advanced after their performance of “Too Close” by Alex Clare.
Avalon Young, whose group sang “DJ Got Us Fallin In Love” by Usher, also made it though, along with Jeneve Rose Mitchell and her two team members. Singing “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum, Mitchell impressed the judges with her ability to connect to and reflect the lyrics she was singing. Connick said she exhibited artistry.
Chynna Sherrod and Terrian were part of the group that sang “Rather Be,” and Lopez immediately connected with the lyrics. “I’m gonna miss Idol,” Lopez whispered to Connick as they were performing.
Trent Harmon, who found out on day one of Hollywood Week that he has mono, was told by producers that he had to perform alone so as to not put any other contestants at risk. He also sang “Rather Be” and made the most of a solo performance by spicing up the vocals. The judges were impressed despite the lack of harmonies. Harmon made it through to the next round.
The group Singing Out Loud struggled to click in their rehearsals, especially because Michelle Marie and Lindsey Carrier couldn’t agree on a strategy for picking what song they would sing. The group, which included Ashley Lusk, picked up Shelbie Z as a fourth member when she departed her original group. Lusk was the only member of the group who was eliminated.
The next group, which included Elvie Shane and and Jessica Cabral, sang “Too Close.” Shane did not advance. Ashley Lilinoe was also sent home, but her fellow group members Mackenzie Bourg, Kayla Mickelson, and Juno advanced. Cameron Richard, who was very promising in his initial audition, was also sent home.
The group N.V. also suffered from some drama when Anatalia Villaranda felt like the song they had chosen was outside of her range. Her group, which included Sonika Vaid, Stephany Negrete and Andrew Nazarbekian, ended up leaving her behind. Luckily, she was able to join Rapattoni and Levels, who were still looking for a third member for their group, Chicken Noodle Soup. Singing “Treasure,” Chicken Noodle Soup was up first. Despite their troubles the night before, they really came together for a solid performance. Urban appreciated some of the details in their vocals. All three members advanced.
Their rival group N.V. was up next, and they were still struggling to nail their performance in their final rehearsal. They sang “One Less Problem” by Ariana Grande, and while their voices sounded strong, not all of them had strong performance skills. Urban said it looked like Nazarbekian had never been on a stage before. Still, the judges gave them all another shot and advanced the whole group.
The next group, including Marcio Donaldson, Jon Klaasen, Kylle Thomasson and Kacye Hynes, sang “Uptown Funk.” Despite being exhausted, they brought a lot of energy to their performance and worked the crowd. “It’s so nice to see people who can feel rhythm,” Connick said. The judges sent the whole group to the next round.
Next, Joy Dove, Daniel Farmer and Lindita sang “Domino” by Jessie J. The performance ended with a huge run from Lindita, and Connick told Dove she shouldn’t have let her get the last word in. Still, both Dove and Lindita advanced. Farmer was sent home.
Eliz Camacho wanted to stand out and refused to truly collaborate with her teammates Gianna Isabella and Dana Ordway. She imposed a song on them that she knew all the words to even though the others were unfamiliar with it. “It’s not always just about talent,” Lopez said. The judges did not appreciate that Camacho was difficult to work with, and they eliminated her and sent Isabella and Ordway to the next round.
Good Vibes, a group consisting of Alesana Tolai, Joe Dahman, Olivia Thai and Jessica Paige, sang “Me and My Broken Heart” next, and their energy was very low. Paige advanced, but the others were sent home. Jess Kellner and Jessica Baker also advanced from their group, while teammate Zach Joseph went home. Joseph Hendricks and Bryson Dunn also went home, but their fellow group members Thomas Stringfellow and Thomas Muglia advanced.
The next group lost La’Porsha Renae when she decided to join another group in need of third member during rehearsals. Malie Delgado, Manny Torres and Christian Eason recovered from the loss and gave a strong performance of “Too Close.” The judges loved it, and Lopez said their voices sounded really good together. “That’s one of the best performances we’ve seen all day,” Urban said. All three made it to the next round.
In the penultimate performance of the night, Laurel Wright, Marshall Cunningham, Drew Angus and John Arthur Greene couldn’t really find their groove. Three members of the group forgot their lyrics. Only Cunningham and Wright advanced.
Tonie Starr and Marlena Johnson, who Shelbie Z abandoned the night before, gained La’Porsha Renae as a new group member. In their final rehearsal, Johnson couldn’t remember her lyrics. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get it together for the performance, and she ended up just singing ad libs instead of the lyrics for nearly the entirety of her verse. She was able to cover it up pretty well though, and she continued to sound strong and give a good performance despite not knowing the words. The whole group advanced.
Hollywood Week continues next week with more solo performances. What did you think of tonight’s group drama?