6:21pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'American Idol': Hollywood Week's Group Round Pushes Contestants to Their Limits
The emotional rollercoaster of Hollywood Week continues Thursday on American Idol, which picks up where it left off with Gabby Zonneveld forgetting her lyrics during the "lines of 10" round. Harry Connick Jr. pulls her backstage and tells her to take a deep breath, as the rest of her line fights for their survival. Among them is single mother Kelley Kime, who once again impresses the judges and makes it through to the next round. In a huge surprise, Zonnefeld, who returns to the stage after a pep talk from her mother, also gets another chance from the judges.
Also through to the next hellish stage of Hollywood Week are 16-year-old Maddie Walker, who sings "Already Gone" by Sugarland, and Alexis Gomez, who does a barefoot performance of former Idol winner Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats." Cody Fry's smooth stylings on "Lilac Wine" by Jeff Buckley carry him through to the group round. The energetic Loren Lott sings "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons. Quick request: Can someone ban this song from American Idol? Too many contestants have used it, and even though it can showcase contestants' vocal range, it's a tough song to get right and can sound too strained. Lott, however, does pull it off, and continues on to the next round.
Shi Scott — who has improved greatly throughout the competition — also advances with "Mercy" by Duffy, and 15-year-old Daniel Seavey continues to prove age is nothing but a number with his beautiful performance of "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran. Qaasim Middleton also relies on a Sheeran tune to show off his pipes, performing "Give Me Love" and impressing the judges along with admirer and fellow contestant, Jax Cole.
With the contestant pool growing smaller and smaller, the most challenging part of Hollywood Week begins: group round, the stage of the competition that "separates the players from the champions," according to Jennifer Lopez.
In the group round, the contestants have to split themselves into teams of four and spend the evening selecting a captain and a song, and rehearsing their group performance. They're faced with the challenge of working together while also standing out. The stress of the group round takes its toll on the increasingly delirious contestants, many of whom stay up almost all night perfecting their routines.
The first group out is Double Stuff, featuring David Oliver Willis, Jesse Cline, Clark Beckham, and J. None. Double Stuff survives their fatigue, giving such a polished performance of "Signed Sealed Delivered" by Stevie Wonder that all four continue on in the competition.
Shiba Squared, consisting of "Big" Ron Wilson, Shi Scott, Andrew Bloom and Adam Ezegelian, aren't quite as lucky with their performance of Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T." Bloom, who fails to stand out, is cut, while the other three advance. The youngest group in the competition — Tyanna Jones, Maddy Hudson, Reno Anoa'i, and Steffi Ledbetter's The Dream Team — faces a similar fate when their performance of Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" falls apart, with some of the team members actually forgetting their lyrics. The judges send Ledbetter home, but give her teammates another chance.
Setting the bar very high for the group round, the adorably named Team Dimples, made up of Jaq Mackenzie, Nick Fradiani, Hunter Larson, and Michael Simeon, give a stellar performance of "Rude" by Magic!, with some of the best choreography seen so far. All four advance.
Things end on another cliffhanger, as Sal's Gals, led by team captain, Sal Valentinetti takes the stage. Team member Alexis Granville, who already felt dizzy in the minutes leading up to their performance, has to be carried off the stage. Will Sal's Gals continue without her or will Granville overcome her exhaustion in a quick recovery? Their fate remains unknown until next week's continuation of Hollywood Week.