I have no idea what Thursday (Feb. 16) night’s “American Idol” is that it needs to be two hours.
When did it become necessary to spend 10 hours on Hollywood Week, “American Idol”?
Live-blogging begins after the break. It’s just my way of staying sane…
8:02 p.m. The Top 70 contestants are informed that they’re off to Las Vegas and that they’re all going to be asked to sing songs from the ’50s on the “Viva Elvis” stage at the Aria Las Vegas. Yes, songs from before the contestants’ parents were born.
8:03 p.m. Contestants are splitting into groups of three or four and they’re assigned songs from the ’50s and ’60s. So that whole thing about singing songs form the ’50s? That thing Steven Tyler told them a few hours ago? All a lie.
8:04 p.m. Remember Peggi Blue? The Queen of Mean? She’s back.
8:05 p.m. Remember Skylar Laine? Lil Reba? She’s having troubles with harmonies. And none of her friends made it through, so she’s in a group with Colton Dixon and a couple people we haven’t spent nearly as much time with. She doesn’t want to screw up her entire group, but that’s exactly what “American Idol” wants.
8:06 p.m. There will be cuts! And they will be brutal!
8:07 p.m. Skylar is up first. Or her group is. Cari Quoyeser makes funny faces when she sings. Chase Likens is also making funny faces. Somebody must have told them that’s what people did back in the Stone Age. For the record, Skylar has absolutely no troubles, nor does Skunkhead Colton. Cari REALLY makes funny faces. I’m not going to be able to deal with this. The judges are pleased. “Great job on the harmonies,” J-Lo gushes. Steven is impressed that Chase, whoever he is, stepped out of his comfort zone. But they all complain that Cari was “shaky and weak.” And that’s why Cari and her funny faces are eliminated. She vows to only take the good memories home with her. “But Cari certainly won’t be the only one leaving today,” Ryan reassures us.
8:14 p.m. Oh. The precocious kids are bonding again. Gabi is stressing out. And Ryan, “Rockin’ Robin” was written significantly more than 30 years before some of these kids were born. David Leathers Jr. continues to rock. Jeremy Rosado continues to be this group’s weak link. Ariel Sprague is fantastic. Gabi Carruba is nearly as good. But Ariel is so clearly this group’s star, followed very closely by Mr. Leathers. I’d drop Jeremy sooner, rather than later. “That was hot, man,” Randy says, adding that Ariel surprises him. They’re all going through. Sigh. Stop letting Jeremy skate.
8:20 p.m. Time for Adam Brock and Some Other People. That’s the name of this particular ensemble, led by Adam tickling the ivories. Erika Van Pelt has ample personality as does Angie Zeiderman. But what the heck competition does Angie think she’s in? But Erika has talent as well as personality. I’m not convinced Angie does. And Shelby Tweeten is just totally forgettable, which is a problem in a group of scene-stealers. They all advance. Bah. I thought we were cutting people today. I thought we were being brutal. BE BRUTAL.
8:29 p.m. TOOTH BRUSHING MONTAGE. Now I get why this episode has to be two hours.
8:29 p.m. Why are they telling us NOW about what the groups have to do?
8:30 p.m. Kinky USO Babes. Schyler Dixon, Brielle Von Hugel and some other girl are giving Steven Tyler confusing and age-inappropriate World War II flashbacks. Tyler admits that he remembers making out to “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” back in the day, but probably not with the 1940s theme. The third girl, who didn’t even get introduced in the performance, is going home.
8:32 p.m. Wayne Wilson and his awesome afro is heading home. Ashley Robles who wasn’t featured after San Diego is gone, as are three or four young women who I don’t remember.
8:33 p.m. It’s up to Reed Grimm, Eben Franckewitz and two blondes I don’t recognize to stop the bleeding. Reed is quirky and weird (not in a Casey Abrams way), but he’s also pretty good. Are American teenagers gonna vote for him? Ummm… No. But J-Lo might. Elise Testone is one of the blondes! And her voice cracks on every high note. It’s awful. Haley Johnson is the other blonde. she’s forgettable. Now Eben? Teenage girls may vote for him. He’s certainly Bieber-esque. Oh, Elise. You’re too much like a 40-year-old cocktail waitress from Jersey. Don’t age yourself up. And Haley makes herself memorable with a great last note that’s sure to keep her safe. The judges appear not to have noticed all of Elise’s voice-cracking and all four singers advance.
8:43 p.m. Richie “Cowboy” Law and Jermaine “Gigantor” Jones form an odd, low-voiced duo, unwanted by anybody else. As always, Cowboy doesn’t lack for confidence. Heejun, however, pities Jermaine. Debra Byrd, their vocal coach, isn’t convinced that Cowboy knows what the song they’re singing is supposed to sound like. But, naturally, Cowboy is sure Jermaine is the one having trouble.”Two low voices? What’s this gonna be?” J-Lo ponders. Jermaine goes first. He’s soulful and smooth. Richie goes next. He’s a puppet version of Scotty McCreery. Jermaine is so good. Richie is so silly and annoying. Can’t we please sent Richie home? No. We can not. The judges love them both. Jermaine and Richie spend a while expressing respect for each other. “Perfect pairing,” J-Lo raves. She thinks Richie is a gentleman. Oh, J-Lo. You’re a sap.
8:50 p.m. Hallie Day is very good. Baylie Brown is super. Chelsea Sorrell? Do we know her? She’s good, too. All three of them are advancing.
8:55 p.m. It has, indeed, already been a long day, Ryan.
8:55 p.m. A group of three people I don’t recognize is trying to mix things up with a Buddy Holly classic. Jessica Sanchez has a very big voice, probably a bit too big, really. She’s using it like a blunt instrument. Deandrea Brackens is the opposite. He’s all little weak grace notes and affected falsetto and shoulder-length perm. Candice Glover goes last and she’s the best in the group by a wide margin. The judges are very enthusiastic about this entire performance, which comes across as a trying-too-hard hodge-podge to me. The judges stand. “Praise the Lord,” says Steven. “Y’all blew that out,” Randy says. Randy’s especially impressed with Jessica’s shouting. They’re all advancing.
9:01 p.m. TWIST: The judges can still make cuts from the Day One groups the next day, if they prefer people from Day Two. That sucks. Make decisions and live with them, judges.
9:06 p.m. Let’s plug “Viva, Elvis.”
9:07 p.m. Time for four guys we’ve barely spent any time with. They’re doing “Jailhouse Rock.” Clayton Farhat, Adam Lee Decker, Curtis Gray and “Rodney” (Scott?) Dangerfield. Those are their names. I’m going to forget those names immediately. None of them is very good, but it’s not a “singer” song, per se. They’re going to be judged, I guess, based on energy and… hair gel? Curtis has the least interesting energy and the least interesting hair gel and the worst voice. “That was definitely fun,” Randy says. Then the judges shred the performance. Scott, Clayton and Adam make it through. It’s the end of the line for Curtis. I can’t disagree with that as an overall assessment. Curtis tells his fellow singers to keep on doing it.
9:12 p.m. Caleb Johnson and Joshua Sanders seem to be channeling Meatloaf more than Elvis. They’re performing with a couple other people who advance with them.
9:13 p.m. Joshua Ledet has a world off potential. I still don’t buy Shannon Magrane. They’re both advancing. Two people from their group are not.
9:18 p.m. “Idol” in the hot tub!
9:19 p.m. Our next group is performing in pink, sparkling dresses and they all felt like they were too good to practice with the band. Recipe for disaster? Not for Britnee Kellogg. Or Jessica Phillips. Or for the third girl whose name I forget. All three are yellers, so they didn’t need rehearsal time, because they weren’t worried about nuance. They’re like a Motown girl group in which all three girls are sure they’re Diana Ross. No blending. Lots of diva-ing. Randy thought that Courtney — the girl I couldn’t remember — took some risks that didn’t work out. Steven wanted more risks, though, from Jessica. Courtney’s convinced she was “pretty on-pocket.” Well OK. Britnee made it through. Courtney also made it through. But Jessica is done.”I hate this,” J-Lo says. “It doesn’t seem like they’re looking for real artists,” says Jessica, who may not know what the phrase “real artist” means.
9:28 p.m. WHY WON’T THIS END?
9:38 p.m. Peggi Blue gives advice like, “Do. Not. Not Sing It.” She’s unhappy with Lauren Gray, instructing her that “There’s no crying in music.” That’s just factually inaccurate, Peggi.Will Peggi’s coaching pay off? Well, Lauren Gray sounds fantastic. She’s got a Kelly Clarkson voice. Wendy Taylor has a big voice, much less expressive than Lauren’s, but still very capable. Mathenee should have been eliminated yesterday. He’s unpleasant. Empty theatrics, better suited for a very different forum. Steven calls Lauren and Wendy forward and eliminates Mathenee, which was exactly correct. Whew.
9:33 p.m. Peggi’s back to meet with Phillip Phillips, Heejun Han and two other people. Heejun has already done research on Peggi, so he’s scared of her. They’re doing “I Only Have Eyes For You” and Peggi seems impressed. “Lovin’ it,” Peggi says. Neco Star gets the number off to a good start and he’s followed in kind by Jairon Jackson. Heejun is, once again, silky and unintelligible. I haven’t liked a single non-guitar Phillip Phillips performance they’ve saved him for the end. It’s still not great on Phillip’s part. Neco was the star of that performance. “They have arrived,” Randy enthuses. They all advance.
9:44 p.m. It’s Groove Sauce, minus Reed Grimm. They’re our last group tonight. Their instinct is to do a full-on quartet, but Katharine McPhee’s mother has to remind them that this is a competition. They still start off with very nicely composed and restrained harmonies before moving into star turns. Craighton Fraker may well be in his wheelhouse here. He could do a touring production of “Jersey Boys” starting tomorrow. Aaron Marcellus and Nick Boddington are fine, though Nick mangles a couple high notes. Jen Hirsh is the standout. The judges are pleased, especially with Jen. Randy at least correctly singles Nick out as the weakest in the group. And Nick is the only one who isn’t advancing. The other members of Nick’s group declare that the judges were wrong.
9:50 p.m. The drama has only just begun. And more cuts must be made. Day One contestants have been called back. Limbo. Which means… commercial time.
9:54 p.m. J-Lo explains that it’s necessary to get down to the Top 40, so they’re going to reeliminate people. Gabi Carrubba is a surprise elimination from the first group. That’s COLD. She’d been so pleased that the performance hadn’t lived up to her fears. She’s crying and embarrassed and, let’s be frank, “Idol” embarrassed her. There was a better way of doing that.
9:56 p.m. Gabi’s still crying. Schyler Dixon gets eliminated, which crushes her brother Colton.
9:56 p.m. Colton’s crying, but Schyler vows to come back next year. Angie should have been eliminated a day earlier and she’s eliminated now. Candice Glover, however, shouldn’t have gone home. And… SHOCKER!!!! Johnny Keyser is gone! Jairon Jackson is also done. Britnee Kellogg is eliminated and in tears. “I worked my butt off. My every performance was perfect,” she cries. She’s wrong about the perfection.
9:59 p.m. This cut [the whole episode, not just this harsh last bit] eliminated 27 people? I can’t tell how many of those are people who the judges put through the ringer and then told were safe, only to have to bring them back and, on the basis of absolutely no information, be sent home. That’s an awful structural decision that I hope “Idol” doesn’t repeat next year. It’s not fair to the contestants and it makes the process look even more arbitrary than it already is.
What’d you think of tonight’s two-hour marathon? Who are you sad to see go?