To give “American Idol” a little credit, Wednesday night’s epic two-hour Group Day episode definitely introduced us to some new people, several of whom might possibly have seemed talented. Unfortunately, because I hadn’t met them before and because their names whizzed by in a matter of seconds, I probably didn’t retain their names.
Hopefully Thursday’s (February 17) blissfully short “Idol” episode will reintroduce a few of them until they stick in my head.
Click through for the full recap…
8:00 p.m. ET I actually don’t know what tonight’s “Idol” episode will be filled with. And nothing in Ryan Seacrest’s teaser gives me any indication of what’s ahead. Ooooh. Mystery!
8:01 p.m. 100 contestants are sitting in a holding room and the judges are going over piles of photographs making choices. Ryan promises some of the most incredible performances in the show’s history. That’s not at all unlikely!
8:02 p.m. Was that Jacee Badeaux doing a weird chipmunk thing? I want to see a featurette on that!
8:02 p.m. Oh right. Solo performances and then the Rooms of Doom, I guess? But usually the Rooms of Doom episode begins by showing us the contestants in their individual rooms, waiting fitfully for the results. Instead, everybody’s together waiting fitfully. I guess it amounts to the same thing.
8:03 p.m. Up first is the very, very attractive Haley Reinhart, who I vaguely remember from Milwaukee. We didn’t see her mess up her Group Performance, but tonight we get a lot of her wailing, growling, rather desperate (but probably pretty decent) version of “God Bless the Child.” Randy Jackson is laughing through the whole performance, which he seems to mean as a compliment. Jennifer Lopez says it was redemption.
8:05 p.m. Ashthon Jones is next, but she’s a singer I vaguely remember from yesterday, suffering through Ashley Sullivan’s Drama Queen routine. Ashthon has an extra “h” in her name and she tackles “And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going),” which is almost never a good idea, unless you happen to be genuinely awesome. She seems to be pretty good, but we only hear her on the “easy” part of the song. Just when she gets to the climax, the part that separates the Jennifer Hudsons from the chafe, they cut away. What the heck? Did she botch the climax? Certainly the judges are pleased, but not blown away. If she’d nailed the big notes, they’d be standing, right?
8:06 p.m. I love Thia Megia’s name. Her version of “What a Wonderful World” is very, very solid. If she has any personality at all, I think she has a good chance of being heard from for a while.
8:11 p.m. Adrian Michael and Caleb Johnson both stink and blame the band. Frances Coontz who I REALLY liked yesterday somehow seems to miss every single note. Is she singing the wrong key or is the band playing in the wrong key? Poor Frances.
8:12 p.m. Bully Clint Jun Gamboa, who picked on poor Jacee yesterday, does a theatrical version of “George on my Mind.” We’ve yet to hear him actually just sing the melody of a song. But the crowd responds to his over-the-top theatrics.
8:13 p.m. Kendra Chantelle does a much purer take of “Georgia on My Mind.” I’d much rather listen to her than Clint. And I get the feeling she probably wouldn’t kick poor Jacee out of her group for not having the right “vibe.” Sofia Shoria also does “Georgia on my Mind” and does it well.
8:15 p.m. Chris Medina thinks he’s going off the beaten path by doing “My Prerogative,” but Obligatory Goofball Carson Higgins is also tackling Bobby Brown. Carson’s doing the standard melody, but working with the band. Chris has rearranged the song and he’s on his guitar. Carson wants to get the crowd involved, but it’s pretty much a comedy performance. Unlike Anoop Desai, who did a similarly straight-forward version that simultaneously amused and impressed, Carson is just good for a chuckle. Chris has some actual musicality, but he leaves the stage a bit disappointed by his performance.
8:22 p.m. Let’s see some musical talent. Julie Zorrilla is both gorgeous and apparently capable of playing the piano. In contrast, Robbie Rosen really shouldn’t play the piano anymore, not that he actually played the piano very much in this particular performance. Sorry. I’m not supposed to insult the kid named Rosen. He seems like a mensch.
8:24 p.m. OK, Casey Abrams. Are you gonna be more than a Taylor Hicks wannabe? Wow. He brings out a standing bass and does a genuine jazz vocal that transitions into some gritty rock edge. I swear I didn’t realize til the chorus that he was also doing “Georgia on My Mind.” I take back any previous mockery. He *may* actually be a good deal more talented than I gave him credit for. “Being a bass player, I love it,” Randy Jackson gushes. Of course, when Casey asks if Randy wants to come up and play, the dawg giggles and demurs.
8:26 p.m. I love how Ryan’s voice-over makes it sound like Chelsee Oaks was in some way traumatized by saying “Bye” to Rob Bolin yesterday. She was probably overjoyed at that. But Chelsee may be more plausibly concerned by the abrupt departure of Bottle Blonde Jacqueline, who had to bow out due to an emergency health issue. Chelsee starts out rough on her version of “Because of You,” but she gains confidence and ends up shining.
8:31 p.m. Did I miss anybody after Chelsee? Slingbox issues. Oh, technology. How you mock me.
8:33 p.m. “Unforgettable”? Which performances so far have been unforgettable? None that I’ve heard, other than Casey Abrams I suppose. Up next is Lauren Alaina, who hasn’t merely been relentlessly pimped by the producers, she’s also persisted in singing “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” much to Steven’s pleasure. I really don’t like Lauren as much as the producers seem to be convinced I should. She can’t hold notes. She has a big voice, but no lungs. This concerns me.
8:34 p.m. Jacob Lusk who appeared on our radar yesterday whips out a showy rendition of “God Bless the Child.” He’s got a very full tool box of vocal tics, but he seems to think they’re all required on every performance. I don’t think anybody’s going to deny that he has a tremendous voice, but he’s exhausting to watch and listen to. Apparently the crowd isn’t exhausted. Everybody stands for Jacob, from the judges to the crowd. Jacob walks off the stage and collapses into the arms of two relatives bawling. “I’m not a crier,” he says. “You could have fooled me,” Ryan responds. Yeah. That’s a lot of drama.
8:37 p.m. After Jacob, I almost appreciate the simplicity of John Wayne Schulz, whose country thing is mighty simple and well done.
8:38 p.m. “Emotional Time Bomb Ashley Sullivan,” is how Ryan describes this season’s Drama Queen. She’s too much for me to handle. Hidden underneath the twitching and the dangerously unstable behavior, she has a great voice, but she stops singing mid-performance after losing the words and can’t recover at all. No matter how fine her voice is, I can’t deal with the antics and you just know that she’s going to find a way to make every episode about her until she flames out. Then again, I suspect Ashley would be an immediate favorite for the Vote For The Worst types who would, justifiably, be eagerly anticipating the sort of epic, live primetime flameout “Idol” has largely avoided. In that case, Go Ashley? Sigh.
8:44 p.m. Several good performances, including Jacee Badeaux, singing “This is the Time of my Life,” which I assume refers to that moment he escaped from Clint Jun Gamboa.
8:46 p.m. Please tell me Scotty McCreery is going to sing something different tonight? Whew. He does, but he doesn’t know the lyrics to whatever it is that he’s singing. The “Idol” producers have a little fun with subtitling whatever it is he’s singing instead of “I Hope You Dance.” Scott admits he might deserve to get cut, hoping his deep voice might keep him around.
8:53 p.m. Did we not get to see James “The Syndrome” Durbin’s solo performance?
8:48 p.m. There are no second chances, a bleak thought from Ryan Seacrest.
8:49 p.m They’re doing FOUR ROOMS THIS YEAR!
8:54 p.m. The judges have made their decisions and separated the rooms. Time for the judges to deliver the news…
8:55 p.m. J-Lo tells the first room, which includes Clint, Ashley, Jacee, Jacob, Robbie, Lauren, James and several other favorites, that they’re safe.
8:56 p.m. The second room, which doesn’t appear to feature a single person I care about, is told that they didn’t make it. Briele and Corey? Bye, whoever you were.
8:57 p.m. Chelsee Oaks and Mark Gutierrez (Who?) are in the third room and they’re also all doomed. I feel bad for Chelsee, but she was really rough at the start of her performance tonight.
8:58 p.m. The fourth room features all of other people we’ve gotten to know. Naturally, they’re all going through as well.
8:59 p.m. So basically, nobody we cared about got sent home. That wasn’t very dramatic.
9:00 p.m. We already knew this twist: On next Wednesday’s episode, the remaining contestants go to Las Vegas and sing Beatles songs. It’s sure to be fun!
Who’d you like tonight? Casey Abrams was pretty clearly tops for me. Did you have any other favorites? Did you feel sad about *anybody* who got cut?