'American Idol' recap: Group sing gets cut-throat

Janell reports on last night's dramatic group sing extravaganza!:

Are you ready for the group sing? Flashbacks from previous seasons show us all of the crazies who, strangely enough, did not make it into the Top 12.* I think that's a lesson, and I'm going to call out the crazies tonight and make sure they don't move forward.


It's 8:30 p.m. at the end of Day 2, and 168 contestants are left. They have one night to form groups and rehearse from a catalog of 20 songs. Some Day 1 contestants formed groups early and started rehearsing, trying to jump ahead, but then a wily executive producer tells them that each group must have at least 1 person from Day 1 and 1 person from Day 2. Oh, look at all those plans going awry.

In the auditorium, some pre-made groups begin advertising for new members. Adorable Tomato is in a group called the Sugar Mamas (why?), and they are looking for an extra member. Tiffany Rios of the star bra and superior attitude informs the camera that she will scope out the groups before selecting which one to join. Unfortunately, the 167 other contestants don't play that, and she is rejected by several groups. She auditions for Scotty the Cowboy, makes him uncomfortable, and he backs away. So then she goes to the Sugar Mamas and steals the new member (Jessica) that they just got. I'm calling it right now: Tiffany is crazy, and anyone she convinces to join forces with her is crazy, too, and they won't survive. Meanwhile, Scotty the Cowboy is searching for a group, and ends up in the same group as Jacee the Baby Boy.


By 10:30 p.m., Tiffany and Jessica have been unable to find a required third person, so they get special permission from a producer to do a duet. Yeah, have fun with that.

Finally, the groups are settled. Time for singing and dancing in the halls, the garage, the bathrooms. One group consists of 15- and 16-year olds, they call themselves the Minors, and they all have their moms watching the rehearsals. They claim that their youth brings them energy and new dance moves, and they won't stress. James Durbin, the Asperger's rocker guy, is in a group that is singing the same song as the Minors (Queen's "Somebody to Love") and he's not a fan of the stage moms.

Remember singing exes Rob and Chelsee? And Jacqueline whose boyfriend Nick got the boot? They've formed the group Three's Company and they pretend to miss Nick. Rob's not having a good time with his ex-girlfriend and Jacqueline the drill sergeant, especially since he's not much of a dancer.

Over in a corner is emotional Ashley Sullivan. She has cried her way through every stage of the competition, and now she's falling apart. Her group forces her to pull it together or let them get on without her, and she claims that she wants to quit. "Who do I talk to to go home?" she sobs to the camera. After the commercial break, a producer convinces Ashley to think it over. Her boyfriend is there, conveniently, while she thinks. Somewhere around 2:30 a.m. she decides to stay, and her group lets her back in. I'm not sure how I feel about her.

Here's the group with Scotty the Cowboy and Jacee, plus Clint the Karaoke Host with Novelty White-Framed Eyeglasses. For some unarticulated reason, Clint decides that Jacee doesn't fit the group and kicks him out. Jacee walks away with way too much dignity, and only gets emotional after walking the floor for a bit and not finding a group.

Remember how the group with Brett the Adorable Tomato lost a member to Crazy Tiffany? They might have to disband because they don't have a Day 2 person. But wait! Jacee is a Day 2 person! Brett asks him to join. Jacee hesitates because he doesn't know the song ("Mercy"), but since the group is willing to take him, he joins up. Brett is way too sweet, and Jacee's attitude about it all is way too mature. I didn't know there were so many reasonable people at group night.

Here's an unreasonable person: Jordan Dorsey, who was fussy about letting people into his group. Now he thinks his group sucks, so he leaves and joins a different one.

With all the shuffling over, we'll skip to the morning. The judges arrive and give brief pep talks. A trio of girls, Pia Toscano, Alessandra Guercio, and Brielle Von Hugel, sing with simple strut dancing. They had no drama, I don't remember who they are, but they all go through.


Now for the two groups that Jordan Dorsey was part of. The group he is currently in includes Robbie Rosen, and they all make it. The group he left, which includes Adrian Michael and Lauren Turner, also goes through. What a nail biter that wasn't.

Crazy Tiffany and Jessica take the stage, and they sit down in "sexy" poses. Jennifer Lopez whispers, "OMG, you guys, I am so scared of this group." Tiff and Jess sing to each other, and they are not good. Randy waves them to stop, and they're both cut (told you!). Tiffany tries to beg, but Jessica gets her to leave the stage.

Some group called Spanglish is allegedly up next, but Kevin Campos is still in the hotel. To allegedly kill time, Steven Tyler gets on stage and plays drums for a bit. After the group performs, Kevin does not make it through. Jovany Barreto and Karen Rodriguez do, though.

Here's a group of girls, one of whom can snort a noodle up her nose and spit it out her mouth. Kids, go try that at home. (Editor's note: Don't.) They ask Steven to sit in a chair on stage and they sing "Some Kind of Wonderful" to him. They lean on him and play with his hair, and Jennifer Lopez just laughs at him. Only one girl named Lauren goes through, I didn't catch if she was Noodle Nose girl, though.

Some people from Nashville are up next, including Matt Dillard, the country boy who wore overalls and a tank top. Matt doesn't go through. Colton Dixon has bangs, kind of like the guy on Glee who kind of looks like Justin Bieber, and he goes through.

Here's a montage of people forgetting words, singing badly, and going home. This includes that girl, and that girl, and Paris Tassin whose baby has hearing loss, and Emily the Betty Boop-voiced girl, and that girl who loved Steven Tyler, and Aaron Gutierrez of the Gutierrez brothers.


Now comes the group with drama queen Ashley Sullivan, who decided it wouldn't be fair to quit the competition just yet. Randy says their group had the best harmonies so far, and they all go through.

Trumped-up rivalry time: The Minors (and their stage mothers) versus the Deep Vs (what?). First up are the Deep Vs, with James Durbin the rocker, Emma Henry, Danny Pate, Caleb Johnson, and John Jordan. It's not so good, but James gets to do some decent screaming at the end. Let me pause here and say that I appreciate his voice, I like that he can scream, but I don't know if he can really own his look or if he's just dressing that way because it's a look that goes with his voice. Basically, I found his studded vest to be overkill, and now he's got multiple scarves stuffed into the back of his pants to look like a tail. An homage to Steven Tyler's microphone scarves? Okay, but, don't do a tail. I'm hoping he makes it past Hollywood week, and I'm hoping he gets some different clothes. I know some contestants think they have a certain image and they want to be remembered by it*, but if Adam Lambert could change up his lopsided hair and wear a white suit, then anybody can and should embrace the makeover. So, detour over, Caleb and James go through.

The Minors take the stage next, with Keonna Evans, Jalen Harris, Sarina-Joi Crowe, Felix Ramsey, and Deandre Brackensick. They are pretty darn good, and the judges give them a standing ovation. They all make it through, and the moms rush the stage.

Some other group isn't very good, but Corey Levoy and Hollie Cavanagh go through.

Two groups have decided to go a capella. The first group includes Julie Zorrilla, who wore admirable shoes during her audition and now has a lovely stage dress, and Casey Abrams. They go through. The next group includes stadium cleaner Naima Adedapo and Jacob Lusk. They all go through, and Ryan's voiceover declares that Jacob Lusk is a new star.

One of the better group names is 4 Non-Blondes and That Guy. That Guy is Carson Higgins, a somewhat dorky looking blond wearing Converse shoes, and I wonder if he's That Guy that I saw briefly during auditions and loved. Because he is dorky and I might love him. Caleb Hawley, Chris Medina, and Carson all make it through. Devyn Rush, the singing waitress, does not.


We're almost through here. It's time for Jacee and the Adorable Tomato, renamed Sugar Mama and the Babies. It also includes Denise Jackson, Stevie Cain, and Natalie Hanson. During his solo, Jacee forgets the words but sings in melody that he doesn't want to go home. Jacee remarks afterwards that he joined the group late, so the judges let the group elaborate. Jacee is diplomatic about being asked to leave the other group. The judges call everyone but Jacee to step forward, and then they call his name, too, and the audience bursts out in relieved applause. They all go through. So far, Hollywood week has not eaten Jacee, we were all wrong! At least I was.

Following them is the group that Jacee left. Before they start, Randy calls them out for booting Jacee, and Cowboy Scotty McCreery apologizes for not sticking up for Jacee. The group includes Monique de los Santos, Frances Coontz, and karaoke glasses man Clint Jun Gamboa. The judges play mind games with Clint, but they all go through. Out in the hall, Scotty is crying about Jacee. Yep, if you were wondering if you would ever see Jacee after Hollywood week, the answer is decidedly yes. If he gets booted, he will surely be on talk shows. And good for him.

It's the last group, Three's Company. Rob is very tired and can't remember the lyrics. Chelsee Oaks and Jacqueline Dunford dance and strut while Rob sings to the back wall, then sings that he's tired but he'll do his best. He doesn't have the charm or following of Jacee, though, and the judges are not impressed. They boot him, but the girls make it through. Rob is happy to leave, and Chelsee is happy to point out that they aren't getting back together. Hollywood: Not a Love Story.

That's it, folks! And now I will share my footnote about crazy people and people clinging to their looks.

*A few years ago, there was a guy who was very dramatic during Hollywood week, and he cried a lot during group night. He made it through to the next round, though, only to be ignored by the People of America. Later that year, I got a knock on my door. It was a woman and her daughter, and they were selling raffle tickets for a grade school. The woman proudly told me that her son had been on Idol. She told me his name, and it didn't ring a bell. She told me he was "the one with the scarf," and it didn't ring a bell but I pretended that I totally knew who she was talking about. When she left, I checked online, and discovered that her son was that dramatic boy, and in fact he did wear a scarf around his neck the whole time. I think this proves me correct in so many ways, but mainly: crazy dramatic people don't go far, and committing to a certain look doesn't necessarily work for you or make you memorable. That's the end of that story. It does have an additional footnote that involves a 3 a.m. doorbell, the loss of my favorite Disneyland jacket, and me getting the heck out of Vermont, but none of that has to do with Idol, so I'll spare you the details.

Hey, there's more Idol tomorrow night! It's big solo night! It's cutting 100 contestants down to 50! There's footage of an ambulance! Will we learn the fate of White House Intern, since she made no appearance tonight? I bet we will.