It's now the group round, "the most infamous night of Hollywood Week," Ryan Seacrest narrates. "For the past 10 years here, it's been the ultimate test of strength, endurance and determination. The critical challenge that truly separates the pack.
"It involves pitting clashing personalities against a nearly impossible task: In just one night, the contestants must form into groups, choose from a list of 20 songs, design choreography and master their routine. And all of this with the expectation of perfection when they hit the stage the following morning."
But, wait. Didn't someone fall off the stage in last night's episode?
Yes, "American Idol" hyped up Symone Black's fall from the stage only to sneakily end the episode so we could spend the next day wondering if she was all right (oh, was it just me? OK).
To make the long story short, Symone fell, she blacked out for a bit but gained consciousness and "Idol" producers/crew asked for Coke (because you have to go with the sponsor, otherwise if you say "Pepsi" then you are supporting that other FOX show). She sipped from a green can with its logo cleverly covered (what, there's no green Coke? But St. Patrick's Day is coming up), and was taken to the hospital by her dad. She was told that she was dehydrated and came back to the hotel with everybody freaking out about their groups.
Good times in Hollywood.
To the group round: Ken Warwick announces that each group should consist of four to five contestants, a mixture from day one and day two. Many are shocked because they already grouped themselves and started practicing. I am shocked that they didn't learn from last season.
But on to the chaos! Let's pick some notable groups and individuals:
MTI, consisting of Heejun Han, Phillip Phillips, Jairon Jackson and a cowboy named Ritchie. This is a comical group, mostly because of some golden cowboy quotes from Heejun ("We started out really rough. Phillip had a kidney stone and cowboy had a ... brain stone."). You see, cowboy found their group boring, so he took over and added some choreography. "I don't know how they do it in cowboy town, but this is not how we break it down, man," lamented Heejun to the camera. Who is he talking about? "Cowboy ... I don't even know his name." My favorite part was Heejun talking about the ridiculousness of the move cowboy taught, then cowboy suddenly comes out and Heejun turns silent. Then continues again. "Now I have a very, very bad perspective towards cowboys. Even Dallas Cowboys. Freakin' cowboys."
The Betties (or is it The Bettys?) consisting of Brianna, Jennifer, and some other girls who want to go to sleep. One states that she won't have a voice tomorrow if she doesn't get some sleep. But Jennifer wants to stay because the group is far from being prepared (if we learned anything from past group rounds, it's that a good singer can still stand out from a horrible group performance. So maybe sleepy girl is on to something?). Everybody except Jennifer goes off to bed, leaving Jennifer all alone to work on the performance, crying. But, wait! Brianna comes back to help. "I'm not leaving! I'm not leaving!" she exclaims. It's like that romantic film where the couple say goodbye in the airport, and then the one boarding the plane turns around, decides not to leave, and runs. "I can't be apart from you, my love!"
Alicia the cop. She needs to have her own bullet point because girlfriend be crazy. She has a hard time finding a group, but I guess that's what happens when you take the mic and tell the auditorium, "My name is Alicia, I'm a cop, and I need a group, so get your (rhymes with "plucking grass") up here if you want to sing 'Joy to the World' or 'Stuck Like Glue.'. Got it? One, two, three, let's go." She finds Dustin, who is also without a group, as she proudly exclaims, "He doesn't have a group either. Nobody likes him either." Way to boost morale, Officer Alicia. Bravo. Amy Brumfield, who is probably infected with some virus with nobody wanting her to join their group, enlists in Officer Alicia's small army. However, Amy and Dustin were either enticed by another duo, or turned off by Officer Alicia's "cop-ness", that they leave the small army to join the duo that called "Joy to the World" a "Christmas Song" (no it's the other "Joy to the World"). Officer Alicia, again all alone, yells to the auditorium, "Everybody listen up! I need a day one person to sing 'Joy to the World'!" She continues looking for a group by telling people that she's a cop. What? Is this a house party that she needs to put a stop to? Why not just flash the badge?
A group consisting of Elizabeth LeTendre, Leah LaBelle, and Dina Lopez get to the stage to perform a fantastic rendition of "Young Hearts Run Free" ... oh, wait, did I suddenly time travel to 2004? Sorry, I didn't mean to remind you about the awesomeness of this group amidst the craziness of tonight's episode.
Amy Brumfield, who spent a good portion backstage crying about being sick and not having a group, turned sorrow into joy when she found three group mates. But sometimes people just don't like to be content, as she starts complaining again. She complains about being sick to the group, she complains to Michael Orland, "Idol's" associate musical director. And then, an epiphany. "I'm speaking myself into being healthy. I'm not letting the devil play me like that. Uh-uh. He wants to play hardball? I'll play. Guess who's on my team? Oh, yeah: Jesus."
I think I was also bitten by the delusional bug when I forgot what I learned from past seasons: The group round's drama and performances don't go in the same episode. How could I forget that? Probably because "Idol" kept teasing about people collapsing in the auditorium as if it were in the same episode, or because I really wanted to hear groups perform "Hit 'Em Up Style."
Either way, group round continues next week with the performances as Ryan declares, "It's the most onstage drama we've ever seen."