The Group Round on American Idol always reminds me of the part of high school everyone likes to forget about.
There is always … so … much … drama.
There are catfights, accusations are commonplace and fatigue and frustration complicate matters. And then there are the unforgiving words of uber judge Simon Cowell, who rarely shows any mercy at this particular level of the Idol journey. As contestant Mark Labriola pleaded for another chance Wednesday night, Simon cut him off in mid-sentence.
“Don’t beg, Mark,” Simon said. “It’s not cool.”
Or when Moorea Mosa was bemoaning the fact a group member up and quit shortly before her bunch was to take the stage. She sulked and talked of trying to overcome problems and hardships in preparing their song.
“It’s not a hardship,” Simon said. “That’s rubbish.”
There were 71 who survived the Group Round, and that number must be cut to 24 during next week’s shows — and then we’re off to the finals.
For me, the bummer of the night was seeing Matt Lawrence ousted. He was my No. 1 pick coming out of the auditions. More than anything, I think he was a victim of the group he was in and the song they chose to sing. Matt was the guy who had spent four years in prison, but wowed everyone at the Orlando auditions with his “Trouble” by Ray La Montagne. I’m convinced he could have been a factor this season, but who said life is fair?
THIS WEEK’S BEST
As entertaining as Group Round is, it’s always difficult to gauge individual prowess because of the concept. Hearing a few seconds of a song is not a fair way to grade a participant.
The following 10 singers are the ones I liked the best this week, but it does not include at least two of the sure-fire favorites (John Park, Tyler Grady) for the finals because we did not hear them sing this week, which was disappointing because we heard several of the top candidates sing more than once. I had Park ranked No. 3 and Grady No. 5.
1. Andrew Garcia (No. 2 after auditions)
2. Janell Wheeler
3. Lily Scott
4. Didi Benami (6)
5. Crystal Bowersox
6. Casey James
7. Katie Stevens (17)
8. Katelyn Epperley (7)
9. Jermaine Purifoy (8)
10. Tori Kelly
Note: Of my top 10 following auditions, seven are still alive. Another I had in the top 10, Danelle Hayes, did not take part in Hollywood Week. No explanation was given by Idol officials.
IDOL THOUGHTS ON A WEDNESDAY NIGHT
Don’t expect Kara to roll out the welcome mat if Howard Stern would be Simon’s 2011 replacment as a judge. She said Wednesday that she doesn’t know if Stern is truly going to take the spot, but she clearly wasn’t keen on the idea. “I don’t think he has a musical background or any kind of music… um… anything,” she said in published reports, declining to mention the shock jock by name. “If you are going to replace Simon, you have to have that background. Someone who knows about signing great artists and being a part of their career from the very beginning like (Simon) has done.”
Adam Lambert is taping an acoustic concert this weekend in New York that will be shown later this year on VH1.
This year’s eight audition episodes averaged 26.2 million viewers, down 6 percent from the 27.9 million for the six tryout episodes that aired last year, which fell 4 percent from 2008 … but:
season premiere in January.judging table was a ratings bonanza for Tuesday’s show, boosting audiences on the most-watched TV show in the United States. Some 27.7 million Americans tuned in for the debut of DeGeneres, according to early ratings data on Wednesday, up 12 percent from last week and the second biggest audience since the
FROM AROUND THE IDOL NATION
Billboard: (Ellen DeGeneres) proved herself to be more than capable at judging musical talent. When Orlando-based 22-year-old Antonio “Skii Bo Ski” Wheeler unnervingly paced his way through a rendition of the Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” DeGeneres was brutally candid. “You frighten me,” she said, triggering a few laughs among the contestants watching from their seats. “You were stalking us. You were like a leopard behind a cage.” When Wheeler countered, “This is the American dream!” DeGeneres replied, “Of course. But seriously, don’t frighten your audience — don’t get so intense. Sexy and scary; it’s a fine line.” … Many debated whether DeGeneres would get along with her new judging partner Simon Cowell — especially in light of reports that they had clashed during taping of the Hollywood rounds — but the two showed no signs of a feud. “So this is it, huh? I come on, you leave,” DeGeneres said to Cowell, who laughed awkwardly.
Television Without Pity.com: Andrew Garcia sings “Straight Up” in that Kris Allen rewrite way, like a strummy cover, but luckily his voice is amazing and he has a great melodic sense. Randy of course laughs really loud so everybody knows he recognizes the song and recognized it before anybody else, because Randy is interminably and forever a teenage boy at his first Green Day concert. Luckily, the song sounds amazing and Kara flips her wig and says how Paula would be “screaming and yelling and dancing and dying” — I assume implying that she would be doing these things because of the song and not, you know, just generally — and Kara compares Andrew to Adam because of the ‘taking a song’ and ‘just flipping it,’ I guess referring to Adam in the context of the show, where he did that. Sometimes the things that amaze Kara are really astounding.
The Newark Star-Ledger: But for the most part (Tuesday) night, Ellen was confident and direct. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, and she didn’t try to hog the spotlight. All in all, it was a very good start to the Ellen era on American Idol. The start of Hollywood Week also was refreshing because some of the best performers seen during the first four weeks of Season 9 unexpectedly stepped it up to a higher level, and some with high expectations fizzled out and were sent home.”
Realityblurred.com: DeGeneres seemed more polished and on-point than the people who’ve been sitting at that (judging) table for eight years.