Hollywood Week rolls on as last night’s viewers were treated to the group performances, one more step towards selecting the final 12 for season five of American Idol. 99 people remained in the Orpheum Theatre and eventually they were divided into groups of three or four. They returned to their hotel at 2am, following an exhausting day of rehersals. Just as in previous years, some used the nervous energy to keep practicing while others needed to sleep and regroup mentally.
During the first ten minutes of the show I was wishing to God that someone would put a muzzle on Terrell Brittenum. He doesn’t just have a comment for every single little thing that transpires, he has a lengthy lecture to give. Now give the man a reason to stress out, like the fact that two members of his group chose sleep over continuing to rehearse through the night and well, the result is hellish. I finally found a GOOD use for the closed captioning option on my remote!
Looking in on competitors during the breakfast before group performances is always a trip. Some are tense but confident while others don’t feel ready at all. Tears, bad blood, and f-bombs abound. There are always a few that are clearly not getting along. Brenna Gethers was one of those. As she later put it while pointing to the big sign on the stage behind her, “It says American Idol not American Idols — there’s no ‘S’ on the end.” and really, no one could argue the validity of her point.
The first group up consisted of Paris Bennett, Stephanie Scott, and Hanna Freeman singing the old classic, “Emotion”. When they finished no one was really thrilled and Simon Cowell summed it up with, “Wasn’t great.”. Two out of the three have proven themselves and both Paris and Stephanie advanced.
Terrell Brittenum, Anthony Hansen, Elliott Yamin, and Jose “Sway” Penala were up next with a Motownish version of “In Her Kiss”. They held up pretty well and just as the judges were about to speak — you guessed it! Terrell asked to speak first and then proceeded to slam his group for not pulling together and practicing more. Am I nuts here or is this the last thing you should do in front of the people who are about to decide your fate? In spite of that huge misstep, all but Anthony moved on to the next phase. I was stunned that Simon Cowell didn’t bounce Terrell at that point.
One of my favorite groupings of the evening was dubbed “The Rat Pack”. Kevin Covais, Josh Jordan, David Radford and William Makar were each impressive in their solo bit and charming doing background vocals. It was no surprise to find that all four will be staying for at least another day.
Derrell Brittenum was the only one from his group to do well and the judges put him through to the next round of competition. Those words were music to every set of ears that came before him but wait, this IS Terrell Brittenum’s twin brother we’re discussing so surely he needed to comment. Apparently, Derrell was under the impression that his twin had been cut earlier in the day so he began spewing this pile of something that began with, “My spirit has been broken” and ended with him dropping out of the competition. Poor dude went backstage only to be told by his brother that he had made a colossal faux pas! Oh the drama of these two. They are worse than any woman I have ever met. Seriously. After apologizing, explaining, trying to defend himself only to be shut up repeatedly, Derrell was told he would learn his fate in thirty minutes. The judges decided to allow the brothers to stick around for another day in spite of their “hissy attitude”. Oh, yay.
AI did one of those show-lots-of-people-singing-the-same-song moments and when the song ended, out of six performers Mandisa Hundley, Brooke Barretsmith, and a little girl named Sarah were left still in the race.
That was proceeded by a fun segment of nervous singers ad libbing lyrics to “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch”. Just in case you might not catch the words actually sung, they appeared across the screen. I was really disappointed that a little red bouncing ball didn’t appear over each word as it was sung. Lots of mention of “lips” and “tongues” but my personal favorite was the poor woman that sang “beat my bare behind” rather than, “tearin’ up my heart”. Nearly lost my drink on that one.
An entire group of women, Celeste Scalone, Shontai Ski, Tyra Juliette Schwartz, and Nicole Turk advanced as did Brenna Gethers’ group. Somehow she, Marcy Smith, and Nick Whitten put their obvious differences aside and did well together when it counted.
The last group consisted of the three cowboys — Garet Layne Johnson, Matthew Bickstein, and Michael Evans. Who could resist the temptation to do a fluff piece on them? Not AI that’s for sure. We viewers were treated to a trailer of sorts for the movie Broke-Note Mountain – Love Is Tone Deaf. Was it funny? Sort of, at least until you actually saw these cowboys sing together. Then you realized it was no joke. They were that awful and all three got the boot.
What follows the group performances you ask? A day of singing solo acapella before the judges. After everyone gave it their best shot the judges were left to make another round of cuts. Simon suggested four piles, “Why don’t we have yes, no, maybe, and just weird?” The judges sorted polaroids and pondered their notes until finally everyone was sent to one of four different rooms. The entire first room was sent home and the rest survived another cut.
Tomorrow night, a cast of 44 will be sliced down to 24 (12 of each gender) in a brutal moment of truth while standing alone before the judges. Both of the Brittenum brothers will be there so I’ll have my closed captioning at the ready!