By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes
You know group day of Hollywood Week must be so incredibly stressful for the ‘Idol’ contestants because it’s downright stressful to watch. The contestants bicker, they scheme, they stay up until all hours of the night practicing and stressing, and then the mighty do sometimes fall. I hate group day because it might be too stressful for this early in the competition, but I love it for the same reason--this is the chance to separate the serious contenders from the people who’ve made it through thus far by the mercy of the judges.
To recap for the new "Idol" fans--on group day, the contestants need to form a group of at least three people, choose a song from a list of 20, choreograph a routine and perform it the next morning in front of the judges. This year the competition got a bit more interesting and frantic when it was announced that the group must consist of players from both days of the previous Hollywood round.
It was in these early moments that I became ridiculously sick of Tiffany Rios, the Snooki wannabe from New Jersey. After all her disparaging comments directed toward the other contestants, no one wanted anything to do with her. She wound up performing terribly and getting sent home, which made the build up feel so anticlimactic.
Some not surprising stand-outs--Brett Lowenstein, the kid with a sensitive soul and a mess of curly fiery red hair, was impressive – both in terms of personality and in singing. Robbie Rosen sounded ridiculously wonderful in his group. Lauren Alayna was incredible and had fun on stage with Steven Tyler, and Randy simply repeated “Top 12” as soon as she left the stage. James Durbin had the sense to sing with a group who sang a Queen song, which is totally perfect for his voice, and he completely nailed it. More early favorites of mine, Casey Adams and Julie Zorilla, who sang in the same group, made it through.
Despite getting thrown out of his original group and not knowing the words to “Mercy,” Jacee Badeaux sounded good. Seeing him progress to the next round was a real tear-jerker of a moment. Maybe in a couple of months this statement will come back to haunt me, but I really don’t think Jacee will make it very far in this competition.
Despite being so likable and talented, I don’t think Jacee is a typical American Idol contestant. Maybe that’s a good thing – “typical” ‘Idol’ contestants haven’t been too successful lately, and child phenoms with angelic voices like Greyson Chance have become ubiquitous. My main issue with Jacee is that his pop music knowledge is totally limited, and I think in a competition to become a commercially viable pop star, that will eventually catch up with him and be detrimental.
I liked seeing contestants that I didn’t remember, like Pia Toscano, Colton Dixon, and Jacob Lusk do really well. I’m excited to hear each of them perform without groups on Thursday night to see how they do individually.
The performance by The Minors, a group of 15- and 16-year-old contestants and their ever-present mom choreographers, was the veritable high point of the evening. Their harmonies were flawless and every one of them sounded incredible. The best part--the kids were so incredibly down to earth. They looked at this as the coolest experience of their lives, and knew that if it didn’t work out, they’re still young. I don’t want to discredit their talent, but their positive, healthy attitude must’ve been a huge help to them. There didn’t seem to be any pressure with these kids.
Unfortunately, incredible pressure does hurt sometimes. Early favorite Paris Tassin was sent home, after a lackluster performance with a terrible group arrangement. As good as she has consistently been, her elimination proves that you always need to be as good as you’ve been, because a really bad performance cannot be overlooked anymore.