Flashback to last week, when the remaining contestants learned that they would be going to Vegas -- Yay! -- to audition once again before the final cut -- Boo! Life is so unpredictable, but American Idol isn't. So you know that any second now Ryan Seacrest will say This is American Idol. Ryan? How can I tell that the show started? I'm so confused!
One of the most recognizable chords in music history, the first note of A Hard Day's Night, blares and it begins. The remaining contestants are on buses to Vegas, having picked a partner to perform with and a song to sing. No problem. The last time they all formed groups, that went really well for everyone!
Group disasters, part deux. There's more drama and tears than on any episode of The Bachelor. No one is happy, no one has a clue. And they have all of 24 hours to learn and nail a new song or take the bus back to wedding singerville.
Vocal coach = mean. Someone woke up on the wrong side of the Strip this morning! I didn't know that "scared straight" was a concept singing coaches used, I thought that was reserved for prison guards. Well, at least she has another career she can fall back on.
What is wrong with the current generation? They've never heard a Beatles song. The Beatles? Who? No, not The Who, The Beatles. The Fab Four. The boys from Liverpool. They who launched the British Invasion? Paul McCartney's first band? Anything?
And here is the knight in shining armor. Jimmy Iovine. He is a seriously intense looking dude. He drops the K bomb on the contestants -- he calls it karaoke. Ouchers. He is the expert on everything musical. He worked with John Lennon for heaven's sake. You do not want to disappoint him, and not just because he's the mentor for the entire season and his record label will sign the winner. He's also Italian!
James Durbin and Stefano Langone sing Get Back. They're fine, nothing special. Durbin screeches. Langone was passable, C+, no more. He is instantly forgettable. Sorry, I have high standards when it comes to the Beatles.
Pia Toscano and Karen Rodriguez are up next with Can’t Buy Me Love. Ryan used a big word. Those SAT prep books are working. Pia has a nice deep voice, Karen has an interesting tone to her voice. And they're both hot. I bet we'll be seeing more than them (I'm a psychic!).
God bless you Jimmy Iovine -- he warns the next trio not to oversing. But, they ignore him taking on The Long and Winding Road and molesting the hell out of it. It sorta works for Naima Adedapo, who sounds great. Haley Reinhart is good, if forgettable. But Jacob Lusk is almost a caricature of a Gospel singer. If he put any more unnecessary moves on that song, it would have to get a restraining order against him. Steven uses the phrase over-the-top, Randy says don't hold back, but they seem to think this is all positive. And somewhere, Jimmy Iovine is yelling at his TV.
Rachel Zevita nails Eleanor Rigby, almost making me forget David Cook's mesmerizing performance in Season 7. Jovany Barreto and Lauren Turner sing Let it Be, but they mostly focus on Turner's slow and breathy take on the already ponderous song.
Then comes the dueling pianists, Tim Halperin and Julie Zorilla, singing Something. To call this a highlight would be like calling Steven Tyler's mouth a tad wide. They are breathtakingly good. I could watch an entire show of just the two of them singing. They have leapfrogged over the competition, an odd choice of a visual since it was graceful and beautiful and not at all green.
Lakeisha Lewis, Tatynisa Wilson and Jerome Bell showed just how hard it is to harmonize as they botched I Saw Her Standing There. Lakeisha sounded off, Jerome has no depth to his vocals and Tatynisha was just a'ight. I agreed with JLo and thought it was a cheesy, off key performance.
Blackbird is a pretty song. Kendra Chantelle is pretty and can sing prettily. Paul McDonald has a weak, thin, reedy voice that for some reason Randy likes. I guess because it's quirky and different and breaks when he sings. I was not feeling it. Different does not always equal good, people!
They move quickly through three groups who all sounded great, including one with John Wayne Schulz and his unnamed partners doing a great job with A Little Help From My Friend and the resident evil guy Clint "Jacee go home" Gamboa singing Help!
Then we spend too much time with Ashley Sullivan who is going to get hitched in Vegas. How romantic. Oh, and she threatens to kill him in his sleep if he doesn't go through with it. Awww. That's so sweet!
Thia Megila and Melinda Ademi take on Here Comes the Sun and it sounded like a pageant number or a high school glee club (little g, not big G).
The newlywed Ashley is up next with fellow blonde Sophia Shorai taking on We Can Work it Out. I hate to admit it, but I really like the tone of Ashley's voice. But when they sing together, they sound really weird, like they were in a blender.
Denise Johnson, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alania have wrestled victory from the jaws of defeat with their inspired version of Hello Goodbye. Don't know about anyone else, but I'm loving this odd trio. It wasn't a singer's song seems to be the judges' complaint, but I thought they sounded a lot better than some of the groups who took on more "singable" songs. And that's a lot of sibilant sounds for one sentence!
Last group up is Robbie Rosen, Aaron Sanders and Jordan Dorsey singing Got to Get You into My Life. Robbie has been one of my favorites from day one and he didn't disappoint. He has a great voice, there's nothing fancy to say. The boy can sing! Aaron also impressed with his sweet, soulful vocals.
It's time now to winnow down from 61 to 40. The first group has two of my picks, Robbie and Lauren, so unless the judges are insane, this is the first safe group. Thia and Scotty move along as well. But surfer guy Carson Higgins is going. Noooo! Wait, there is balance in the world, because after that bit of bad news I hear some good. Molly deWolfe is gone! Yes!!!!
I don't like seeing the kids crying. It's sad. Except for Molly! Go back to D.C., no Hollywood for you.
Back to Hollywood we go and finally Ryan says those four magical words. All is right with the world again.
They bring in the contestants one by one to tell them their fate. For some it's great news. Clint "I don't want to play with Jacee" Gamboa moves on as does Naima Adedapo, Ashthon Jones, Paul McDonald and Haley Reinhart. For others, it's the proverbial end of the line. Hollie Cavanagh was good, but not quite ready. They said the same to Deandre Brackensick. We bid farewell to LaKeisha Lewis and Alex Ryan, then it was time for the saddest goodbye, to Chris Medina. He had the sad back story, but not the vocal chops.
Tomorrow night, we learn the identifies of the remaining members of the Top 24. A lot of popular contestants are still waiting to hear their fate -- Robbie Rosen, Lauren Alaina, Brett Lowenstern, Jacee Badeaux, Casey Abrams and Jovany Barreto among others. We'll find out soon.