‘American Idol’: Group Auditions, Lyric Amnesia & Rising To The Occasion

The stresses of the Hollywood rounds didn’t let up with the tense group performances American Idol contestants must endure in order to make it to the finals. Hollywood Week (Part 3) became a test not only of talent, but endurance, as many of the singers began to buckle under the pressure of making it to the next round. Some fainted, some forgot lyrics and some succumbed to the flu. Jump below to see who wowed the judges and who fell apart.

Contestants Reed Grimm, Creighton Fraker, Aaron Marcellus, Jen Hirsh and Nick Boddington — better known as Groove Sauce — really bring it when they hit the stage.  From the background vocals to each contestant’s solo vocals, the group manages to impress, displaying not only their individual talents but the fact that they can work as a group — which was the entire point of this week’s exercise. Their rendition of “Hold On, I’m Comin’” earns all five members a place in the next round.

“Groove Sauce” performing “Hold On, I’m Comin’”

Unfortunately, not all the groups were as prepared — or as lucky. The Bettys, composed of Jennifer Malsch, Cherie Tucker, Cari Quoyeser, Gabrielle Cavassa and Brianna Bell, attempts to sing Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style”, but the entire performance is botched. The group suffers from sleep deprivation, something quite evident during their performance. The judges only push Jennifer Malsch and Cari Quoyeser to the next round.

The Bettys weren’t the only group to get swept up in the chaos of Hollywood Week, many were unable to avoid the treachery of illness and exhaustion sweeping through the groups.  For some it was purely the strain of getting sick. But for others, mounting nerves cause them to forget their lyrics entirely.  In the end these mistakes send many hopefuls home, including Symone Black, who passed out and fell off stage last week.

Thankfully Ariel Sprague, Eben Franckenwitz, Gabi Carrubba,  David Leathers Jr. and Jeremy Rosado of the Hollywood Five have the guidance of their parents to help overcome these problems. They impress the judges with their performance of Duffy’s “Mercy.”  Other contestants may have dismissed these rising stars due to their age, but overall, their performance stands out because of their professionalism, talent and hard work.

Hollywood Five performing “Mercy”

The final group has the most internal strife.  Heejun Han, Richie Law, Phillip Phillips and Jairon Jackson —  better known as M.I.T. — spends their entire practice night arguing. The group literally seems to be imploding until the moment they take the stage. But despite this, the guys brush off their disagreements and knock  the judges out with their version of James Morrison’s “Broken Strings”. Thus they earn the chance to perform once more in Hollywood.

M.I.T. performing “Broken Strings”

The contestants lucky enough to make it through the group sessions return the next day to perform with the Idol house band.  The difference this time is that they won’t be told if they make it to the next round until the end of the day, causing tension up until the final moments that the results are announced.

As expected, mediocre performances plague the hopeful crooners, but those who rise to the occasion really shine on stage —  including Louisiana native Joshua Ledet who kicks off the day of solo performances with a pitch-perfect interpretation of “Jar Of Hearts” by Christina Perri.

Joshua Ledet performing “Jar Of Hearts”

New father Adam Brock had a lot riding on his performance. After spending the morning on stage jamming with Steven and Randy, the 27-year-old is reinvigorated when he performs “Georgia On My Mind”. (Comically, he tells the judges that it’s time for a little “White Chocolate.”)  We’ll be perfectly honest — we have no idea what that means, but Brock really rocks it on stage. So if white chocolate means killing an exceptionally difficult song, then keep the white chocolate coming!

The real peak moment at the Hollywood rounds takes place when Reed Grimm realizes that he has to perform with the band, despite planning to sing an a cappella version of Ray Charles’s “Georgia on My Mind”.  After a teary call to his mother, Reed realizes he should take the reigns on stage by playing drums with the band. Reed’s endearing stage presence, smokey vocals and obvious musical talent cause him to him emerge as the contestant to keep a constant eye on.

Reed Grimm performing “Georgia On My Mind”

Once the solo performances are completed, it’s time for Randy, Jennifer and Steven to deliberate over who would make it to Las Vegas and who will be sent packing. Contestants are split up into four groups and placed in different rooms to await their results.

Room 1, which includes Adam Brock and Joshua Ledet, is the first to hear they’ve made it to the next round, and their cries of joy do not go unnoticed by the other rooms, who immediately become nervous that their time has come to an end. When Rooms 2 and 4 are also congratulated by the judges on making it to the next round, it becomes clear that the luck for the contestants housed in Room 3 has just run out.

Did the judges make the right choice and send your favorite contestant to Las Vegas? Sound off in the comments, or on Twitter and Facebook.

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