‘American Idol’: Not Everyone’s A Winner At Las Vegas Group Auditions

Last night the American Idol Top 70 voyaged from the stresses of Hollywood to the glitz of Sin City where they performed songs from the ’50s & ’60s at Cirque du Soleil’s Viva ELVIS stage. Once again, the contestants were tested in groups on the merit of their vocals — and their ability to not pass out on stage. But this time around the judges looked for the entire package, including choreography, costumes and each group’s ability to perform as a cohesive unit. Jump below to see who stole the spotlight in Las Vegas and who finally fizzled out.

From the get-go it seemed like producers wanted the contestants to know that Las Vegas is a gamble: Do your best and impress the judges, but even that won’t guarantee you’ll make it to the Top 40. The groups were then reformed and fine-tuned, trading lost contestants for new partnerships, and with the help of the American Idol vocal coaches.

DAY 1 STANDOUT PERFORMANCES

Cari Quoyeser, Chase Likens, Skylar Laine & Colton Dixon kicked things off with the doo-wop ballad “Dedicated To The One I Love” made famous by The Shirelles. Chase, Skylar and Colton really hit all the marks in terms of perfect harmonies, but Cari seemed to be singing with an entirely different group. This wasn’t lost on the judges, who sent Cari packing.

Cari Quoyeser, Chase Likens, Skylar Laine & Colton Dixon – “Dedicated To The One I Love”

Reed Grimm, who’s quickly becoming this season’s darling, took a calculated risk and abandoned his Hollywood group “Groove Sauce” to team up with Elsie Testone, Haley Johnson & Eben Franckewitz to sing “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes.”  Reed might have an honest-to-goodness golden touch because the performance was as perfectly executed as by a live Las Vegas stage act. As it is, these contestants seem like they’re going to be the guys to beat in the weeks to come: Steven congratulates them on their performance, including the exceptional beat-boxing during the break down and even teases Eben about the lipstick kisses all over his face. They all make it to the next round.

Reed Grimm, Elise Testone, Haley Johnson & Eben Franckewitz- “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes”

Odd couple, Jermaine Jones & Richie Law came together out of desperation for a group of deep baritones. The smooth, smokey charm of their vocals worked perfectly together.  When they take the stage, the judges give a puzzled look, but their velvety rendition of “Make It Easy On Yourself” earns them both a spot in the next round. Richie’s insistence for excellence may help him make it to the Top 24, if only one of the other contestants doesn’t kill him first.

Portlanders Jessica Phillips, Britnee Kellogg & Courtney Williams are a natural team and the trio settles on The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hanging On.” The judges praise Britnee for her vocals and overall performance, while telling Courtney and Jessica they didn’t rise to the occasion.  Courtney defends her vocals, which is usually a terrible idea, but somehow it seems to work because she and Britnee hear that they’re making it to the next round while Jessica is sent packing.

DAY 2 STANDOUT PERFORMANCES

Jairon Jackson, Heejun Han & Phil Phillips regroup after eliminating cowboy Richie Law and adding Neco Starr to the mix, who’s strong vocals end up strengthening the group and propelling them to a new level. They perform “I Only Have Eyes For You” where their harmonies seduce the judges like they were teenage girls daydreaming about their crushes. All four guys advance to the next round.

Jairon Jackson, Heejun Han, Phil Phillips & Neco Starr – “I Only Have Eyes For You”

Creighton Fraker, Aaron Marcellus, Nick Boddington & Jen Hirsh (minus former group member, Reed Grimm) settle on “Sealed With A Kiss”, letting Jen once again steal the spotlight. That probably didn’t help out Nick, who wasn’t terrible, but the judges point out didn’t shine in any real way. This comes back to bite him in the butt later on, and Nick is eventually sent home.

Creighton Fraker, Aaron Marcellus, Nick Boddington & Jen Hirsh – “Sealed With A Kiss”

Still, no one can celebrate for long: Both days’ groups are brought back on stage for one last round of cuts. The judges look miserable and JLo can’t stop telling everyone how much she hates ruining dreams, but it’s the name of the game and they start handing out bad news like cards at a poker table.

FINAL ROUND OF CUTS INCLUDE: Gabi Carrubba, Schyler Dixon (Colton’s sister), Angie Ziederman, Candice Glover, Johnny Keyser (the judges have some explaining to do over this one), Jairon Jackson, and Britnee Kellogg. Of all the cuts, Schyler’s was probably the most dramatic because her brother literally crumbled at the sight of losing her.

Do you think the judges missed the mark when choosing who advances to the next round? Sound off in the comments, or on Twitter and Facebook.

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