Hollywood week, as Ryan Seacrest noted at the start of the episode, is an "emotional roller coaster." American Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban now expect everyone's best, even if that means performances that aren't technically perfect. We moved through the final solo performances into the much more exciting group displays. Contestants were forced to work out a song with others and stand out while putting together a cohesive performance. Sounds easy enough, right?
The ep kicked off on the other end of the cliffhanger. Gabby Zonneveld was hit by the surrealism of the situation and had to gather herself. She was given another chance, came back full force and survived, which is good for her and upsetting for others. Andrew Annello's swagger got him in trouble and he was the only one from his group to be dismissed. Maddie Walker and Alexis Gomez both moved on with otherwise forgettable performances.
Cody Fry, a seasoned veteran, took down Jeff Buckley's "Lilac Wine." So far he's opted for soft tunes, and while he has an enchanting voice, we need to hear something loud and less coffee house-y. Remember how everyone raved about Jason Castro after his "Hallelujah" cover? It wasn't enough to win Season Seven. But you can be sure to see Fry in the Top 24 if he can bring some meat to the table.
Shi Scott did another Amy Winehouse impersonation, but it was enough for her to move on to the group round. Clark Beckham performed a controlled version of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" while "the boy next door," 15-year-old Daniel Seavey, wooed J.Lo with his second audition.
Qaasim Middleton stepped up with his memorable stage presence. He was singing for Jax, who made it known that she was "into" him. With both singers moving on, there's a possible romance on the horizon.
There was a lengthy section of contestants who didn't make it and had the judges second guessing their decisions. This was reassuring because typically you watch Idol and wonder if anyone really gets eliminated in these rounds. The favorites from past episodes generally advance, so seeing some people leave Hollywood was actually a nice change of pace.
The singers had to form groups of four to pull all-nighters and rehearse to put together a winning performance. Some were able to make it work and get a decent night sleep. Others weren't as lucky.
- The Double Stuff kicked things off strong. There were maybe too many runs and extras, but J. None and Beckham stuck out the most. All four advanced, and rightfully so, despite being somewhat forgettable.
- Shiva Squared was packed with talent. Andrew Bloom, Shi Scott, Adam Ezegelian and Big Sexy worked well together. Ezegelian and Big Sexy really shined while Scott was, yet again, doing her best Winehouse. That's bound to get on Connick's nerves. Unfortunately for Bloom, he teamed up with singers with much better chops than his. His road ended.
- Dream Team featured Maddy Hudson, Tyanna Jones, Steffi Ledbetter and Reno Anoa'i. Ledbetter got the axe, but Anoa'i fumbled some lyrics and sounded off during his part. It may be difficult for him to perform without a guitar or ukulele in hand. This was easily the weakest group of the evening.
- Team Dimples - Jaq Mackenzie, Nick Fradiani, Hunter Larsen, Michael Simeon - killed it. J.Lo couldn't stop staring at her boy, Simeon, and that's probably because he was a standout. Larsen is another contender who will make it to the Top 24.
- Sal's Gals (great name) were unable to perform due to one singer's inability to stay conscious. You know what that means...#ToBeContinued.
The groups did surprisingly well tonight, and it was nice to see Ezegelian sing with some authority.