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'American Idol' Season 14 Recap & Review: Final Group Round Brings Lots of Drama, Some OK Singing

by Carolyn Menyes   Feb 11, 2015 21:49 PM EST

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The group round of American Idol is never particularly impressive. How can you truly stand out when you're also trying to blend in with three or four other singers? It's certainly a tall order, bringing in lots of drama. And season 14's Hollywood round was no different.

Tonight (Feb. 11), the remaining contestants once again reconvened at the Orpheum in Los Angeles for some satisfactory performances and sleepless nights.

Season 14 marks the second year with a new production team, which led to some funky cuts. Namely, in about half the groups only three of the four singers were actually named, which obviously does not bode well for that fourth person's odds on American Idol or in the music industry in general.

So, despite mostly wavering performances and the drama of fainting, late nights, a guy who's trying to get laid instead of getting through to the top 24 and b*tchy women, what are we left with? The five best performances of the night.

5. I wouldn't even mention "LKYCO" if it weren't for the amount of screentime these kids have gotten. Trevor Douglas and Daniel Seavey have gotten a lot of attention, and while neither of them were particularly great here, they were carried well by Savion Wright and Qaasim Middleton. On One Direction's "Story of My Life," Seavey's youth and vocal weaknesses were pretty clear, but the show loves him and are trying to make him this year's Sam Woolf, so expect this pint-sized piece in the top 24.

4. Going to college together may help your odds of showing well on American Idol as "We Are Boulevard" proved from Bellmont. This foursome (only three of whom get names) took Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" and made it perfectly tender, each showing off their solos (except the girl who doesn't get any screentime or solo time). Piper Jones and Rayvon Owen really owned it, showing their ranges insanely well. And they all made it through.

3. It's always nice when a group truly goes a cappella, which "JKL" did for a doo-wop take on Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass." Lovey James, Jess Lamb, Kory Wheeler and Karla Davis nailed the swagger and the harmonies, but the group portions were better than the solo turns. James proved herself valuable in her audition and carried that through here, but everyone else solo was more or less fine. They could move on if the judges were feeling generous or they could all get the book. It was time out for Wheeler and Davis, and somehow the judges let Lamb through. I don't know how they make these decisions.

2. "Mark Andrew's Crew" was named after its most visible member (and team captain), but all four of their voices on "With a Little Help from My Friends" blended together perfectly. Mark Andrew and Katherine Winston were far and away the standouts, but Alex Shier held his own too. And, though she was solid, a lack of solo power gave Vanessa Andrea the boot back home. Though, we're not so sure those perfect choruses would've worked as well without her. Every group needs its Lance Bass, it's just you never wanna be that guy on a competition show.

1. The best group of the night by far was the final performers, "Violet Vixens," who tackled the Queen classic "Somebody to Love." Though Joey Cook flubbed the lyrics in her solo verse at the top of the track, she recovered well with her quirkiness and it was noticeable but she didn't let it flub up her flow. Each of these four girls, Cook, Naomi Tatsuoka, Shannon Berthiaue and Krista Bettevy, had a vintage, Zooey Deschanel-like quality to her voice, and it made for smooth, seamless transitions and some truly soulful harmonies. They all made it though to the final round, and rightly so.

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