The promos for last night's American Idol had promised drama, and the show did not disappoint. The contestants met their second challenge, performing as a group. The 104 contestants who had survived Round One were told to form groups, select a song, and prepare a group performance. As Idol fans know, this sort of ability is important to the show, where the finalists perform weekly group songs.
By 9:30 a.m., when most had already formed teams, some were still wondering around. Megan Corkrey jumped in with a group that was already formed and immediately seemed at home.
Tatiana Del Toro, she of the annoying laugh and odd fashion sense, also found a group late, immediately attempting to take the reins, over the objections of her group partners.
By 11:15, most groups had picked their songs and were practicing their songs and their moves. But hippie chick Rose Flack was not as happy with her group, Team Diva, which featured Katrina "Bikini Girl" Darrell. Rose complained to the camera that some of her group members seemed to think "the contest is about being cute."
Meanwhile, best friends Danny Gokey and Jamar Rogers rehearsed in the hotel kitchen with their group, working well together.
Tatiana had a meltdown, complaining that her team would throw her under the bus. "You don't know what I went through to be here," she wailed. (She was right in believing they didn't like her: one of her group members compared her to Satan.) Taking what she thought was a safer route, she asked to join another group. Kristen McNamara immediately said yes, but fellow group members Nancy Wilson and Nate Marshall were not happy about the late addition. "She had her chance with her group," Nate said. (See the drama.)
By 1 a.m., some were heading to bed while others were still practicing. Tatiana had second thoughts about her second group and tried to connect with her original group, asking them to guarantee that they could be the best group. This didn't sit well with Nancy Wilson, who'd been reluctant to let Tatiana join their group to begin with.
Tatiana's original group, however, still didn't know what they wanted to do with choreography. Tatiana, meanwhile, kept blowing people kisses and acting paranoid and strange. One of her teammate told the camera, "The girl is psycho."
Kristen, Nancy and Nate, who had dubbed themselves Team Compromise, were far from living up to their name, fighting amongst themselves over the fact that Kristen insisted she needed a break. Nancy berated her for resting, making her cry.
Meanwhile on Team Diva, Katrina had decided to go to bed, despite the fact that the group wasn't ready for tomorrow. Her group was frustrated, not knowing if Katrina was even going to perform the next day.
Back downstairs, Team Compromise was falling apart, with Nancy still upset at Kristen and Nate reduced to tears about his inability to get them to talk civilly and practice, saying, "You both can't get over each other to realize that it's not just your dream at stake." (See the drama.)
By 7 a.m., many groups had gone with very little sleep as they put on their finishing touches. The Divas still didn't know what was happening with Katrina, and they headed to her room to see if she was ready to work. She told them she wasn't feeling good and didn't want to see anybody.
Team Compromise, still fighting, weren't even practicing together, expending most of their energy on drama.
When Katrina's group mates tried to get her out of bed, she refused, so they left to rehearse without her, believing she had quit.
Action Squad, featuring punk rocker Emily Wynne-Hughes was also having some problems with their routine, but by midmorning, most groups were starting to come together. Even Tatiana's group was feeling confident.
Finally, hours after telling them she was quitting, Katrina returned, met with eye rolls and resignation from her group mates. Rose Flack was the most unhappy about Katrina's return, predicting the group would fall apart. (See the drama.)
As the Group Round began, judge Simon Cowell made an announcement: forget the words, you're out. This was probably the last straw for some contestants' nerves as the performances would show.
First to perform were the group called White Chocolate, featuring India Morrison, Justin Williams, Kris Allen, and Matt Giraud. They performed a really tight version of "I Want You Back," incorporating India rapping at the end, along with some background boom boxing. They all made it through to the next round.
Not so lucky were Maryn Aroff, Austin Sisneros,. J.B. Ahfua, Shelby Swartwood, and Julissa Veloz, several of whom forgot the words to their uneven performance of "Get Ready." Simon called it an absolute total mess. The guys made it through, but the girls were sent home.
Next was the Action Squad, featuring Emily Wynne-Hughes, Alex Wagner-Trugman, Ryan Pinkston, and Anne Marie Boskovich. But they had probably put their emphasis too much on their choreography, as their harmonies were weak in their performance of "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," not to mention some forgotten words. The judges said it was the end of the line for Ryan and Emily, but Alex and Anne Marie moved on. A poor loser, Ryan told the camera he felt "manipulated and assaulted." He claimed he'd seen a side of Paula he didn't know was there, and he'd seen "an evil" in her eyes.
The Rainbow Coalition, a.k.a Danny Gokey, Jamar Rogers, Taylor Viaifanua, and Moorea Masa (who wasn't identified on-screen) went a capella for their rendition of Queen's "Somebody to Love." The had some very good harmonies and also demonstrated strong solos. Simon called it a very, very good performance. He decided to mess with their heads, though, having Danny step forward, and after a pause, telling him he was moving forward and that the other three were joining him.
Another very strong group consisted of Jeremy Michael Starver, Adam Lambert, Matt Breitzke, and Jesse Langseth, who did a bluesy version of "Some Kind of Wonderful." The judged liked it, putting them all through to the next round.
Then it was performance time for Team Diva. Would their bickering cost them a chance to go on? Lauren Barnes, Katrina Darrell, Rose Flack, Jasmine Murray performed a weak version of Duffy's "Mercy," and perhaps distracted by all the drama, Rose forgot the words, completely falling apart. The group lacked cohesion, with Simon positing, "I guarantee you lot did not work together last night." He had Lauren, Katrina, and Rose step forward, cutting all of them. Jasmine, who had somehow managed to stay composed despite the distractions, was the only one staying. While the other group members bid each other tearful good-byes, Katrina pranced off, still posing for the camera.
The day was hard for more than just Team Diva. David Osmond was also cut, but at least he has family's name to fall back on as he strives to make it in the music industry.
Tatiana's group hoped to succeed with their halfway decent rendition of "I Want You Back." Muna Hiluf, Tatiana, Kaylan Loyd (not credited on-screen), and Eloni Yawn (not credited on-screen) performed and then waited for the decision. Somewhat surprisingly, the judged put them all through. Ecstatic, Tatiana gushed in the halfway, giving a big speech about how happy she was, thanking everyone, down to the sound techs, as if she'd won a prestigious award.
The last group featured on the show was Team Compromise, who also performed Duffy's "Mercy," falling apart on-stage. Of the three, Nancy Wilson did the worst, even forgetting the words. The judges announced that Nathaniel and Kristin would be moving on, while Nancy cut. After hearing the news, Nancy refused their hugs and stomped off.
At the end of the day, 75 had made it through to the final round. The previews showed that some people who have not been featured on camera during this episode are still in the running, including Nick "Norman Gentle" Mitchell and blind piano player Scott McIntyre. Next week will be Round Three, a solo performance that is also their last chance to impress the judges and make it to the semifinals.
If you can't play nice, you may not get to play at all.