Some of the contestants thought they'd be smart and get ahead of the game this year, with contestants who had survived the cut on day one teaming up, selecting songs, and beginning to rehearse. However, they had a wrench thrown in the works when they were informed that all groups had to have a combination of day one and day two members.
Of course, this immediately posed problems, like it did for Brett Loewenstern's group, the Sugar Mamas, which was completely made up of day one people. They managed to entice Jessica Yantz to join them and thought they were set.
Tiffany Rios, the long-lost Jersey Shore cast member, had difficulty finding a group because she had alienated people with her on-stage declaration in round one that she was tired of watching people try to do what she knew she could do. But despite appeals to Scott McCreary and others, she had no luck finding someone to sing with her, until she lured Jessica Yantz away from the Sugar Mamas with flattery. They then tried to recruit Scott McCreary, but he moved on and found another group, with difficulty. He had to audition for other groups, a couple of whom turned him down, probably because of his deep country voice.
Jordan Dorsey, for example, said no to Scott and also turned down a couple of other people who wanted to join his group.
Tiffany and Jessica, still only a duo, tried to find one more group member with no luck and finally get permission from the producers to sing as a duo.
Finally, Scott joined the Guaps, Clint Gamboa's group, which also contained Jacee Badeux. Clint was unsure about the extra members, but a fellow group member said they'd make it work.
The groups spread out all over the space, including in parking garages and bathrooms, to rehearse.
A group of 15- and 16-year-olds called The Minors felt they had an advantage because young people "don't stress as much." They also had support from their moms, who had joined them and were giving input on their choreography. The Deep V's, James Durbin's group, saw The Minors as direct competition, since they were both doing the Queen song "Somebody to Love." Durbin also expressed irritation that the group was being coached by "stage moms."
Meanwhile, one planned group was down a member, since Nick Fink had been cut in round one. His girlfriend, Jacqueline Dunford, was teamed up with Chelsee Oaks and Rob Bolin, the ex-couple who had auditioned together. But the two women were at odds with Rob, who was no longer on speaking terms with Chelsee.
The scattered Ashley Sullivan, singing with a group called The Hits, was very tired and decided she wanted to go home. She left the rehearsal to call her boyfriend.
Another group was also having problems. Clint was beginning to have mixed emotions about letting Jacee join, unhappy with his performance. At his insistence, the group let Jacee go. Jacee was crying but managed to hold it together enough to try to find another group... at 1 a.m. His mom advised him, "Above all, have fun." About getting cut from the group, she said, "It just wasn't meant to be."
Jacee wasn't the only one moving to another group. Jordan Dorsey had decided he was unsure about the song his group had chosen. A fellow group member tried to urge him to stay. Despite the fact that he had been instrumental in forming group, he moved into another group, Four Plus One.
After talking to her boyfriend, Ashley Sullivan decided to stay. The Hits welcomed her back, even though they'd been rehearsing for hours without her.
Since the Sugar Mamas still didn't have a day two person, Brett Loewenstern invited Jacee Badeaux into their group. He was grateful for the opportunity, even though he didn't know the song they were preparing, "Mercy."
In their rehearsal, Three's Company had been running into problems with choreography (mainly with Rob). He told the camera, "I don't dance with people. I don't perform with people. I'm a musician." What? Maybe he meant he was sick of performing with Chelsee. He also had been having trouble learning the lyrics.
After a few hours of sleep, the 39 groups began their performances. Beforehand, the judges gave them a little advice. Steven Tyler told them to just put it all out there: “Use your illusion, let’s have at it, baby!” Jennifer Lopez told them not to get hung up on the groups, because they were being judged individually. Veteran judge Randy Jackson urged them not to forget the words.
First up were three girls from New York, Pia Toscano, Alessandra Guercio and Brielle Von Hugel, who sang "Grenade." Their dancing was weak, but they sounded very pop-ish and had definitely been working on it. Of the three, Brielle was the standout in the group. Steven told them, "You guys slammed it." Randy praised their harmonies. They were all put through to the next round. [Pia, Alessandro and Brielle's performance]
Then was the group Four Plus One, the group that Jordan Dorsey had joined after abandoning his original group. Also in the group was teen singer Robbie Rosen and three others whose names were not shown. They sang "I Want You Back." They sang individually and then did some harmonizing at the very end. J. Lo told them, "Everybody came up. All you guys are going through to the next round." Jordan told the camera he'd made the right decision joining this group. [Four Plus One's performance]
Next was 440, consisting of Adrian Michael, Lauren Turner, and two other members who weren't featured in the edit and weren't subtitled either. They did the Cee Lo song, "Forget You." Adrian, rocking an argyle sweater, had a good voice for the song. Lauren Turner, 24, was bluesy and got into it, wearing a striped shirt with a vest. J. Lo asked first Lauren to come forward, then Adrian, and finally the other two, Erica and Shane. They were all through. [440's performance]
Tiffany Rios was looking forward to proving herself in her duo, Rebel Star, with Jessica Yantz, where they sang "Irreplaceable." They started on the ground and awkwardly stood up while singing. The problem, though, wasn't choreography or even the fact that Tiffany wore leopard short-shorts. It was her singing, which was rougher than I'd ever heard from her. Ouch. Jessica Yantz was much better, but she was quieter and easy to overlook. And wearing a leopard vest. Randy stopped them and asked them what happened; how'd they end up as a duo? Tiffany told him, "This angel was in a group already of five." Jessica added, "I wasn't going to let her be by herself." Sadly for her, she should have. Randy told them, "It was really bad. End of the line." Tiffany tried to argue, but Jessica just said thank you and walked quietly off. Wow. [Rebel Star's performance]
When it came time for Spanglish to perform, one of their members was missing. The cameraman found Kevin Campos in his room and told him he had to get ready fast. While they were waiting, Steven jammed out on the drums to entertain people. Spanglish, consisting of Jovanny Baretto, Kevin, Jorge Gabriele, and Karen Rodriguez, sang "Just the Way You Are." The harmonies were off, and Jorge mumbled the words. To make things worse for them, Steven messed up his delivery of the results. He said, "Jorge, you didn't nail it. Karen, it's good. Jovanny, rough in the beginning. Congratulations to you three." Everyone was confused, and J. Lo said something to Steven. He backtracked: "Jovanny and Karen step forward. You're coming through. The other two got to go home." [Spanglish's performance]
A group of girls asked Steven to come up and sit in a chair on stage. He asked, "What's going to happen?" Lauren Alaina told him they were going to sing to him. Don't forget, this is the same girl who forced Steven to sing an Aerosmith song with her at her audition. She tried to sing sexy to him, and the other girls followed suit. He seemed a little guarded during their rendition of "Some Kind of Wonderful." Of course, he couldn't help singing along at the end, especially when they held out a microphone for him. J. Lo called it a "very cute original idea, and that makes it kind of hard." Lauren was the only one going through. For the rest, it was the end of the line. I'm not sure why, though, because they sounded as strong as her. [Lauren's group performance]
The Nashville Stars, Matt Dillard's group, had quit rehearsing at 2 a.m. while other groups had continued to work. Colton Dixon was also in the group, along with some others who were unnamed. They sang "Just the Way You Are," with some very rough vocals from straw-cowboy-hat-wearing Matt. He also forgot the lyrics. In addition, the background harmonies were weak. Colton was not much better. Steven said, "Colton, you came out of the box and hit it pretty hard. Matt, wasn't your best performance," noting he was off melody. He had Colton step forward and told him he was in. "Sorry, the rest of you have to go home." [Nashville Stars' performance]
Then we saw a montage of some other weak performances, including Shannon Livewell, Briana Tyson, Janelle Arthur, Alyson Jados, and Caitlin Koch. All of them were sent home, despite Caitlin's arguing for another chance. Also going home was Paris Tassin, who had touched J. Lo with her moving back story of her daughter, born with encephalitis. Other cuts included Emily Ann Reed, Adrienne Beasley, Courtney Penry and Aaron Gutierrez, whose brother, Mark, will be continuing. This was followed with a montage of people crying and leaving.
Before they performed, Randy gave advice to the Hits. "You're in a group, but it's about your individuality and about you shining, whether you're in the group or not." They seemed to know what they were doing, though, as they starting off "Hit Em Up Style" with some nice harmony. The Hits included Keeira Lyn Ford, Ashley Sullivan, Ashthon Jones, and a fourth, unnamed, member. They threw money at the end. Randy told Ashley that "it was a little pitchy here and there, but all in all, you held it together, and I must say, you guys were the best harmonized group I've seen." They were all going through. [The Hits' performance]
Then it was time for the Queen faceoff, starting with the Deep V's. James Durbin started the song, "Somebody to Love," a little rough. His group mates Emma Henry, Danny Pate, Caleb Johnson, and John Jordan, were also rough. James kind of lost it at the end but reached to a really high note in an effort to save his performance, which made me type, "I don't think so." J. Lo thought it was a strong song with some strong voices, but "the harmonies were almost painful." She said it was like "a bad Glee audition." Caleb and James were told they were the only two staying. [Deep V's performance]
The moms with the Minors thought all of the Deep V's should have all been cut. Their children's group was much stronger, they asserted.
The Minors got a chance to prove their moms right. Keonna Evans, Jalen Harris, Sarina-Joi Crowe, Felix Ramsey, and Deandre Brackensick did much better with their rendition of "Somebody to Love," even throwing in some sweet harmony at the end. J. Lo declared, "They just gave the performance of their life." Steven raved,"That was as good as it gets. Freddie Mercury is up there smiling down on you guys." J. Lo told them, "You're all through." The moms hugged them joyfully. [The Minors' performance]
The next group, consisting of Steven Clawson, Corey Levoy, Hollie Cavanagh and some unnamed contestants, sang "Grenade," with Steven shamelessly reading lyrics off his hand. Corey and Hollie were told they were going through, although I'm not sure why Corey was spared, since he kept looking backwards and was pitchy. Corey looked a bit distressed and said, "Can I ask a question?" Randy put it in perspective: "You want to ask a question why you're staying?" Corey thought better of it and left. [Steven, Corey and Hollie's performance]
Then were the Night Owls, Julie Zorrilla, Casey Abrams, Dan Noguchi, Lara Johnston, and Melissa Lucas. They'd decided to go a capella with "Get Ready," and they did a decent job with it, but some of the harmonies were rough. The judges also liked Julie's dress, a metallic party dress a lot like the one she wore to audition. Afterward, J. Lo had Julie and Casey step forward. They were through. The rest were cut. [The Night Owls' performance]
Another a capella group, Ebony and Ivory, included Da'Quela Page, Matthew Nuss, Naima Adedapo, and Jacob Lusk. They also did "Get Ready," with a small change: slowing it down and having Jacob get really funky near the end. Steven thought it showed "style and creativity" and liked "the way you went off the beaten path." He told them, "You are all going through." [Ebony and Ivory's performance]
Four Non-blondes and That Guy included Chris Medina, Caleb Hawley, Devyn Rush, Chris Medina, and Carson Higgins. They did "Forget You" and really got into it, especially Carson Higgins, who made use of his acting skills to really sell it. Randy told Devyn she was "kind of wild and screamy." To Carson, he said, "It was wild, but you were definitely entertaining." It was the end of the line for Devyn. Everyone else was through. Devyn, in tears, said, "I don't deserve to go." She wanted to figure out how to get back in, but it was not to be. [Four Non-Blondes and That Guy]
We saw some brief glimpses of other contestants, with Steven calling one girl "Elaine from Seinfeld" because of her dark curly hair, and telling John Wayne Schultz, "You rode your white horse right into the middle of the Apollo Theater."
Jacee Badeux was nervous before his performance with the renamed Sugar Mama and the Babies. The group also included Denise Jackson, Stevie Cain, Natalie Hanson and Brett Loewenstern. Their rendition of "Mercy" was very fun, and their harmonies were good. Jacee improvised his own thing at the end of his line: "But I won't be going home... hopefully." Randy said that Jacee looked a little lost, and Jacee told him that he got into the group late. His group told him about the fact that he'd been cut from his previous group. Randy messed with them in the results, first calling every other member of the group forward and finally calling Jacee. They all made it. Jacee was very relieved, and the audience erupted with applause. I got a little choked up at home; love that kid! [Sugar Mama and the Babies' performance]
When The Guaps took the stage, the judges scolded them for ditching Jacee. Scott McCreery apologized for not standing up for him. The group, consisting of Scott, Monique De Los Santos, Frances Coontz, and Clint Jun Gamboa, gave a very powerful performance of "Get Ready." Steven told Frances, "You sang like a bird." He told everyone but Clint to step forward, saying, "The three of you... plus Clint, congratulations." Afterward, in tears, Scott, said he felt really bad about "The whole Jacee thing." Poor guy. I think it's pretty clear it wasn't his fault. [The Guaps' performance]
The final group of the day was Three's Company: Jacqueline Dunford, Chelsee Oaks, and Rob Bolin, who sang "Forget You." Jacqueline actually said the "S" word, and her melody is off. But Rob was worse; he completely self-destructed. Not only did he turn his back on the audience, but then he sang, "I don't know these words. I'm so tired. I'm so tired." Steven asked him, "Rob, was this your best performance?" Rob admitted it wasn't. Rob was told to step forward. "Sorry to say you're going home. The two ladies are in." (Really? Both of them?) Chelsee asserted that she and Rob wouldn't getting back together, despite Jacqueline joking that they still would. [Three's Company's performance]
Tonight, solo performances from the final 100. Only half will survive. Who will make the cut?
Finding a group can be as harsh as finding a lunch table in junior high.