Julie Zorrilla and Tim Halperin
We got to see more footage of the vocal coaches working with the hopefuls than we had previously seen. They, along with mentor Jimmy Iovine, were hard on the contestants. Lauren Alaina broke down under the pressure. "Vocal coach from hell" Peggi Blu screamed at one duo that included Thia Megia, "No, what is that? Sing, dammit." She begged them to prove they knew what they were doing, and she'd eat crow, happily. With salt.
Incredibly, some of the young contestants had never heard a Beatles song. Um... really? Not even on a commercial?
Jimmy counseled Lauren's group to choose another song other than "I Fell," because it wasn't going well.
He told another group that, "If you've seen it at a wedding, if you've seen it at a happy hour in a bar or you've seen it in karaoke, it's not what we're looking for." Heard that, Clint Jun Gamboa?
The contestants got a break, during which they watched the Cirque du Soleil performance of the Beatles inspired "LOVE."
The first duo, Stefano Langone and James Durbin, tried for a high-octane version of "Get Back." Stefano, clad in a charcoal shirt with black pinstripes and a charcoal suit vest, was just all right. James, in a red t-shirt with military stripes on the sleeves and a military style sleeveless black vest, a blue bandana wrapped around his forehead, did his rocker howl at the end. Judge Steven Tyler said, "I don't think I've heard two higher voices together before." He told James that he "went into the way-out-osphere" and "it was insane." Randy thought they had it together. [Stefano and James' performance]
Next up were high-school friends Pia Toscano, in a short black dress, with long sheer sleeves, and Karen Rodriguez, in a short gray dress and black bolo jacket. They did "Can't Buy Me Love" and were very upbeat and confident. Their vocals were rock solid. Judge Jennifer Lopez told them, "You guys get it. You know what it is to be a professional." Steven praised them for building the vocals: "You jumped the fence and ran off into the field." [Pia and Karen's performance]
The next group had been warned by Jimmy Iovine not to oversing. They had chosen "The Long and Winding Road," starting with Haley Reinhart, who chose to ignore the instructions about oversinging. She wore a gold halter top with black pants. Naima Adedapo, in a no-sleeved turtleneck gray dress with a red belt, belted it out but sounded great. Then, to take it over the top was Jacob Lusk, wearing a purple shirt with red tie. He was a little pitchy with lots of embellishments. There were some bad harmonies towards the end. J. Lo loved it, especially that the group made it their own. Steven thought it was over the top but called it beautiful. Randy Jackson, upon hearing that the group had been coached to sing it differently, told them, "When in doubt, do you." [Haley, Naima and Jacob's performance]
Then we caught a few snippets of other performances, like Rachel Zevita doing an emotional version of "Eleanor Rigby" wearing a widow's veil; Lauren Turner converting "Let it Be" into a torch song worthy of Bette Midler [Rachel and Lauren's performances], and finally, a longer excerpt of Tim Halperin and Julie Zorilla doing "Something." They both started out on keyboards before coming around to sing a very sensitive duet together, Julie wearing a striped halter dress and Tim a T-shirt and a black jacket with gray lapels. Their performance was easily my favorite so far. [Tim and Julie's performance]
Next to take the stage were Jerome Bell, Lakeisha Lewis, and Tatynisa Wilson. Their bad harmonies were very distracting in their version of "I Saw Her Standing There." Jerome wore a black jacket with gold chain epaulets, Tatynisa was in black leggings, a black top, and a long black and white striped coat, and Lakeisha was wearing a pink top with black and gray striped mini skirt and a black leather jacket. They had a lot of energy, but their vocals just did not deliver. Randy remarked, "That was crazy. All three of you can definitely sing." But he thought Jerome was just OK. He told Lakeisha she had "an Aretha kind of a thing." J. Lo thought Lakeisha was holding back and told Tatynisa, "It's not your best today." Steven, however, thought Tatynisa nailed it. [Jerome, Lakeisha and Tatynisa's performance]
Nashville duo Kendra Chantelle and Paul McDonald did "Blackbird." Paul was rocking a Kenny Loggins vibe in a tan short-sleeved shirt with black vest, while Kendra was understated in a little black dress with a studded belt. She started out strong but fell off the melody a bit near the end. I really liked Paul's singing, who has almost a husky quality that's a little bit Rod Stewart. There's something really beautiful in his tone. J. Lo liked it, and Steven complimented Paul's tone. Randy raved about the uniqueness in both of their voices. [Kendra and Paul's performance]
Then we saw just a few snippets of other contestants singing their version of “Help”, “Ticket to Ride,” and “With a Little Help from my Friends.” I spotted Clint Gamboa, Ashthon Jones, and John Wayne Schultz. [Montage]
Meanwhile, Ashley Sullivan took the opportunity to go to marry her boyfriend in the same chapel where Britney Spears once got married. The camera guy was the witness!
Teens Melinda Ademi and Thia Megia did "Here Comes the Sun." It was a pretty plastic version of the song. They both wore sequined tops, Thia with a black mini and Melinda with black leggings. J. Lo thought it wasn't as strong as she predicted. Steven said it was just all right for him. [Melinda and Thia's performance]
Ashley Sullivan and Sophia Shorai did "We Can Work It Out" and took big liberties with the melody, which I didn't like. Ashley wore the same white top and black plether pants she'd worn to get married, while Sophia wore a black and white polka dot top and black leggings. The judges panned them, with Randy saying that none of it worked. [Ashley and Sophia's performance]
At the end of an up-and-down week, Scott McCreery, Lauren Alaina, and Denise Jackson did a playful version of "Hello, Goodbye," coming out of a telephone box and doing a lot of hammy gesturing. Steven thought the song "didn't fit you guys" and that the choreography, running around the telephone box, was "like a Marx Brothers put out the fire thing." [Scott, Lauren and Denise's performance]
Carson Higgins and Caleb Hawley did a version of "Please Please Me" that ended on a sour note. [Carson and Caleb's performance]
Casey Abrams and Chris Medina did "Hard Day's Night," jumping around on a bed, which made Randy call them "freaks." [Casey and Chris's performance]
Finally, Robbie Rosen, Aaron Sanders, Jordan Dorsey did "Got to Get You Into My Life." Robbie and Aaron were right on, but Jordan was a bit off. Randy thought the harmonies started off rough but they'd pulled it in. J. Lo told Aaron, "You always surprise me." Steven thought that Robbie nailed it and all three were really good. [Robbie, Aaron and Jordan's performance]
After the second day of performances was over, there were some wholesale cuts. Thia Magia, Scott McCreary, Jordan Dorsey, Ashthon Jones, Robbie Rosen, Lauren Alaina and James Durbin went through, while Molly DeWolf, Carson Higgins, Caleb Hawley, Denise Jackson, Melinda Ademi, and Ashley Sullivan got sent home.
Looking at the group of people celebrating, Jacee Badeaux also made it through, as did Clint Jun Gamboa.
In a final round, the Top 40 had to sing for their lives before facing the so-called Green Mile, the walk they had to make to the judges to learn their fate.
First to hear the decision was Naima Adedapo, mother of two small children and custodian for a music festival. For her last performance of "Put Your Records On," she wore an African-looking dress in warm colors and sounded very confident. To hear the news, she wore a long, blue sparkly, lacy dress with a matching flower in hair. Before the judges delivered the news, she was already crying, questioning herself. Steven told her, "It's been hard for us to pick, from 40 people, the best." J. Lo added that Naima hasn't been the most consistent. Steven concluded, "I'm sorry I have to say that you're going to have a long, long haul in this business. You made it through." [Naima's results]
Next up was Hollie Cavenagh, who had made it to Hollywood with only two votes after J. Lo allowed her to sing a second song. For her last audition, she wore a purple dress, black leather jacket and lipstick as she sang "No One," sounding much better than her first audition. For the Green Mile, she wore a patterned tank top with black skinny jeans and heels. Steven said that when they first saw her, her singing "was all over the place." Hollie told them, "I've grown so much" in Hollywood Week. Steven finished: "Unfortunately, I'm sorry, but we're not going to put you through." At this point, J. Lo told Hollie that she'd wanted to put Hollie through but had been outvoted. She told her to audition next year because "I think you could come back and win." In the meantime, she needs "to grow a little bit, find out who you are as an artist." Hollie gave them all hugs. Randy made her promise to come back. That's if the show is still on, right, Randy? [Hollie's results]
Then we saw quick clips of others who had been cut: Lakeisha Lewis and Alex Ryan. Clint Gamboa was crying for Lakeisha, saying that "she's like family."
Karaoke host Clint Jun Gamboa did Lionel Ritchie's "Hello" for his final performance. As he marched up the Green Mile, he wore a gray T-shirt with red insignia, a green and white letter jacket, and red shoes. He'd switched to different glasses which are squarer and a better fit for his face. Randy brought up the fact that Clint booted Jacee out of his group in the early morning during Group Day. Clint remarked, "It wasn't anything personal. We all believe that Jacee is great. I hope no one views that the wrong way." Randy added that the judges "looked at the whole journey" to come to the final decision. He shook his head and then said, "You're going to have to see us a lot more, dude. You made it." Clint gave Randy a high five before collapsing on the stage, head in his hands, in what seemed like orchestrated histrionics. Then, of course, he hugged all the judges. [Clint's results]
Haley Reinhart had auditioned last year and not made it to Hollywood, so Randy asked her if she's grown since last year. She said yes, of course. In her final performance, she wore a black minidress and swallowed most of her words in a bluesy voice. For her results she wore a simple white blouse with ruffled sleeves and a floral mini-skirt. Steven told her, "We're really afraid to say that... you're a yes." [Haley's results]
Deandre Brackensick, who had previously been highlighted only on Group Day as part of The Minors, accompanied himself on ukelele for his last performance, wearing a white t-shirt, black pants and a black jacket. He wore a similar outfit to hear his results. Randy told him, "It's about consistency. For you, that didn't quite happen. You came close, but not close enough. Today it's a no." He urged Deandre to continue, to "work hard and come back." [Deandre's results]
Marching to the beat of his own drummer, Paul McDonald performed an original song for his final performance, wearing a white suit with floral embroidery that was soooooo Bee Gees. The song, with a refrain that went, "She's got American dreams," was pretty hummable. He was more toned down for his results, in a black T-shirt, brown leather jacket, and a plastic necklace with a pink flower on it. J. Lo told him there's something so special about you that "at the same time doesn't fit" with the competition. Hmm. Randy said there'd been questions of "is this guy American Idol material?" Randy told them that "American Idol material is anyone great, unique, with unforgettable talent." The judges like Paul's quirkiness. J. Lo told him, "We're going to bank on that and put you through." [Paul's results]
Ashthon Jones was wearing a blue kimono style one-sleeved shirt with black leggings and black heels when she got her results. For her final performance, she did "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" in a black minidress. I thought the performance was a little pitchy. Randy said the judges had wondered if she can put up with the pressure. But J.Lo said that they want somebody with the whole package: singing, presence, and confidence. "We've found that in you." She's in. [Ashthon's results.]
The final result of the evening was for Chris Medina. For his final song, he wore all black and sang "I Will Try to Fix You" which was almost painful, it was so off-key. In the decision chair, Chris claimed that his convalescent fiance's best moment in her life was when Steven Tyler kissed her on the cheek, J. Lo shook her hand and Randy greeted her. Really? Not when Chris proposed? J. Lo handled the news. She said that, while the judges had been touched by his story and he'd started out pretty strong, "at the end of the day this is about singing." She continued, "I don't want to draw this out, because as much as we love you, you had some good and you had some bad moments, and you should know we only have 24 slots. It honestly breaks my heart to say this, but you did not make it into the top 24. We wish you the best with everything, and we'll miss you." Chris took the news well: "It was nice meeting you." He said the competition encouraged him to continue as a musician. J.Lo told him, "Don't stop." He hugged them all. After he left, J. Lo broke down in tears, worrying she didn't deliver the news in the right way. Steven and Randy assured her she did. "I don't want to do this any more," she sobbed. [Chris's results]
To be continued...
Will J. Lo find the strength to continue, or will Steven and Randy have to handle the judgments alone? Find out tonight as the rest of the top 24 are revealed.
In the end, it's about the singing... or at least, it should be!