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Get Your Group On, Again

The Season 11 "American Idol" auditions moved to Las Vegas next for another group round, this time of '50s and '60s songs. The 70 remaining contestants would perform on the Cirque Du Soleil, Viva Elvis stage.



Skylar Laine was having difficulty with the harmonies while rehearsing with her group. Cari Quoyeser was also in the group, along with Chase Likens and Colton Dixon. They sang the Shirelles song "Dedicated to the One I Love," wearing black and white, with the guys in white jackets. Of the four of them, Skylar and Colton sounded the best in their solos, and the harmonies were occasionally a little off but not too terrible. Cari was cut, and the others made it through. [SKYLAR, CARI, CHASE & COLTON PERFORM]

Jeremy Rosado, David Leathers, Ariel Sprague, and Gabi Carrubba took on the Jackson 5 tune "Rockin' Robin," wearing red and black, and incorporating some seamless choreography. They were a tight group, and you'd never guess the song had come out 30 years before they were born. David was perfect when he took the lead, because his voice is reminiscent of a young Michael Jackson. Randy Jackson called it "hot" and complimented David for getting it together on his pitch. They were all through to the next round. [JEREMY, DAVID, ARIEL & GABI PERFORM]

Erika Van Pelt, Angie Zeiderman, Shelby Tweten and Adam Brock did the Jerry Lee Lewis classic, "Great Balls of Fire." Angie was still very burlesque/Broadway. She reminded me of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Shelby was kind of forgettable, but Erika was solid. The group wore black leather jackets and used the on-stage cars as props. Randy announced, "Adam, you made it through. Shelby, you also made it through. Erika, congratulations, you also made it. And Angie... [HUGE PAUSE] congratulations. You made it through, too." Steven Tyler told Angie, "You're a skinny little girl; you don't have many tail feathers, but you sure shook them." [ERIKA, ANGIE, SHELBY & ADAM PERFORM]

Schyler Dixon, Brielle Von Hugel, and Molly Hunt dressed like the Andrews Sisters to sing the Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers tune "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" They wore khaki Army-style shirts, olive short-shorts, and olive Army-style hats. Of course, that's a cute idea, even though it's the wrong decade (the Andrews Sisters were from the '40s, girls). Schyler and Brielle went through, but according to the judges, Molly's individual vocals were "kind of hurting." She was cut. [SCHYLER, BRIELLE & MOLLY PERFORM]

Also leaving, Wayne Wilson, Ashley Robles, Stephanie Renae, Aubrey Dieckmeier, Janelle Arthur and Tenna Torres.

In the next group were Reed Grimm, Elise Testone, Eben Franckewitz, and Haley Johnson. Reed started out the song and hammed it up. They did kind of a disco version of the Carpenters song, "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes." Not sure what I thought of Elise: her voice kind of broke in the middle, but she does sound really professional. They all wore black, gray and white with a little pop of red (including a red lip print on Eben's cheek). Eben was really comfortable when he took the lead, and his voice was refreshing. Elise ended the song with a delicious run. The judges gave them a standing ovation and put them all through. [REED, ELISE, EBEN & HALEY PERFORM]

Debra Byrd, the vocal coach, released Richie Lawson and his partner, Jermaine Jones, to work on their melody for the Burt Bacharach song "Make It Easy on Yourself," because she wasn't happy with how they were doing. Jermaine Jones started the song solid, but Richie was nasal, as always. Randy was impressed and said the song was the best for Jermaine. Jennifer liked it, too. Richie said, "We were glad it became a duet and not a duel." Seems like it is possible for Richie to work well with someone (although he had talked smack about Jermaine during the rehearsal period, blaming him for the difficulty with nailing the melody). They were both through.

A quick montage of others going through: Hallie Day, Baylie Brown, Chelsea Sorrell.

Changing up their song, the next group -- Jessica Sanchez, Deandre Brackensick and Candice Glover -- did kind of a funky soul version of Buddy Holly's "It Doesn't Matter Anymore." The guy, Deandre, has really long, blonde kinky curls, and they all wore black and gray, sort of nightclub looks. Their voices melded well. I wasn't so sure about Candice; she was a little pitchy, although she has presence. They all made it through. [JESSICA, DEANDRE & CANDICE PERFORM]

Doing an Elvis song, "Jailhouse Rock," Clayton Farhat, Adam Lee Decker, Curtis Gray, and Scott Dangerfield all wore black leather jackets and white-and-gray-striped V-neck with tight jeans. They were definitely channeling Elvis in terms of moods but stuck to their own singing styles, rather than trying to be Elvis imitators. It was fun. Randy told them it was good but told Scott he was rushing. He also noted some pitch problems with Curtis. Steven showed off his musical knowledge, pointing out it was a "minor third thing." Jennifer also told them to use dynamics. Scott and Clayton made it through, as did Adam. For Curtis, it was the end of the line. [CLAYTON, ADAM, CURTIS & SCOTT PERFORM]

Then, we saw some other contestants doing Elvis. That includes Joshua Ledet, who the judges loved even though he ate some of the words. Joshua and Shannon Magrane went through to the next round, as did Caleb Johnson and Joshua Sanders. [MISCELLANEOUS PERFORMANCES & CUTS]

One group, the Neapolitans, consisting of Britnee Kellogg, Jessica Phillips and Courtney Williams, didn't rehearse with the band or the vocal coaches said they didn't need them because they're all professionals. They sure looked like "professionals" in pink glittery mini-dresses as they sang the Supremes hit "You Keep Me Hanging On." Jessica was popping into the mike, which the vocal coach probably could have helped her with. I think they're a little full of themselves if they think they didn't have anything to learn. Not that they didn't sound good; but they might have gotten some tips on refining it. Steven liked it. Randy told Courtney that sometimes she was doing too much to the simple melody. He liked Britnee, though, and so did Jennifer. Steven wanted to see more from Jessica. Jennifer said that "playing around in the stratosphere" with a song like this doesn't always work. Jennifer said that "it almost made us feel like you didn't know the melody." Wow. If only they'd gotten these type of notes before they went onstage. Britnee made it through. Courtney also made it through. It was the end of the line for Jessica. [BRITNEE, JESSICA & COURTNEY PERFORM]

Jennifer said that "I didn't come here to win a television show; I came here for a record deal." She thought that people made it through who weren't going to sell records. Sour grapes much?

The next group -- Lauren Gray, Wendy Taylor & Mathenee Treco -- was a little bit of a mess, doing the Shirelles song "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." Mathenee was not impressing me with his extra runs. Their harmonies were also weak near the end. Steven had Lauren and Wendy step forward and told Mathenee it was the end of the road. The other two were through. [LAUREN, WENDY & MATHENEE PERFORM]

Finally, viewers got to see one of the fan favorites perform: Heejun Han. He and his group, which also included Jairon Jackson, Neco Star, and Phillip Phillips, did a doo-wop version of their song, the Flamingos tune "I Only Have Eyes for You." The group was working with the "vocal coach from hell," Peggi Blu, who has a reputation of being hard on contestants. When she noticed that Heejun was scared, she gave him a hug. The group were solid, with Heejun and Neco standing out as the best. Although, the judges milked the results, all four were put through. Heejun collapsed into tears of relief. [HEEJUN, JAIRON, NECO & PHILLIP PERFORM]

Jen Hirsh, Creighton Fraker, Nick Boddington and Aaron Marcellus called themselves Lady and the Spectacles (all were former members of Groovesauce, missing only Reed Grimm, who had joined another group). They were doing a barbershop harmony version of the Bobby Vinton song "Sealed with a Kiss." But the vocal coach, Peisha McPhee, urged them to stand out individually, as well. They reminded me of the New Christy Minstrels (not exactly a good thing). Jen was a little off in her solo part. Creighton made Jennifer make a face that said, "I'm not sure if I hate it or love it." The judges heard something I didn't, because they praised the group, although Randy told Nick he wasn't sure it was his best. He had Aaron, Creighton, and Jen step forward. The front row went through. Nick was cut.

All the day one contestants got called back so they could do more eliminations, since the judges hadn't cut enough that day. Colton Dixon was through, but his sister, Schyler was cut, which really upset him. Also cut were Gabi Carrubba, Angie Zeiderman, Candice Glover, Johnny Keyser, Jairon Jackson, and Britnee Kellogg. She was devastated, because she thought her every performance was perfect. [THE JUDGES MAKE MORE CUTS]

This took us down to the Top 42. Next week, the remaining contestants will perform individually one last time for the judges, who will decide on a Top 24 who will compete for viewer votes.

Moral:
You're never safe from surprise eliminations until you're actually in the live shows.


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