The first night of Hell Week for “American Idol” contestants.
The first group I heard that seemed to really have it all together called themselves “White Chocolate” and consisted of India Morrison from Kansas City, Missouri and three guys: Justin Williams of Mesa, Arizona, Kris Allen of Conway, Arizona, and Matt Giraud of Kalamazoo, Michigan, all of whom were excellent. It was a Michael Jackson acappella scat-style tribute that was on key (Justin Williams actually is a voice teacher) and impressed the judges, setting the standard for the rest of group night. The bar was set high.
Maryhn Azoff, Austin Sisneros (Riverton, Utah), J.B. Ahfua, Taylorsville, Utah, Shelby Swartwood of Bountiful, Utah and Julissa Veloz of Orlando, Florida had the bad luck to be declared “an absolute mess.” The girls were done; the boys were put through.
Comments like, “I’m done with worrying about the group. I’ve got to worry about me,” came from Nancy Wilson, who seemed rather harsh in her desire to excel and turned out to not have “mad” vocal skills, after all. Her frustration was easy to empathize with, however, as her team began to fall apart.
Alex Wagner-Trugman of Studio City, California, and Ann Marie Boskovich of Nashville made it through; Ryan Pinkston (Boston, Massachusetts)—who, to be fair, had a very good voice— and Emily Wynn-Hughes of Los Angeles, California did not make the cut. Ryan sounded pretty good, of the four performing “Don’t Stop Thinkin’ About Tomorrow” (Bill Clinton’s campaign song), but the group wandered off-key and never found its way back to the true melody. Ryan did not take his rejection well, saying he felt “manipulated and assaulted” and declaring that he “saw an evil in her eyes” in reference to Paula Abdul. Personally, I was surprised that Emily made it through last night’s (February 3rd) performance. She left tearfully, but not in a hostile way. After all, they cut David Osmond, too, so no one should feel that bad.
The group that sang “Some Kind of Wonderful” is another good one to watch: Jeremy Michael Sarver (the cowboy from the Jasper, Texas oilfields), Adam Lambert (the San Francisco standout), Matt Breitzke of Bixby, Oklahoma and Jesse Langseth (Minneapolis, Minnesota). “I loved it. “It was a hot performance.” “You’re an incredible singer.” “That was a terrific performance.” All good news for the “Some Kind of Wonderful” foursome.
Danny Gokey, the widower from Milwaukee, excelled, as he sang lead vocals, backed by Taylor Haifunu from Hurricane, Utah, Jamar Rogers, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a blonde girl whose name I did not catch. (The Rainbow Coalition).
Rose Flack (blonde) didn’t make it and left saying, “I hated my group so much.” There were excuses from scoliosis in heels from Bikini Girl to “work ethic” issues. Lauren and Katrina got cut. Jasmine did survive her Diva experience, but just barely.
Simon, who said he needed a crateful of Advil, hurled “Horrible,” “useless” and other similar insults at the contestants. As Ryan Seacrest said, “Only the strong survive (d).” Tatiana Del Toro was pretty annoying as she flitted from group to group and attempted to scat her way to the next round. Her group triumphed and all went through as a group. As Seacrest said, “It’s all about Tatiana.” I thought I was watching a bad parody of Sally Fields’ acceptance speech for Norma Rae when she broke into tears and said, “You love me. You really love me,” a sensitive breakdown from which it has taken her years to recover.
“Team Compromise” did some praying, but, as one survivor of the group said, “Nathaniel was so intense that “it’s been very distracting.” Nathaniel Marshall was hilarious. Nancy Wilson of Miami, Florida, who had been trying to get the group to do her bidding all night during rehearsals, was lackluster. Blonde Kristin McNamara of Napa Valley, California will be around in future rounds and showed she had the chops to make it a long way in the competition.
I had a hard time deciding whether Bikini Girl, Tatiana the Terrible Hysteric, or Nathaniel, the Nervous Nelly was the most entertaining this night. [“I tried to make those girls get along. I don’t know what to do.”] A true drama queen, I did I not find it hard to believe that Nathaniel might not know much about controlling women who were at odds, as his team-mates Nancy and Kristin were on “Mercy” by Duffy. Seventy-five move on and try to make it in to the top thirty-six.