'American Idol' recap: Faint Praise

american-idol-season-11.jpgWelcome back to Hollywood at 7:00 AM for the day of the group round, which of course has been fraught with drama and stress, mainly because of all the people who are faffing on about the drama and stress (yes, I'm looking at you, Alisha), but also because of the debilitating plague ravaging the contestants. Ryan tells us there are 42 groups and 185 people left, all of whom are stressing out at 8:45 AM for various reasons (lack of preparation, total distrust of one another, generally being *******s even before their first audition) and trying to cram in last-minute rehearsals before everyone files into the auditorium for the group rounds, which the judges show up for promptly at 9:00 AM.

The first group up is the Bettys, who you may recall from last week as a quintet of teenage girls who went to bed one by one the night before. Alpha-Betty Jennifer (actually 20, which, whoa) takes the lead for the opening of a rendition of "Hit 'Em Up Style" whose quality is inversely proportional to how early each soloist went to bed last night. Randy intones, "That was really bleak," so that unexpected word choice probably means he's already hit his quota of interesting comments for the night. Jennifer and a blonde named Cari are asked to step forward, but the other three (including one who saw the medic three times today) are cut loose. Ryan chalks up another victim to the "Idol Bug." So we're down to the top 182! 183, if you count the Idol Bug.

The editors get all freeze-framey as the next group, consisting of Nick Boddington, Aaron Marcellus, Reed Grimm, Jen Hirsh and Creighton Fraker, a.k.a. "Groovesauce," heads out onstage. They sing "Hold On, I'm Comin'" and while not terribly saucy, it's extremely groovy. The audience is on its feet, and with everyone harmonizing in back in between each singer's solo, there's really not a weak link on the stage. We couldn't have started with them? All five are through to the next round. Which I would be a lot happier about if they hadn't celebrated with a self-written jingle about Groovesauce.

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