It may be the Chinese Year of the Snake, but as Idol hits Hollywood week two, it is all about the ladies. And with that, get ready for some awesome talent and a ton of tears, as each of our women put it all on the line.
In the a cappella round, the first contestant to meet the panel was nineteen year old, Mariah Pulice from Illinois who sang "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles. Next up was Angela Miller, who sang her heart out on Jessie J's, "Who U R." And finally, mariachi master, Victoria Acosta, really sold "Killing Me Softly" by Roberta Flack. She and Angela killed it for the judges and they are moving on to the group round, but we said goodbye to Mariah. But Mariah wasn't alone.
It was the end of the road for wildcard, Ashley Smith, New York's Sarah Restuccio was nixed, and newlywed, Ann Difani got a big no from the judges.
After the break, it was a country hoe down-show down, as two country hopefuls took the stage. Long Beach contestant, Rachel "Happy" Hale performed "People Get Ready" by Curtis Mayfield and Charlotte native, Janelle Arthur gave us the Hank Williams classic "I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry." Is there room for two country Queens? You bet! Both girls, as well a bunch of their fellow contestants, impressed the judges and are moving on to the next round.
The a cappella round continued as Candice Glover tried for a standing ovation repeat, with "Impossible" by Christina Aguilera. She was followed by the no-longer bruised, Baton Rouge, contestant Megan Miller who sang a crutch-free version of "Something's Got A Hold On Me" by Etta James. While Candice and several others got the nod, it was the end of the road for Megan who walked out under her own power, head held high.
Next our most interesting contestant, Kez Ban, was back, though her throat was under attack, as she struggled with a cold and the Moody Blues' "Nights In White Satin." Voice cracklin' Kez was followed by sixteen year-old Brianna Oakley from our Long Beach auditions and she sang, "It's Impossible" by Christina Aguilera. As impossible as it seemed, Kez Ban made it through, along with Brianna and seventy-three others. Their celebration was short, however, as they get ready to run the gauntlet of the Group Round!
As the girls geared up for Group, they got the same surprise the guys did, as the judges started picking their groups for the big night ahead. Zoanette was not copacetic with her country cousins and between song choice, rehearsals, and the waning hour; all of our girls were feeling the heat. But for Team Misfits, uh, it was one kooky night thanks to the one and only Kez Ban! Ol' Kez was jacked up over the song choice, offered massages to break the tension, and the rest of her group, uh, went to bed as Kez was on a quest for chow.
The next morning our sleepy singers slogged their way to the stage. With the Dawg stuck in the studio, it will be up to Keith, Mariah, and Nicki to determine the fate of the first groups to step up and sing.
First up, it's the "Swagettes," with Melinda Ademi, Kamaria Ousley, Denise Jackson, and Charlotte contestant, Candice Glover. The group worked well together last night, but will they have the cohesive dynamic to blow away our judges? They sang "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)" by Blu Cantrell, and Keith noted the close harmonies, terrific song choice, and how great they worked together. Practice must have made perfect, since the judges gave all four Swagettes a big yes!
"Raisn' Cane" then took the stage. Morgan Leigh Boberg, Lauren Mink, Brandy Hotard, and Jenny Beth Willis did some country kick-ass on Dixie Chicks' "Sin Wagon." Nicki was so inspired she became a Brooklyn southern belle for a moment as she sang the ladies' praises, offered to paint their toenails, and told all four they were movin' on ya'll!
Next up seeking Idol fame, was group "Almost Famous" who spent the night adding harmonies to "Someone I Used to Know" by Gotye. Savannah Votion, Lizz Weiss, Daysia Hall, and seventeen year old, J'Leigh Chauvin, took a risk with their rendition of so famous a tune. Harmonies have to blend, and, for the judges, only Daysia would be part of the mix moving on to the solo round. The rest of the girls felt like they did the work, carried Daysia, and there were tears and bad feelings all around.
Next it was time for "The Dramatics," who experienced plenty of drama the night before when teammate Janel Stinney went AWOL. Let's just say things were less than harmonious. Kriss Mincey, Janel Stinney, and San Antonio's Cristabel Clack, sang their hearts out, but Janel butchered the words to The Band Perry's "If I Die Young." Nicki didn't care. She loved the "feeling." Keith's feeling? Exact opposite. After some dramatic advanced math, though, all four of the Dramatics moved on.
But not all groups were so lucky. Some were completely wiped out, but among our group survivors were seventeen year-old Shubha Vedulla singing "If I Can't Have You" by the Bee Gees, Sarina-Joi Crowe and Aubrey Cleland.
Team Urban Hue hit the stage singing, "American Boy." Nicki found Kiara Lanier, Jett Hermano, Tenna Torres, and Seretha Guinn "painnnnnnfulllllll." A split decision somehow kept all but Seretha in the competition.
The Dawg wrapped his studio gig and he's back on the panel ready to hear the "Poohsnaps." Yep, the "Poohsnaps." Odd name for a group, probably a worse name for a breakfast cereal.
The gals gave it their all on "Knock on Wood" by Eddie Floyd. Wedding singer, Erin Christine, Texan Lauren Bettes, Isabelle (yep, not even a star yet and she has one friggin' name!), and the one and only, Zoanette tried to impress the panel. Most of team Pooh earned their due and are moving on, but for Lauren, the journey is over.
We got some Gotye redux as our next group took the stage, but not before some the members got catty and dissed member Liz Bills, who spent the morning searching for her erstwhile compadres. Israeli contestant, Shira Gavrielov, Alisha Dixon (with half her hair, but her full voice), Liz, and and sixteen year old Courtney Calle sang "Someone That I Used To Know." The Dawg wincing was not a good sign, and only Liz made it through as her teammates skulked away. But then, Shira didn't take no for an answer. She confronted the judges, told them how great she was, but the panel still said so long to Shira.
In what was probably a first, our next group, "For You," changed their song mere hours before they took the stage. Smart or will the girls and Idol part? Guess what? They changed it to the rarely heard Gotye song! Wisconsinite, Stephanie Schimel, Alex Delaney (with crib notes!), Kalli Therinae, and and fifteen-year-old Holly Miller treated the judges to "Someone That I Used To Know" AGAIN! Despite the last minute switcheroo and the flubbed lyrics, Stephanie and Holly made it. Alas, it's goodbye to Alex and Kalli.
The lost lyrics became a thing as singer after singer "talked to their hands" where they hoped their smudged lyrics could hopefully save the day. It didn't work well for most, but some of the members of the "Dolly Chicks" took "go big or go home" to a new level and wrote their lyrics all the way up their arms. Britnee Kellogg, Kree Harrison, Brandy Neelly, and the arm-reading Haley Davis sang "Sin Wagon" by Dixie Chicks. Nicki got the girls to rat-out Haley for not rehearsing enough, and then Nicki gave her a verbal, Brooklyn beat-down for blowing it. Somehow, all but a notably gracious Brittnee were allowed to move on.
Kez Ban and "The Misfits" carried their hot mess into the morning, as Kooky Kez missed the bus, and almost missed her chance before the judges. Breanna Steer, Angela Miller, and Janelle Arthur pulled it together to earn a standing ovation from Nicki who sent "crazy psycho" Kez and the rest on to the solo round.
So the Group rounds are done and its on to the solos where we'll see who can move one step closer to Idol fame and who is heading home.