We started with 100,000.... now we're down to
181. And as new judge Ellen DeGeneres prepares to take her spot among the music
industry elite, one question remains... who'll be the last 24 standing?
As far as American Idol
is concerned, we're walking on hallowed ground. This is where Kelly Clarkson,
Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, and Carrie Underwood were crowned. Right now, though,
it's just another stop on the way to the title. It can't be bought. It can't be
sold. It can't be rented. It can only be EARNED. And you start paying for it in
DAY 1: 7a.
As the contestants take their seats... Ellen
takes hers. She wants to be "kind, generous, but at the same time very direct."
Let's see what she's got to offer.
First up, we will sing in groups of eight. This
is sudden death, you either move on or go home.
In the first round: Katie Stevens from Boston and
Skiiboski from Atlanta. Katie sings "For Once in My Life". Skiiboski sings "Ain't
Too Proud to Beg". Skiiboski steps forward. Front row... is OUT. Katie survives.
Skiiboski doesn't go down without a fight, though.
Then Simon goes on the warpath. Ellen... is not
much better than he is. Next group has Vanessa Wolfe and Andrew Garcia. Andrew's
going to turn about "Straight Up" by that lady who was in Ellen's seat last
year. Kara says that he owned that moment. Vanessa... is even more than than
before now. And it shows as she sings "No Rain". Ellen tells her that nerves
will kill her. Tasha Layton... Andrew are forward... They're moving on. Vanessa
is going home.
Cornelius Edwards from Orlando... is OUT. Maegan
Wright from Dallas... is also OUT. Amedeo diRocco... is also OUT. Will Janell
Wheeler from Orlando follow suit with "American Boy" by Estelle? Nope. She's
through to the next round. As the day continued, some instrumentals didn't go
over so well. Haeley Vaughn from Denver is starting to second-guess herself.
Will she "Change" (Taylor Swift) her fortunes on this one moment? How about Mary
Powers, the rocker mom from LA, with "Sober" by Pink? Both are in the back...
and both are through!
Finally... a group of four does the hokey-pokey
through to the next round. They join Todrick Hall (Dallas), Charity Vance
(Chicago), and Ashley Rodriguez (Boston). In all, 46 contestants remain from day
DAY 2: 7a.
Another day, another group of 90 take the stage.
"Don't be nervous," Simon says... "Don't be boring... and don't forget the
words." Jay Stone from Orlando... is at least not boring. Lilly Scott (20,
Littleton, CO, sandwich maker) wowed them in Denver. She'll be singing "Lullaby
of Birdland" by Ella Fitzgerald. It's a very rich tone, and she's got the timbre
of the piece down. But did she make it to the next round? Yes, and so did some
dude named Sam. Jay, on the other hand, didn't...
Big Mike just got some interesting news... His
wife's water just broke. He's going with "Waiting on the World to Change" by
John Mayer... making it his own. And the crowd is being choral. That's usually a
good sign. A good day all around.
Justin Williams from Boston and Tim Urban (20,
Duncansville, TX, college student) in Dallas are next. Tim sings "Come Back to
Me" by David Cook with a good voice. A little shaky on the first verse, but very
nice. Justin goes with "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra, which was, to say
the least, interesting. Justin steps forward. Tim falls back. Tim.... is
through. Justin goes home. Joining Justin are Erica Rhodes (awww), Amanda and
Bernadette from Orlando, and... maybe Maddy Curtis from Boston? She sings "The
Nearness of You", which was the wrong choice for her. Next comes Casey James
from Denver and his blues guitar on "I Don't Need No Doctor". Casey steps
forward... and is through! Maddy is going home.
Time is drawing to a close. In the wings, the
last line with Didi Benami (Los Angeles), singing "Terrified" by... oh, some
judge who came on last year. Simon liked it. Also in the line, Crystal Bowersox
(Chicago) steps on with a new tattoo for her son. She sings "Natural Woman"...
and you know, Kelly Clarkson won the competition on the back of this song. That
is the standard... and Crystal doesn't hit it. She doesn't really need to. She's
infectious and real.
The final verdict. Crystal and Didi step
forward... and they're through!
Of the original 181, 95 dreams are still alive.
But Group Day has always been a gamechanger. I doubt that'll change next time.
Join us, won't you?
For more info on the auditions, and to see this episode in its
entirety, go to www.americanidol.com.