If you've been watching American Idol, you know that this year's crop of talent actually has TALENT!  And a lot of it!  And last night, Hollywood week continued with Group Night, which has historically been a breakdown!  But, on last night's show, the groups, for the most part, rocked the house!  Our Idol expert, Steve Thompson, was impressed too and we have his complete review of the show!

From Steve Thompson:  As if the Idol producers don't manufacture enough melodrama, we have group week to contend with yet again.  I guess we'll always have Group Week-- I just never saw the logic of having 168 solo singers trying to be in 39 singing groups.  Yeah, I'm old fashioned like that.

For 35 of the first sixty minutes, we are given what is ostensibly a blow-by-blow recap of all the machinations that go into choosing a group and rehearsing until you get it right.  (Yeah, that's okay FOX-- just because people get to watch the first episode of Survivor without missing nary a thing doesn't mean that you have to rush.)

There were heroes, villains, and the inevitable egos amuck here.  Tiffany Rios made everybody hate her from round one in Hollywood-- she is a villain.  Jessica Yantz feels sorry for Tiffany  and joins her duet.  I would call her a hero except that her voice will shatter more glass than Ella Fitzgerald's in the old Memorex commercial.

Meanwhile, Jordan Dorsey believes he's better than his group-- so he leaves for another but only after dissing Scotty McCreery among others as not good enough for his group.  This makes him a villain who could possibly be redeemed before the final curtain.

Ashley Sullivan is anointed our tragic heroine whose nerves nearly cost her a chance at continuing on Idol while Jaycee is our boy hero who finds that the more people turn against him, the better his chances will be.

For those of you who are still with me, we finally heard some singing...

Our first group sings the song "Grenade."  (The groups had twenty songs to choose from.)  Pia Toscano was the star of this group and immediately hit the ground running, in my opinion.  Finally, someone who may be able to rid America of the stench of Pia Zadora's name.  The other girls?  Fodder for round 3, I'm guessing.

Jordan Dorsey proves he has some talent to go along with his braggadocio as he continues along with Robbie Rosen.  I must admit I was kinda hoping Jordan would've fallen down on his face-- but the year is still young.

The duet of Tiffany Rios and Jessica Yantz?  They sang "Irreplaceable" which proved they weren't.

The group known as Spanglish includes two survivors for round three: Karen Rodriguez and Jovanny Barretto.  I think Karen sounded better than Jovanny, but I tend to prefer female singers.

We have at least two Laurens to remember so far.  Lauren Turner was the highlight of her group singing "Forget You."  Lauren Alaina was probably the best part of her group's version of "Some Kind of Wonderful."

I'm not sure why Colton Dixon survived in this round unless there was a belief that Matt Dillard might do exceptionally well.  Colton did survive-- but I doubt it was by much.

Other singers who were shown the door included Janelle Arthur, Allyson Jados, Devyn Rush and Caitlin Koch.

A few of my early favorites also didn't make the cut:  Paris "I'm doing this for my daughter" Tassin, Emily "I'm too original to win" Reed and Adrienne Beasley.  Adrienne was the girl from Wickcliffe.

Ashley Sullivan overcame being pitchy and her nerves as her group singing "Hit 'em Up Style" moved to the next round.  This group included a new name to remember-- Ashton Jones.

In the "Somebody to Love" sweepstakes, the more traditional rock version only had two survivors: James Durbin and Caleb Johnson.  The version featuring an all stage mother... er...  an all teenage version actually did much better.

Corey Levoy, evidently a judge favorite, seemed to barely do well enough to continue.  I am still impressed by how far Hollie Cavanaugh seems to have come from when she first auditioned.

Julie Zorilla, the girl who reminds me of a Hispanic version of Lea Michele from Glee, continues to do well.  Casey Abrams also survives to the next round.

Jacob Lusk is a possible sleeper.  His unique take on his portion of "Get Ready" reminded me of the kind of risks David Cook used to take on this show.  Also, an early favorite from Milwaukee-- Naima did well in the group round.

Brett Lowenstern continued his roll through to the top 60 with his group's take on "Mercy."  Even though Jacee Badeaux didn't do well on this song, he is passed through to round 3 as well.  The girls in this group barely passed muster with me.

The group that dissed Jacee was featured next as Scotty McCreery, Monique De Los Santos, and Frances Coontz are passed through.  The look of shock on Clint Gamboa's face?  Priceless.  For a second, the judges left him to twist in the wind-- possibly as payback for his dissing of Jacee.

In the final grouping of the evening, Rob Bolin is finally shown the door as his ex Chelsee Oaks and Jacqueline Dunford are given a pass to the next round.  Jacqueline forgot which version of "Forget You" she was singing and evidently sang the lyrics that had to be bleeped out.  Oh well.

My favorites of this episode?  Pia Toscano and Jacob Lusk seem to be keepers.  However, there are still so many good singers that the next cut will be truly painful to watch.  Rumor has it they cut it down from 100 to 60.  There's also a rumor that the final 20 will actually be 24.  If the talent holds true, that's probably very reasonable.

According to one of the Idol blogs, the so-called "Green Mile" episode was filmed tonight.  The better to keep the results from being all over the internet, I suppose.

We'll see tomorrow.  Same Idol time, same Idol station.

@February 16, 2011  Stephen W Thompson