The 100 contestants left over from American Idol's long, challenging group night were back on their own, auditioning solo. And it was an excellent hour, based on the performances. This could be a strong season – the voices have unusual polish and projection. But who knows?
The results of the night were delivered, as is hallowed Idol tradition, with the singers slotted into different assembly rooms and given the news, good or bad, en masse. I was fascinated during these segments by Jennifer Lopez's ensemble of yellow top and sequined black shorts. She looked like a queen bee doing a state tour of the hive.
Here are some prominent faces you'll see next week during the Beatles challenge:
Jacob Lusk, who's suddenly getting a lot of camera attention, did a spectacular, melodramatic version of "God Bless the Child." If you could pack that many vocal tricks into a bag, you wouldn't be allowed to carry it onto an airplane.
The extremely intense Ashley Sullivan blanked out on the lyrics to "Everything," sang the chorus reasonably well, then crumbled. As Ryan somberly noted, "So Ashley falls apart again." And, one suspects, will fall apart yet again, and again, and will as long she's in the competition. Scotty McCreery also had trouble with lyrics, but he, too, is too good to let go this soon.
Clint Jun Gambao, who belted out "Georgia on My Mind," has effectively moved beyond his sad treatment of little Jacee Badeaux. If the judges forgive him, shouldn't we all? Jacee stayed, too, and so did his Wednesday-night savior, Brett Loewenstern.
Casey Abrams, who also performed "Georgia," created a precedent that probably won't be repeated, playing a standup bass as accompaniment. He's talented, but how long can his groovy-bluesy-jazzy act last on this sort of show?
Chris Medina and Carson Higgins both sang Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative," but Chris stuck to guitar accompaniment and Higgins sang with the band. Chris's version was modest, and from what I could tell slightly underwhelming, while Carson went heavy on the funkiness – his theatricality makes it hard to tell how well he actually sings.
Thia Megia (who formerly performed on NBC's America's Got Talent), sang "What a Wonderful World" in a super-mellow, showbiz-y voice. For some reason I adore her.
Out: Jacqueline Dunford went off to the hospital with an unspecified illness, leaving the competition. Chelsee Oaks, the last of the odd quadrangle formed with Jacqueline, Jacqueline's boyfriend Nick Fink and Chelsee's ex boyfriend Rob Bolin, tried to carry on alone, but her performance was off. Mark Gutierrez also left, the night after his brother got the boot.