— The “American Idol” group sing exists solely for two types of people. Those interested in studying the psychology of how coalitions form, work together and bond under stress, and those who simply like watching egotistical people melt down when faced with the pressure.
Season 10 took that to another level by mandating that each group contain some whose initial performance came on the first day and some who sang on the second. That kept the successful Day One auditioners who had already made informal arrangements from having an unfair advantage, and also added to the stress level when this was announced at 8:30 p.m. the night before the next round was to take place.
This year had no shortage of meltdowns, and most people would have probably expected the teenagers to crack first. But the younger singers actually held up pretty well. And in fact, the biggest meltdown came from 26-year-old Ashley Sullivan.
Sullivan has been most notable this season for her ... well, emotions would be a kind way of putting it. If she wore a mood ring, it would change colors and flash like a disco ball. The stress of having to learn a song and choreography with three others was too much for her, even though the other three singers were a lot nicer and more tolerant than pretty much any other group there.
At one point, Sullivan said she was quitting the competition, walked off with her boyfriend to think it over and then came back to rejoin her team. Sometimes that leads to disaster. But while Sullivan is a mess when she doesn’t have a microphone, she’s done pretty well when she’s actually performing. She came through again when the chips were down, and so we’ll undoubtedly get to see her in tears again in Thursday’s episode.
Mercy for Badeaux ...
One 15-year-old who had perhaps the most stressful 24 hours of anyone was Jacee Badeaux.
Badeaux started out in the Guaps, but got kicked out soon after Scotty McCreery turned that quartet into a quintet. After wandering around forlornly, the young singer got a break in finding another crew to work with. The downside: Since Sugar Momma and the Babies had already picked Duffy’s “Mercy” as their song, which he wasn’t familiar with, he had to learn the words quickly.
And, well, that didn’t happen. But Badeaux did have the poise to finish with the made-up verse, “I’m gonna do this ‘cause I know/that I won’t be going home ... hopefully.” The judges made him stress until the last possible second, ensuring that he would break down in tears onstage, but he made it along with the rest of the crew.
... And for his bullies
The Guaps were backstage when Badeaux’s new group threw them under the bus for their decision to boot him out, and the expressions on their faces were priceless. McCreery wasted no time trying to get back into everyone’s good graces, apologizing for not sticking up for him.
“I love all of y’all, but Jaycee is the best kid in this whole competition,” he said.
To their credit, the foursome then went out and took care of business. McCreery, Monique de los Santos and Frances Coontz were told by the judges to step forward first, leaving Clint Jun Gamboa to stand open-mouthed in the background as they were told they were moving on. Then Steven Tyler added an “along with Clint,” and he got to join the party as well. But if Gamboa and Badeaux both reach the semifinals, that will be one awkward couch when they have to sit next to each other.
Sixty-eight singers were sent home, but not many results were all that shocking.
All the lobbying in the world couldn’t get Tiffany Rios into a group, so she and Jessica Yantz formed a duet they called Rebel Star. That rebellious streak made her a logical choice to stick around, for drama purposes if nothing else, but she wound up going home anyway.
Paris Tassin was one of the sad stories of the auditions, with the tale of her and her special-needs daughter winning the heart of J.Lo and the other judges. But this is the heartless stage of the competition, and her dream ended as well.
And say goodbye to "Idol Matchmaker." The judges' favorite duet of exes, Rob Bolin and Chelsee Oaks, were split up for good as the exhausted Bolin essentially gave up and mailed it in, forgetting the words and not even trying to do the assigned choreography. Based on how his story arc was edited, it looks like someone at “Idol” wanted to give everyone some insight as to why he might not have been the easiest person in the world to date. Perhaps Oaks’ new boyfriend had some input into the selection of footage.
The biggest camera hogs of the night didn’t even belong to any of the contestants, but to some of the moms.
Keonna Evans, Jalen Harris, Sarina Joi-Crowe, Felix Ramsey and Deandre Brackensick formed The Minors, a collection of 15- and 16-year-olds who got a lot of help — both solicited and not — from their moms. Perhaps too much help, according to some of the other groups. Not only did the moms offer their suggestions in rehearsal, but they also trashed the group that came before theirs and danced when their kids all made it through.
That got old in a hurry, but they're in good position for an "Idol Moms" reality show spin-off if their kids all have an extended run in the competition.
Craig Berman is a writer in Washington. Follow him @craigberman
, where he live tweets each "Idol" show.