American Idol 9 Hollywood Week Group Rounds, February 10, 2010

Who Became a Favorite During the Dreaded Group Performances?

American Idol always uses the group round of Hollywood Week to give fans a glimpse of the contestants' personalities. The truth is that this is a high-pressure situation and probably not very indicative of any contestant's real personality. Nonetheless, some Idol fans love to judge contestants based on the drama that inevitably occurs when contestants get forced into a group performance.

Tonight's big loser in terms of personality was Mary Powers. Although she did get through the group round, her pushy and condescending attitude probably did not go over too well with many fans. Mary even upset musical director Michael Orland when Orland was helping to arrange the group performance. She was also rather condescending to Alex Lambert. By the way, Alex did not perform so well but also got voted through for now. Read my American Idol 9 spoiler updates for the Top 24 to see if these contestants made it to the public voting rounds.

A potential big winner on the night was Michael Lynche. However, it had little to do with his singing, which was just okay from the small clip aired on the Hollywood Week group episode. Michael was by far the most heavily featured contestant tonight except for Mary Powers. Unlike Mary, though, Michael's edits were very positive. His wife was in labor while his group was preparing. Michael was shown multiple times, and his wife had a baby girl. This is destined to get him some new fans. For whatever reason, the producers seem to want Michael in the Top 12. Look for him to get a bounce after tonight since he was clearly the most featured contestant that was put in a positive light.

Janell Wheeler got more face time and seems to be a producer favorite. Both she and Casey James were featured on both of the first two Hollywood Week episodes. Their clips were short, but the additional face time can only help build a bigger fan base for them.

Jermaine Sellers was featured but not in such a positive light. He delivered a very high and powerful note for his solo part of the "Phoenix" group performance. But the judges were shown giving bad reviews. Jermaine has a great range and pretty good power, but the edit did not do him any favors, particularly when he was on camera saying that he is not cut out to perform in groups. Jermaine also seems to have a strategy of taking a song and putting an RnB spin on it. This will not go over well with American Idol fans. Jermaine needs to modify his strategy a bit because the kinds of arrangements that contestants like David Cook pulled out of their bag of tricks are looked at as cool. But simply throwing in a few RnB notes in a song is not going to cut it.

Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens were the other big winners on the night. They were in the same group and sang Alicia Keys' "No One." Andrew was particularly great at showing, once again, that he will probably be able to pull off a song in just about any genre.

I don't see the big love for Katie. She still seems to lack vocal control, but there's simply no doubt that she is a judge favorite. For starters, she has now been featured during both of the first two rounds. And at one point in the show, Kara remarked that some contestant could be the winner. The camera then showed Katie with a big smile on her face. This could have been creative editing, but the producers certainly know the effect it had. I predicted that Katie would be an early favorite. And that prediction is holding true even though I am personally less and less impressed as time goes on.

Once again, Ashley Mikailah Rodriguez was not heavily featured. Ashley, thought by many to be a favorite, seems to have lost that favorite role at this point. Katie, Andrew, and Didi seem to be the most positively portrayed contestants in terms of performance face time. And Ashley should not be a favorite. Her clip was nothing special, and it was Charity Vance who was actually featured a bit more in Ashley's group. Michelle Delamor finally got a little more face time but not enough to remember her. At this point, Ashley and Michelle do not seem to be strong judge favorites. That may change, but they are both on a downward trend at this point.

Katelyn Epperly is another contestant thought by many to be a favorite. This is not holding up for now. Katelyn has not been featured on either of the Hollywood Week rounds except for a brief mention at the end of the group-round episode. We only know that she made it through.

Siobhan Magnus finally got some air time as part of Todrick Hall's "Destiny's Wild" group. Siobhan's singing was aired only in one very small clip, but she did have a few speaking parts. Siobhan seems to have a lot of power in her voice, but the clip was simply too short to form an opinion. Siobhan is in trouble of being cast as cannon fodder if she is not featured more next week. And this is true even if she is one of the best this season. No air time usually means a contestant will struggle to get votes in the dreaded first three weeks of the Top-24 public voting format.

Speaking of Todrick Hall, people are likely to have mixed reactions. Todrick, who is alleged to be a scam artist for activities related to his "Oz The Musical" production, was prominently featured in a kind of us-against-them role during the group round. They apparently annoyed a neighboring group because they were too loud. Then Todrick was shown multiple times and eventually accused the other group of stealing their acapella idea. It's not like Todrick Hall invented the concept of acapella singing, so this seemed rather silly.

Todrick also potentially came off as arrogant to some fans. He remarked that other contestants were praising their ideas leading up to the "Destiny's Wild" performance. Todrick is experienced in show business. He has to know that this kind of air time can backfire. On the other hand, a contestant needs to have face time on camera to build a base of fans. So any air time may be better than no air time.

In terms of performance, Todd sang rather well and did a huge back flip during his group performance. This will likely have no effect one way or another because his singing part was too short to draw any conclusions.

All in all, Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens seem to be huge favorites at this point. Michael Lynche's presence seemed to be more of a human-interest story, so his substantial time on air may have a negligible effect. Todrick Hall did not do himself many favors, but he at least got more camera time to make fans more familiar with him. Looking at both nights, Didi Benami, who was not really featured, seems to be a strong favorite. Crystal Bowersox was also strong in the first round but only shown at the end tonight. Crystal's chances are hard to figure until we see what kind of reaction we get from fans in the first three weeks of public voting (if she made it). Janell Wheeler and Casey James are also getting lots of time on camera and likely building a solid fan base.

Next week, the 70-odd remaining contestants will continue to battle it out for a spot in the Top 24. Wait until then or view some spoilers if you can't wait to see who made it.

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