Best of the night was the first group, The Swaggettes -- Melinda Ademi, Kamaria Ousley, Candice Glover, and Denise Jackson on "Hit Em Up Style." This song has become a group-round fave and always seems to go over well as long as each girl knows the words. Candice's huge voice stood out here and the other three let her bask in the "I'ma do a big ol' run" spotlight before joining her on a final, well-harmonized coo. I finally remembered Melinda Ademi from season 10 -- her family escaped from Kosovo. I nearly didn't notice/recognize her in the face of Kamaria's bold yellow (lens-less?) glasses and fabulous red pants. But there she was. Hey, hey!
"A lotta cowgirl boots up there," said Ryan, clearly missing his own, re: Raisin' Cain, a well-devised country quartet made up of Morgan Lee Boberg, Lauren Mink, Brandy Hotard, and some tragic girl on the right who was never named. Was it because her white cotton dress featured black lace? We'll never know. Brandy dominated the vocals by far, and I liked her voice, but she struck me as almost too aggressive onstage. But in general, if someone's like that and is talented, Idol tends to dig it.
Drama alert! Crop top enthusiast Savannah Votion felt she'd taken on too much during her group's prep and exited the series, forever, in a rude huff. To be fair, she was probably the best in a disastrous group. Somehow, Daysia Hall, who botched "Somebody That I Used To Know" the hardest by far, was the only member of Almost Famous (exactly!) who got to stay. Lizz Weis and J’Leigh Chauvin also got the boot; in J'Leigh's case this may have been due to some truly questionable "shredded" tights. Is that a look? Not anymore. I bet that girl will never shred anything again.
Then we had The Dramatics -- again, exactly -- who sort of came together during moments of "If I Die Young," despite a near-sociopathic turn from an odd-woman-out named Janel Stinney. Amusingly, my word processor refused to acknowledge "Janel" as an acceptable spelling so my notes are a whole mess of lines like "it's been an all-day struggle for the girls to connect with jangle."
Jangle claimed in front of her group mates to be a "solo artist," and just…what??? You're on American Idol's Hollywood Week; you are a con artist at best.
Janel messed up the whole song, but Nicki Minaj gave her a standing O anyway and purred "That's what I LOVE about you today." She would later berate others for forgetting the lyrics. Choose a side. The whole group went through, including Kriss Mincey (who had some intense Mariah Carey-pitched runs in there: impressive?), Cristabel Clack, and a tall lady in shiny turquoise pants.
"No more beating up on yourself, Janel!" cried Nicki -- ewww, she definitely wasn't, Janel was being a total snob weirdo to those girls -- and then Janel hugged her fancy family and blissfully continued to be obnoxious.
NEXT: You better knock on wood and hope Zoanette's awake