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American Idol, Feb. 15 – Flu Bug Claims More

I don’t know what to do with myself tonight. American Idol is two hours again. It seemed nearly a foregone conclusion for so long that the show would comprise two hours, and it’s only been that length one time so far this season. I must admit to it being a welcome change for a recapper, but it’s also nice to be back to two hours, because somehow, an hour never seems to be enough.

Tonight we’re picking up with the group round in Hollywood week. The first group was just about to take the stage when last Thursday’s show ended … after just an hour. And there was some type of flu bug that was running among the contestants. They were puking, fainting, and sweating. From the previews, it seems we’re due for more of the same tonight.

Everyone is primping for the group round, and even they are preparing for drama. They all seem to feel less-prepared than usual. Walking into the gymnasium, they have the look that they’re being led to Auschwitz.

First up is a group of ladies who had a rough night of practice. One was barfing, and the others were fighting. I’m not sure which I’d rather be. The group includes Jennifer Malsch, 20, of Washington, D.C., Cherie Tucker, 23, a lab technician from Rochester, Cari Quoyeser, 21, a student/barista from Houston, Gabrielle Cavassa, 17, of Escondido, CA, and Brianna Bell, 17, of Stow, OH, and they’re singing Hit ‘Em Up Style. The judges look unimpressed, nearly repulsed. None of them are hitting it right. The audience of fellow contestants are non-plussed.

The judges – Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson – deliberate, over what I don’t know. Steven calls out Jennifer and Cari, and they’re going through. The others are going home. Cherie barfs a little more. She complains she’s already done it three times today and has been trying her best to not pass out.

The next group, Group Sauce (I have switched to an old TV without closed captioning, so I can’t check what they’re saying when I’m not sure), somehow slipped past the flu bug last night. Reed Grimm, 26, a nanny from Ellsworth, WI, Nick Boddington, 26, of NYC, Creighton Fraker, 28, a starving artist from Queens, Aaron Marcellus, 27, a music teacher from Atlanta, and Jen Hirsh, 25, a winery employee from Agoura Hills, CA, sing Hold On, I’m Comin’ J-Lo is jamming. I’m thinking she’s ecstatic that they are at least in tune this time around. She notes that the background totally backs the vocals. Randy particularly enjoys Aaron. The crowd gets into it as well with the great harmony and choreography at the end.

This group gets a standing ovation from the crowd and the judges. Randy tells them that’s how you do it. It was nice harmony. He mentions that he and Jennifer were talking about the background holding it together while they all shined individually. Jennifer loves a good breakdown. Steven reminds them they got a Standing O. Randy adds that they set the bar and puts them all through. Certainly at least one of them, if not more, will be in the final 20.

The group 6, 7, 9 is up next, as Kyle Crews mentions they have some extra members in the form of parental units. “They have their own ideas too, and they like to share them.” This college student doesn’t seem to happy about that. Brielle von Hugel’s mother is upset that Tyler is opening the act, saying that Randy always stops the whole act if it isn’t any good, and it’s not fair to the other kids. Well, who should start it then, Brielle? Brielle reminds us she was in Pia Toscano’s group last season, and it was really good, but they went with something different this year. She doesn’t seem too happy about that.

The group takes the stage, and Kyle, 19, a student/camp counselor from San Diego, does indeed start them out. And look … Randy isn’t stopping them, although Brielle’s mother looks horrified by Kyle’s performance, and I’m not sure why. Brielle, 17, from Staten Island, gets her shot as her mom cheers her on. They’re joined by Joshua Ledet, 19, of Westlake, LA, and Shannon Magrane, 16, of Tampa.

The judges deliberate and call up Shannon, Brielle, Amber, and Joshua. Kyle gets sent home, which I’m sure will only have the stage mom continuing her antics. He says he tried his best, but the song was in the wrong key for him, leaving him to not be able to show what he is capable of. He promises to be back and keep pursuing this. Stage Mom says they love Kyle, and he has a good voice. When she’s away from him, she then says the weakest voice was opening the act. Who cares? Her daughter made it through anyway. Give it a rest already.

The Make-You-Believers are up next, with Amy Brumfield, the one who seemed to infect everyone else with the flu bug, Jacquie says the only thing she caught was a positive attitude. Right before they take the stage, Jacquie collapses. The quartet has to regroup as a trio. Jackie regains her composure and tries to get ready to take her spot on the stage anyway.

The group – Dustin Cundiff, 18, of Hardinsburg, KY, Amy, 25, of Pigeon Forge, TN, Mathenee Treco, 25, a dance instructor from Centennial, CO, and Jacquie Cera, 26, a receptionist from Portland, takes the stage, and Dustin forgets his words, as Randy yells out to the others to help him. Amy can’t remember them either and sounds terrible. Mathenee remembers the words but doesn’t sound the greatest. Jacquie is somehow worse than the others as the other contestants just laugh at them. Jennifer brings up the weak vocals and forgotten lyrics. Everyone goes home except Mathenee, who seems to be getting rewarded for just remembering the words. Amy will have to go back to living in a tent and notes she pushed herself for nothing.

The next group is up, with Crystal Duffield, 21, a server from Kent, WA, and Jasmine Antoine, 20, a music teacher from Houston. Both of them forget the words. Jasmine basically just throws her hands up and walks away. This is the point where Randy stops them, and Jennifer asks why they weren’t helping each other out. Jasmine blames nerves and is told even Jennifer and Steven still get nervous. It’s not an excuse. We don’t get to see if they make it or not, but it leads to a rampage of others forgetting their lyrics, some trying to fill the empty space with ohs, heys, and mumbles.