American Idol Hollywood Week, Day 2 Recap: Don't Speak During Hell Week

Photo: Michael Becker/FOX.
The rule book for surviving Idol’s notoriously trainwreck-ish Hollywood Week Group Round has stayed relatively consistent over the years. Get some sleep (but like, only an hour, tops), remember your lines (or don’t, see if the judges care), be kind (unless you’re dealing with heinous bitches), and SING, damnit! Sing like you’re Harry Connick Jr. at a classy, piano-driven campfire already! Do you want the greatest honor in the world or not?!

But much like a Keith Urban power ballad, all great tomes must evolve. Below, some final additions to the unofficial Group Round Guidelines as season 15 continues its slow burn to the April 7 finish line.

Go to the bathroom. Don’t be self-conscious. The acoustics in there are amazing, and what better way to bond with strangers than crammed together into a single stall? I’m pretty sure I could watch my favorite yellow-fro’ed alien Jenn Blosil huddle near the can cooing at her new “close-knit community” all day. She’s just that quirky and likable!

Get mono. Once Trent Harmon found out over the phone that he’d caught the ultimate “you be you” virus, the 25-year-old soul-singing waiter got the thumbs up from production to perform alone in order to protect the other contestants…from his multiple-personality awesomeness! Sometimes all you need to stand out is a communicable disease and a cowboy hat. And as J.Lo pointed out, Phillip Phillips made it through half of season 11 with “like, kidney stones or something. It’s not like it can’t be done.”

Prompt J.Lo to dive deep into her ego. “You’re not looking at me,” she snapped at a trio of average male performers who obviously didn’t have their priorities straight. One girl group’s utter lack of camaraderie reminded her that the reason she’s still so successful is that people love to work with her. And after a group called “Good Vibes” delivered “Me and My Broken Heart” with neither energy nor a game plan, Jenny really took that one to heart. “I cannot be bad out there. If I fall flat on my ass, I bounce right back up and kill the rest of that performance!” Mind you, all of the contestants who followed this guideline Thursday night were promptly sent home. But I think we can all agree that the important thing here is J.Lo’s sense of validation, which she shares for mere millions of dollars. Her self-love is like a glorious, gluten-free chocolate syrup waterfall, nourishing us every few moments as we wonder, How do I live?

Find your tribe. The monster-voiced La’Porsha Renae parted amicably with the rest of her original foursome to join up with Tonie Starr and Marlena Johnson, who were in danger of being eliminated after Shelbie Z, the strong-willed hairdresser, ditched them. And this was after someone else in La’Porsha’s foursome debated a switch and decided against it! “I couldn’t get those girls out of my head,” said the single mom. “My heart was just pullin’.” I’ve got to start using that expression for everything. Love, heartbreak, dessert, Seacrest getting licked by random contestants’ dogs, etc. Anything that matters.
Photo: Michael Becker/FOX.
Lose your voice. It’s all good. Unless you suck, of course. After their conscious un-heartpullin’ with La’Porsha, her former teammates Manny Torres, Malie Delgado, and Christian Eason stayed up all night learning a new song, then anointed themselves with a new name: Rebirth. Finally, some drama! Malie could barely croak out the lyrics to “Too Close,” but her spirit was strong, thanks in no small part, I gathered, to Christian’s expertise: He’s a cheerleading coach! (!!!!!!) “Sometimes I love when losing the voice happens,” J.Lo gushed, thinking of that one time she…

Collaborate and stand out at the same time. Actually, screw teamwork. It’s great if you've napped and have extra time to finesse a group vibe, but if it’s 6 a.m. and you’re mid-meltdown, you’ve gotta just look out for No. 1. "Throw everyone else to the ground," Idol mentor Scott Borchetta advised the hopefuls. “Understand that it’s all about you.” Later on, big personality Joy Dove lost major points from Harry after she ceded the spotlight to Lindita (just the one name, must be a star) for a minute-long power run at the end of “Domino.”

Let your stage mom do the talking. “We need to change the song,” a bossy matriarch with an alto-voiced daughter warned a soprano diva terror squad, who promptly stared her down and walked away, their sheer disgust audible only to certain canines and Harry’s finger monkey. That’s how Anatalia Villaranda managed to drop out of the group Envy to join Dalton Rapattoni and Kassy Levels in a group inexplicably named Chicken Noodle Soup. Bonus: More camera time for all these folks, because our hearts were pullin’ for DRAMA and Thursday boasted nowhere near enough.

Don’t speak. She may have wailed well enough in standout group Envy, the trio that shunned Anatalia as a matter of self-preservation, but Sonika Vaid won’t win any new followers with her raging case of snowflake syndrome. “We are all so special and individualistic that we’re all gonna stand out,” she offered in an interview instead of following group mates Stephany and Andrew’s leads by telling the real story with their eyes. (“Sorry not sorry that aggressive mom was a nightmare.”) Cheers to Idol music director Michael Orland for bookending Sonika’s commentary with the bitter truth during their morning rehearsal: “You all look like background singers that came to the front by accident.”

Know that this isn’t the end of the road for you, Dawg. After burrowing in her headphones all night and referring to her group mates as backup singers, Eliz Camacho wasn’t about to let a measly American Idol elimination stop her from dominating the pop culture scene at large. “I’m also a model, so I can’t just put a cap on it. That wouldn’t be fair to the other talents that I have.”

Oh, to be young and delusional again! How I envy these lunatics. See you next week!

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