'American Idol' recap: Contagion

american-idol-season-11.jpgWelcoming us to the second round of Hollywood Week, Ryan tells us that dreams came crashing down last night. Well, and one human being, too, but we'll get to that after the credits.

Speaking of that, there's the whole replay from last night of Symone Black staggering clean off the stage, only not at all cleanly, and we rejoin that moment of crisis still in progress. Symone eventually wakes up with crowds of worried people around her, and Jennifer at least has finally been arsed to get down off the judge's dais. Symone is delivered an emergency Coke (refreshing and ideal for medical emergencies -- now that's product placement) and eventually guided out of the theater with her dad, under her own steam. Now we go back a bit further, recalling other members of this group who sang last night, like Lauren Mink. and Jeremy Rosado. We also catch up with Ethan Jones, the kid whose dad is in rehab. I'm glad to see his forehead has stopped bleeding. While Symone is bundled into a nondescript white molester van and not an ambulance at all, Steven asks Lauren, Ethan, and another young woman to step forward. They're leaving, but it took the judges so long to get around to telling them that Symone's already at the hospital, at least according to the editing. So Jeremy's still in it. Ethan and Lauren, on the other hand, are philosophical about what they're going home to. Which is good, because they're going there, like, right now. Still, there are 185 people who survived the first round, all of whom seem pretty happy about it. But that's just for now, because according to the preview for the rest of the episode, Symone seems to have started a trend. And they don't even know if it worked yet.

At 8:20, there's a party going on inside the audition hall, with singing and dancing among the 185 survivors. Of course, half of them will be gone tomorrow, but for now they're on a high. Ryan gives an intro of the group round with a whole video montage mishmash of past seasons' drama, with the screen labeled "Past Seasons" so we know it's from past seasons. This season, the party's over at 8:30, and everyone is herded into the auditorium to hear the rules from producer Ken Warwick: they have to form groups of four or five, and each group has to include members from both days of the first Hollywood round. Which, as Ryan says, is quite a bombshell for lots of people who only bonded with people who auditioned the same day and already formed groups. Sucks to be on American Idol, dude. One of the people who has trouble finding a group to join is Alisha Bernhardt, a police officer from the St. Louis auditions. But with her magnetic personality, and pleasant demeanor, and adamant insistence on singing either "Joy to the World" or "Stuck Like Glue," I'm sure she won't be on her own for long. Also out in the cold for now is full-time tent-dweller Amy Brumfield, and Ryan can't resist saying she can't "find a home," a rather tacky callback to her living situation. And? She has the flu, so nobody wants to be in a group with her for fear of getting sick. One pathetic twosome gets onstage and hollers out for takers to sing "More than a Feeling" with them. Amy Brumfield, meanwhile, is sitting on a chair in the wings and feeling desperate for fresh air, after all this time being inside. I would have thought she'd had enough fresh air for a lifetime.

Alisha finally finds another competitor to join with, which, given her charm, is quite a feat. Although it's possible the scraggly-looking little loser is just afraid she'll beat him up. Heejun and country-baritone Richie Law end up throwing in with Phillip Phillips and Jaron Jackson (who still needs a haircut) to sing "Broken Strings" under the group name MIT, although none of them seem to think it's ideal. And poor Amy Brumfield is stuck having to go to Alisha to join her sad little group. Alisha thinks she might have found someone to sing "Joy to the World" with her, Amy, and Scraggly, but when she sings the first "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" line of the Three Dog Night song, the other girl is like, "Oh, no," and stomps off. Alisha assures us she's used to people running from her, but the other girl, Brianna Bell, is working the room, not satisfied with anything or anyone she encounters. In fact, "oh, no" quickly becomes her catchphrase. Other groups are already starting to rehearse together out in the hall. The "More than a Feeling" group tries to recruit Alisha's group, only to piss her off about not wanting to sing a "Christmas song." Now it's Alisha's turn to get pissed off and stomp away, which is a very unwise move, because by the time she gets back, Amy and Scraggly have signed up with the "More than a Feeling" duo. Thus is Hollywood Week proven to be a recipe for drama for uptight *******s who can't get along with anyone. Alone again, she starts hollering for people to sing "Joy to the World" with her. Jeez, lady, suck it up. You have the whole competition to sing exactly the song you want, unless you go home tomorrow.