American Idol Hollywood Round 3: fear and illness hit the groups hard

American Idol

is really coming down to the wire now. As last night marked the last episode of Hollywood week, we saw many contestants fold under the pressure -- a pressure which plagued the episode as either stage fright or actual illness. And while the judges managed to stay clear of the contagion, somehow that also meant

Randy Jackson


Jennifer Lopez


Steven Tyler

steered clear of talent too.

The most reality TV'd episode yet, last night was entertaining at points, if anything, to watch how far contestants were managing to fall so late in the audition process. Where last Thursday's dramatic episode saw lots of group in-fighting, this special two-hour episode delivered the goods: We finally got to see the groups sing -- and for a show based on talent and singing, it wasn't exactly worth the wait. As most of the contestants and the 42 groups had some form of air time, the two hours luckily went quick.

The first group, called The Betties, struggled through Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style." Jackson called it like it was, "bleak," but the judges still sent two of the ladies, Jennifer and Carrie (Idol has yet to give either introductory air time) on to the next round.

Another group, Those Girls and That Guy, also struggled -- like quick-let's-watch--The Voice-instead! struggled. Singing "Stuck Like Glue" by Sugarland, the group was quickly eliminated, meaning Alisha Bernhardt, Christian Lopez, Samantha Novacek and two unidentified group members were sent packing.

Thankfully Hollywood 5 lived up to its name, with "Mercy" by Duffy shining under the vocals by Ariel Sprague, Eben Franckewitz, Gabi Carruba, David Leathers, Jr. and Jeremy Rosado. Though young, the group's harmonies work well together, and for once, in the group round, the contestants feel cohesive, like no one is here to upstage the other. As a result, they all go through.

But the bad certainly outweighs the good this episode, as singers faint, get sick -- remember Amy Brumfield, the girl who lived in a tent in the middle of the woods? Yeah, her sickness ends up sending her home -- or suffer from a case of Idol Ego. With 98 pushed through to the second day of Hollywood Round 3, the remaining contestants really had to prove they were worthy to be the next American Idol.

Though there wasn't much time left to highlight everyone, but you can expect to see Phillip Phillips (the name of a true star) and Skylar Laine, whom Steven Tyler said put on one of the day's best performances.

Tonight the contestants have to prove themselves again in groups, but in a new location this time: Las Vegas. American Idol airs tonight at 7 p.m. on Fox 31.

Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music

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