The highlight—or lowlight, depending on how much you like train wrecks—of American Idol's Hollywood Week is always the group round.
This year was no exception, with Wednesday's episode showcasing the good, the bad and the downright ugly after the remaining hopefuls were portioned into groups by the producers (at least no one had to go through the embarrassment of being denied by their peers) and given one night to get their acts together.
For instance, as night one of the round kicked off with all-male groups, we were charmed to see the return of handsome Johnny Keyser, who seemed destined for top-12 stardom last year but never made it out of the group round.
The delight quickly turned to discomfort, however, once it became clear that his group—which was muffing the lyrics right and left to the Four Tops' "Reach Out"—wasn't being touted for the highlight reel.
Mariah Carey gamely applauded when they were done and Nicki Minaj looked as if she wished there was a big handle she could pull to send Johnny & Co. dropping through a trapdoor, but somehow, most of them survived to sing another day.
"Stop, stop, stop!" pleaded Randy Jackson at one point. "Hang up the damn phone!"
Much easier greenlights were given to the likes of Nick Boddington, Mathenee Treco, Matheus Fernandes, Gabe Brown, Curtis Fitch Jr, Nick Mathis, Charlie Askew, Burnell Taylor and Tony Foster Jr.
Then there were the ungracious fellows who pointed to all the time they spent teaching harmonies to Lazaro Arbos (who shows no trace of his severe stutter when he sings) as an excuse as to why they couldn't remember the lyrics to the Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice."
Oh, but guess what? Lazaro and Christian Lopez got to stay while the other blame-gamers were sent packing.
"I feel like I helped out this person who ended up taking the spot that I wanted," lamented the still-ungracious Joshua Stephens as he walked off into the sunset—but not before telling Lazaro, "If anything, you might as well be going. We spent so much time perfecting what you needed to be doing, so, I mean, congratulations."
Words also proved to be too much for the "More Than Words" group consisting of oddball quartet Lee Pritchard, JDA, Joel Wayman and Trevor Blakney, but JDA and Joel squeaked by.
Lastly, it was also a treat to welcome now-18-year-old David Leathers Jr. back to the party, the teen having pulled the short stick last year when it came down to him and one other for the last spot in the top 24.
He and fellow teen Sanni M'Mairura moved forward after a rough go with Billy Joel's "The Longest Time," but it was the end of the road for Kevin Quinn and Kayden Stephenson, the adorable 16-year-old who's doing his best to power through with cystic fibrosis.