American Idol group auditions: Jaycee Badeaux and other teens shine

American Idol's group auditions are a grueling test of character as much as talent. But the 15 and 16-year-olds, including Jaycee Badeaux, prove that they have staying power.

Michael Becker
American Idol judges, from left, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson are shown during Hollywood Week in Pasedena, Calif.

American Idol's group auditions always prove to be difficult and dramatic for the contestants, who are forced to form groups and rely on perfect strangers to help deliver a performance that will propel them into the next phase of the competition. And while group week has never seemed particularly relevant to Idol's "looking for that solo star" format, Idol knows that drama makes good television.

The interesting thing about the group auditions is that they seldom showcase a contestant's talents as much as they showcase their character. This always seems to be forgotten by the contestants as they fret over harmony, song choice, and group dynamics. Meanwhile, many contestants atrophy into some of the most villainous, self-centered individuals on reality television. Quite a feat, to be sure.

But Group Week is also the great equalizer and viewers are forced to bid adieu to some of their favorites and not-so favorites.

Rob Bolin, the "rob" in "Cherob," couldn't seem to pull himself together this week. The misery of being in a group with his ex-girlfriend and the rather annoying Jacqueline Dunford, got the better of him and he completely botched his audition, failing to remember even one line of the group song. A tragic end to a voice that had so much potential.

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Tiffany Rios certainly didn't do herself any favors when she announced during her solo audition that she was tired of seeing people try to do what she knows she can do. Somehow, even after dissing every other contestant, she still believed that she would be a hot commodity where groups were concerned. Needless to say, she was mistaken. It seemed no one wanted to work with the Snooki wannabe from Jersey. No one, that is, except for Jessica Yantz who for some reason allowed herself to be lured away from The Sugar Mamas group by Tiffany. When the two of them couldn't find another willing victim, American Idol producers bent the rules and allowed them to perform the first-ever duet (the minimum group size is three). It was hard to determine which of the two was worse so the judges sent them both packing.

This next sentence is typed with a very heavy heart.

Emily Anne Reed didn't survive group week. To add insult to injury, Idol also denied viewers a chance to hear her unique and fabulous voice one last time; They didn't even air her performance (which must mean that Paul McDonald was in her group.) Her talent will be missed.

But several favorites persevered group week.

Country boy Scotty McCreery, though making it through, took an unfortunate nosedive in the character department this week. After completely ignoring Brett Loewenstern, who attempted to recruit him by singing, Scotty ends up in a group with karaoke bar host Clint Jun Gamboa and young Jaycee Badeaux among others. But as the night progresses, the group (seemingly at bespectacled Clint's suggestion) dismisses 15-year-old Jaycee and he is left to search for acceptance from others while fighting back tears. Fortunately for Scotty, he and his group are able to deliver one of the strongest performances of the night and they all make it through. But will the stigma of being part of the group who kicked off America's sweetheart, Jaycee Badeaux, be forgotten?

Jaycee ultimately gets his happy ending alongside Brett Loewenstern, as their entire group makes the cut.

Another group that really excels is The MInors, comprised of exactly that. This ensemble of 15- and 16-year-olds turns out the most enthusiastically received performance of the night. James Durbin payed these "minor" contestants major attention as he continuously griped about it being unfair that they were receiving help from their mothers. Despite this immature behavior, Durbin made it through with yet another of his screeches. Seriously, this is only the third Idol episode he's been in and his performances are utterly predictable. It's doubtful how much further screaming will get him in the competition.

Time to recap this Idol watcher's previous predictions:

Naima Adedapo: Check.

Chris Medina: Check.

Paul McDonald: It's anyone's guess really . . . but for those who DVR'd the episode check at 1:14, is that Paul smiling in the crowd??

Lauren Alaina: Check.

Casey Abrams: Check.

Brett Loewenstern: Check.

Emily Anne Reed: Gone . . . (the ellipses are for a mandatory moment of silence)

James Durbin: Check.

6.5 out of 8. You'll notice that Paul's continued absence has resulted in a .3 deduction from this score but let's keep him in the running for one more episode.

This week, Ashthon Jones, definitely earned her place on the list. (In fact, she will be taking James Durbin's slot going forward.) Her group performance was excellent, despite the antics of Ashley Sullivan, this seasons' Tatiana del Toro, who quit and rejoined the show (and group) all in one night.

Who do you think should be added to the list? Post your suggestions in the comments section.

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