American Idol delivers hypochondria and inharmony

American Idol recap: The arduous American Idol group rounds began with too many ailments and too little singing.

Matt Sayles / AP Photo
American Idol host Ryan Seacrest at the Golden Globe Awards last month in Los Angeles, Calif. Thursday night's group round delivered drama but little singing.

Thursday's American Idol episode started off on a positive note when viewers soon learned that Symone Black didn't sustain any injuries from her swan dive off of the stage on Wednesday night.  After getting treated at the emergency room for dehydration, Symone explained to the cameras that because of that, she needed to eat more.  Hmm, maybe they should have kept her for evaluation?  Thankfully her father was there to care for her and to completely embarrass her by initiating a group hug with Symone's newly found singing partners.

With things looking up for Symone, many other American Idol contestants spiraled into despair. Group performance episodes are always drama filled as would-be divas are forced to work with other performers. But this season a mysterious Idol bug brought an added layer of tension. Amy Brumfield, the homeless girl from Savannah, was the first to come down with the illness and it certainly didn't make finding a group any easier, especially since she complained to anyone who would listen.

Alisha Bernhardt also struggled to make a group connection.  Before recruiting Amy, the pariah of the auditions, Alisha had surmised that people didn't want to pair up with her because she is a cop.  That's right, Alisha, it has nothing to do with your overbearing personality or dogged refusal to even consider a song other than, "Joy to the World."  It would seem that Jeremiah the bullfrog was very special to Alisha, who got so angry when someone referred to it as a Christmas song, she had to walk away to avoid getting into a fight.

In her absence, her momentary partner Amy Brumfield, took the opportunity to upgrade from Jeremiah to "More Than A Feeling," forcing Alisha to abandon her dreams of bullfrogs and assimilate into an alternate group.

Philip Phillips was also having a difficult night both in terms of health and his group.  Phillip, unique even in his diagnosis, did not succumb to the cliche Idol bug but instead had to retreat to his room to pass a kidney stone. we're told.  Heejun Han was probably wishing he had the same excuse so he could avoid the "freakin' cowboy," Richie Law who was quickly becoming the most obnoxious guy in the group, perhaps even the episode. 

Richie touted his musical theory experience and box moves as he tried to convince the others to embrace his harmony and chords.  Unfortunately, as the name implies, musical theory is just that, theory.  In practice, Richie seemed unable to recognize that his efforts were polarizing his group. 

Because Ameican Idol has embraced hour-long episodes for the entire season save for the premiere, viewers eventually realized that time was quickly running out, not just for the contestants preparing, but also for the episode, which ended just as the first group, "The Betties," was taking the stage.  It was an odd way to end the show, but perhaps producer Nigel Lythgoe, who recently blamed the 20 percent decline in ratings since the premiere on "viewer fatigue," was concerned that a two-hour episode would only further burn out viewers of the already saturated singing-competition market ("The Voice" opened its second season Sunday night).

Over-saturated as it may be, when viewers tune into American Idol they are tuning in to watch a singing competition – not an episode of Grey's Anatomy.  To air an entire episode void of any actual competition and little singing is taking a risk, especially when rival show "The Voice," spends only a fraction of their air time on contestant drama. 

Wise or not, Thursday's American Idol was an episode about ailments brought to you by a show that's struggling through a few of its own.

What did you think?  Did Thursday's Idol leave you breathless for more or were you left wishing you'd caught the new episode of "The Vampire Diaries?"

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