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American Idol’s Steven Tyler Explains Group Round

Posted by on February 18, 2011 at 4:12 PM EST

steven tyler idolAmerican Idol Group Round aired on Wednesday night as we saw some season favorites head home.

There are times in the past seasons of American Idol where I have wondered why they even have the group round of the show. They are looking for a solo singer not a group. It made very little sense to me that they would judge them as a group. That is, until last night, when Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson explained it.

This season of American Idol has been different. The producers are cutting down the amount of time it takes to go from the 200 or so that made it to Hollywood down to the final 20 or so that will move on to where America gets to vote for them. They understand that we don’t want to spend a month watching a long drawn out process with many unfamiliar faces. With this new, faster format, it occurred to me that the group round really has nothing to do with the group. Both Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler explained it last night. They are looking at the group performance, but they are mostly looking at how the singers do as individuals and if they can stand out in the group.

To me how well they stand out in the group is the second most important thing they are looking for. Mostly, it seems, they are putting the contestants through the group round to see if they can hack it. If you are going to be a major music star the demands on you will be infinite. You will often be called up to learn songs (or possibly choreography) quickly. You will have to be able to go through times where you get very little sleep and have a lot of pressure and you still have to go out there and put on a great performance.

That is what the American Idol group round is about. Can the contestants stay up half the night and learn a song then go on stage tired, worn out and nervous, and compose themselves so they can put on a great performance? When you are at the end of your rope, can you still shine? The show is called American Idol, not American Singer Who Does Well Whenever He or She Feels Like It.

Last night we watched some contestants shine. They took the pressure and used it to create a diamond and really did well. Others fell flat and found themselves going home.  We saw some that we have gotten to know over these first weeks see their dreams come to an end and others figure out a way to pull it together and put their best foot forward. Some, literally, pulled themselves up from the brink if disaster and found a way to put their best foot forward.

There were a lot of tears, some drama and plenty of second guessing, but when it was over the judges –  and we the viewers – found out who had what it takes to pull through something like that and who doesn’t.

The new format of American Idol shows the group round for what it is – a pressure cooker. Now I see why they do it and I enjoyed watching it all go down.



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