After a grueling Hollywood week, it's time for the remaining 61 finalists to hit the road for Idol's first-ever road trip. But, obviously, it's not all fun and gambling in Sin City. The contestants must learn a Beatles song in just 24 hours and perform in either pairs or trios.
The singers are seen picking Beatles song from a box and each combination gets a vocal coach to help them arrange their choice. Unfortunately for Thia Megia and Melinda Ademi, they get the so-called "vocal coach from hell" in Peggi Blu. She actually tells the young girls: "You're going to die on stage in front of all those people." Just slap a black too-tight turtleneck on her and call her Simon.
New music mentor Jimmy Iovine makes his first appearance on the show as he makes impromptu visits with a team of music producers to see the groups as they rehearse. He offers pretty harsh critiques, especially to Denise Jackson, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, whom he thinks have picked the wrong song. So how did Denise, Scotty and Lauren do?
Let's find out:
James Durbin, 21, and Stefano Langone, 21, are a natural duo on "Get Back." It's a strong song choice for both of their rocker-inclined musical styles. The song is a great showcase for Durbin especially, who nails the final high notes. Randy says it started off slow but they got it together and calls the performance "insane."
Karen Rodriguez, 21, and Pia Toscano, 22, reveal they went to the same performing arts school and used to be in a group together, so they have a definite advantage. Their lively interpretation of "Can't Buy Me Love" is a fresh take and they do well to balance each other. Steven congratulates them for jumping off and running into the field. Where have the producers been hiding Pia all this time?
Haley Reinhart, 20, Jacob Lusk, 23, and Naima Adedapo, 26, perform "The Long and Winding Road." Haley gives the song soul, but Naima is lacking something in this performance. Jacob is the worst offender, though. After Jimmy warned him the night before about being careful not to use his firepower all the time, Jacob starts oversinging towards the end of the performance and the song gets lost in his vocals. Steven says the song was "stupendous." Randy tells Jacob to put the pedal down and not to hold back. Oh, brother.
Lauren Turner, 24, is only shown singing "Let it Be" briefly, but she appears to nail the iconic song and leaves her partner in the dust.
Tim Halperin, 23, and Julie Zorrilla, 20, make for one of the most impressive pairs of the night on the ballad "Something." They perform on dueling keyboards for the first verse and demonstrate strong chemistry and presence vocally as well as instrumentally.
Lakeisha Lewis, 23, definitely takes the lead on "I Saw Her Standing There," and rightly so. Jerome Bell, 27, is good, but TaTynisa Wilson, 20, has a hard time grabbing the spotlight and their harmonies don't blend as well as they should. J. Lo tells TaTynisa she didn't have it today, but Steven thought Jerome nailed it.
Paul McDonald, 25, and Kendra Chantelle, 22, give one of the most standout and unusual performances with "Blackbird." Kendra's vocals start off sultry — a nice contrast to Paul's more understated performance. The two have nice chemistry on stage and the acoustic guitar really showcases their strong suits. Steven says Paul's voice was great. Randy says the performance showed the uniqueness in both of their voices.
Now it's time for another extraneous Ashley Sullivan montage, yeah! Rather than spend her precious time in Las Vegas practicing, Ashley has decided to tie the knot with her boyfriend. The cameras follow her as she hunts for the perfect white ensemble. The verdict? A white pleather top instead of a sequined white velour jumpsuit. Ashley is getting married at the same place Britney Spears got married because Britney is her hero (and because that quickie wedding went so well, yes?). In the limo on the way to the chapel, Ashley threatens to kill her boyfriend in his sleep if he backs out of the ceremony. They go through with it, poor guy.
Two of the youngest performers, Thia Megia, 15, and Melinda Ademi, 16, start day 2 off with some sunshine and "Here Comes the Sun." The two hit all the right notes, but despite their vocal coach from hell, it's just short of great. Randy says Melinda's performance started out shaky and Steven says Thia was just "Ok" today. Hopefully, their vocal coach doesn't have access backstage.
Ashley Sullivan, 24, and Sophia Shorai's, 28, duet of "We Can Work It Out" is one of the lowlights on the evening. Ashley is lacking focus and it sounds way too karaoke and not nearly Idol enough. Her vocals overshadow Sophia's and she ends up bringing them both down. "Not hot today," Randy says.
After Jimmy's harsh critique, Lauren Alaina, 15, Scotty McCreery, 17, and Denise Jackson, 20, have changed their tune, literally, to "Hello, Goodbye." This song still has flaws, but it at least allows room for Scotty's deep voice (an octave higher tonight) to harmonize well with Denise and Lauren. The judges still don't think the song was the best showcase for them and the trio also catches a little flak for their erratic movements around the stage.
Casey Abrams, 19, and Chris Medina, 27, perform "A Hard Day's Night" and give the judges a big performance, including jumping off the piano and fun with fedoras. Even with their trusty guitars, their vocals have been better in past performances and their closing harmony falls completely flat. The judges call their performance "crazy."
Robbie Rosen, 16, Aaron Sanders, 26, and Jordan Dorsey, 21, reunite from the group round to make one of the more seamless trios of the evening with "Got to Get You into My Life." Their harmonies are perfect and there's enough room for each guy to show off his individual talents. The judges say Jordan fell short of expectations, but J. Lo compliments Aaron and Steven says Robbie "nailed it."
And the cuts begin as the Idol bus prepares to head back to Los Angeles. Among those staying in the competition: Thia Megia, Scotty McCreery, Jordan Dorsey, Robbie Rosen, Lauren Alaina and Jacob Lucas.
Those leaving the stage for good include Carson Higgins, Caleb Hawley, Molly DeWolf, Denise Jackson, Melinda Ademi and new bride Ashley Sullivan who is — surprisingly — not crying and at peace with how far she's come (as she should be).
And now it's time for the green mile:
Naima Adedapo performs Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On" and she starts weeping as soon as she gets in the chair. J. Lo says she hasn't been the most consistent, but Steven tells her she's in it for the long haul and that she's made it through. "You're a flower, now bloom," he says.
Hollie Cavanagh sings "No One" and you can see the progress since her first audition. The judges tell her she didn't make it, but J. Lo says she was outvoted. In a year or two, she thinks Hollie could win the whole thing. The camera shows Hollie's entire tearful walk back and J. Lo can be heard in the background loudly grunting with frustration.
Lakeisha Lewis and Alex Ryan are also out.
Clint Jun Gamboa performs "Hello" for his final tune. After interrogating him about kicking Jaycee out of his group, Randy explains that the judges looked at his entire journey and that he will be going forward. He flips out and does a little dance.
Haley Reinhart picks "Baby I Need Your Loving" as her last song. Despite her poor performance in the group round, the judges are quick to tell her she is going through to the next round.
Deandre Brackensick was close, according to Randy, but didn't quite show the judges everything he needed and won't go through. J. Lo says he has a "magic little voice" and urges him to come back.
Paul McDonald chooses to debut an original song for his last tune. J. Lo and Randy both talk about how different Paul is from the rest of the contestants and Steven says that quirkiness may be enough to make him a star. He's through to the next round.
Ashthon Jones takes on "I Want to Dance with Somebody" before the final decision. J. Lo says she's been one of the most consistent singers and that her confidence has gotten her through to the next round.
Chris Medina says no matter what happens, he's happy with what he's done and delivers a stirring rendition of "Fix You" by Coldplay. J. Lo says she feels grateful to have met him, but that he's had some good moments and some bad moments. She says it breaks her heart, but he didn't make it through. Well, now that explains J. Lo's much-ballyhooed emotional breakdown. She starts sobbing because she doesn't feel she told him in the right way, but both Randy and Steven assure her she did. The episode ends with J. Lo struggling to keep it together and saying she doesn't want to do this anymore.
Were you expecting Chris to go home? Which exits surprised you the most? And who else are you hoping makes it to the top 24? Sound off with your thoughts, critiques and tearful confessions in the comments below.