American Idol

So far this season has been essentially a typical one for ‘American Idol.’

Despite the promise of revolutionary and wholesale changes from the producers running into the season, we’ve essentially seen nothing new thus far except for the new judges. Yes, that could be considered a big change, but really it’s been the same nonsense as any previous season – the same type of auditions, the same bickering, and the only real difference being determining whether or not Keith Urban is actually a living human being or a tattoo practice mannequin with a bad wig.

Last night, we saw our first big wrinkle and I’m not sure it worked.

Group night used to be the most “reality” show evening of the entire ‘Idol’ run, a night where having to choose groups, rehearse and the drama inherent with watching a bunch of people who think they’re God’s gift to music actually try to work with a few other people took the show off its feel-good rails for a few hours and finally got down and dirty with the rest of the reality dreck.

In other words, it was just horrible and nasty fun.

Last night, not so much. A steamrolled 120-minutes that saw no ladies, just dudes paired together by the producers and ramrodded through a dozen or so performances before we even realized who had sung what, who got through and if anybody got into a fight backstage.

All that drama was cut for the most part while we focused on singing. None of it very compelling, a lot of it downright bad.

First, it was an a capella round for the individual boys. My favorite (the singing doctor) went out before he got a breath of screen time and a few fan favorites got through. It all happened so fast that I barely caught who was left standing. For a show notorious for stretching time as much as it possibly can, this was like Usain Bolt on bath salts – fast and delirious.

Once that confusion was settled, it seemed like the fighting and bickering about who would be in whose group was about to begin. But what’s this? Nigel Lythgoe is putting the groups together!? Well isn’t that…boring?

This seemed like a perfect opportunity to see the stuttering guy wandering around for a group to join. For the outcast kid to end up without a group. For diva-tastic Papa Peachez to proclaim he doesn’t need a group and attempt to go it alone before getting stuck with the stuttering guy and outcast kid and yelling at them the whole time.

Where was that moment? I wanted that moment! There’s really not much use to Hollywood week besides those moments. A bunch of overtired wannabes stumbling over lyrics to songs everybody’s heard 15,000 times while trying to choreograph a lame dance routine in a hotel lobby bathroom. That’s what we’re supposed to get out of this round.

Instead we just got a whole buncha singing. Endless singing. Performance after performance with little more than Seacrest’s introducing the groups in a quick breeze through fifteen seconds of their rehearsal and then…there they were. Performing. Like this was a singing competition and not a bizarre Thunderdome of emotional breakdowns that made this such a unique and compelling week for this show.

Sure, some of the performances were memorably bad, but not enough to undo the lack of the backstage squabbles that are supposed to define this stage of the just. The whole evening was just lacking without these, like a circle that doesn’t quite come fully rounded – just left feeling utterly incomplete.

I don’t know what other changes the producers have in store for us this season, but so far they 0-for-1.

What did everybody else think of Hollywood Week’s new look?