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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 30 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

American Idol XIV: Hollywood Week #2

Our writer and Idol expert, Andrew Rogers is back this season covering the popular FOX reality show, “American Idol“. The pressure is on and the stakes are high as the musical competition searches for a real superstar in its fourteenth year. With weekly recaps discussing the contestants’ performances and choices, Rogers looks ahead at what’s in-store each week in his exclusive Idol recap series.

After last night’s cliffhanger with Gaby Z’s mind blank, I can’t say I expected tonight’s episode to start the way it did–-with Harry taking Gaby aside backstage and telling her to just breath and come back when she was ready. In years past, the judges would have cut Gaby instantly for fumbling over her words, but it’s nice to see some compassion and humanity on the judges panel this year. When Gaby returned, a round or so later, she delivered the song as well as she seemed to be doing the first time and moved on.

Now let’s talk about some of the other high points of the show—who made an impression during the jumble of performances we saw tonight?

Rayvon Owen singing “Ordinary People” (John Legend) – Rayvon’s performances are beyond effortless and reminiscent of John Legend’s, so I was glad he chose this song. He has such a beautiful ease, whether he’s at the top of his range or near the very bottom and that makes him a very pleasant competitor to watch. I don’t think much will phase this guy so I hope he’ll survive the group rounds and make it into the Top 24.

Clark Beckham singing “Let’s Get It On” (Marvin Gaye) – Clark was a bit of a floater for me after his audition, but the soul and vocal power that he showed during this performance made me stop and take notice. He seems more interesting than the average guy with an acoustic guitar on the show, so I’ll be interested to see if his combination of talent and good looks will take him anywhere.

Qaasim Middleton singing “Give Me Love” (Ed Sheeran) – I like Ed Sheeran, but I’m so sick of young teenage boys on Idol defaulting to singing his stuff, but Qaasim was the last person on Earth I expected to sing this song and the way he did it was almost haunting. I loved watching him push through the words and inject the melody with a few of his own chords. If he could do that with a few other current hits, he could be an interesting competitor.

[Credit: FOX Entertainment]

“Team Dimples” (Jaq Mackenzie, Michael Simeon, Nick Fradiani and Hunter Larson) – By far the best group performance we saw was this one. I’ve already expressed a fondness for Jaq’s Paramore-esque tone and Hunter’s Pink-esque tone, but Michael (who I had reservations about after his audition) and Nick (who never really did anything for me) impressed me too. The group chose a good song: Magic’s “Rude” and put a bit of a different spin on it that showcased all their voices. Take note future Idol contestants, that’s how it’s done in group round.

Besides those performances, which were the most memorable for me, we saw a few stumbles by frontrunners. Tyanna Jones and Reno Anoa’i’s group, “The Dream Team”, seemed to have a hard time with the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, while Clark Beckham, Shi Scott and Ron “Big Sexy” Wilson’s groups seemed to forgot the words during their performances. The group round, for me, is a very tense time in the competition and I try not to judge anyone too harshly on it, or give anyone too much credit for a decent performance unless it’s really phenomenal—as recent finalists Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Candice Glover’s were. Maybe that’s saying something…

Either way, I want your take on the final individual performances and the group round before next week, where we’ll see more and hopefully a few more big moments. See you next Thursday and Friday morning at 11AM EST for my recaps!

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