Frederick M. Brown/Getty(2)
Steve Helling
February 13, 2013 11:00 PM

Imagine the Supremes, the Go-Gos, TLC and Destiny’s Child. Now imagine them in the Hunger Games arena.

Yes, it was the dreaded group round on Wednesday’s American Idol. The remaining 76 female contestants were shoehorned into 19 awkward quartets, each of which seemed to consist of three normal girls and one who acted crazier than Kathy Bates in Misery. Hide your hammers!

Before all that drama, nearly 200 contestants were put through a brutal round of cuts. The show lost Megan Miller, the Miss Baton Rouge who auditioned on crutches, when she was cut after a solid but unspectacular performance. But perhaps the most surprising elimination was Mariah Pulice, the talented Illinois contestant who had recently successfully battled anorexia.

“There’s a plan for everything,” she said through tears. “This just wasn’t it.”

Inexplicably, both Zoanette Johnson and Kez Ban advanced, perhaps because they could be counted on to bring the drama.

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Still, the night produced some standout quartets: The Swagettes, consisting of Candice Glover, Kamaria Ousley, Melinda Ademi and Denise Jackson were drama free, choosing a song quickly and practicing without incident. (They even went to bed early.) Singing Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style,” each of the four had strong performances and easily advanced to the next round.

They were followed by Raisin’ Cain, a quartet of country girls who sang the Dixie Chick’s “Sin Wagon.” Again, all four advanced.

And just as viewers began to worry that group night would be boring, we met a group that thought it would be a good idea to name themselves The Dramatics. Singer Janel Stinney spent the rehearsal time crying about something that wasn’t quite clear – or particularly interesting. Perhaps she would have been better served had she spent the time learning the lyrics.

“You didn’t sing one word,” said Nicki Minaj, who still voted them all through. “I enjoyed you guys messing up the words more than I have enjoyed any other performance today.”

Larger than life contestant Zoanette Johnson and her group, the Pooh Snaps, performed a rocky version of the disco classic “Knock on Wood.” Somehow, Johnson advanced again, despite the fact that she didn’t hit even one note correctly. (Are we being Punk’d? Every time she sings, I wonder if Ashton Kutcher is going to show up in a trucker hat.)

At the end of Thursday’s show (8 p.m. ET), there will be 40 contestants left – 20 guys and 20 girls. With the judges predicting a female will win this season, one can’t help but wonder whom they have in mind.

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