The notoriously difficult night takes a toll on contestants hoping to be solo stars

By Dahvi Shira
Updated February 15, 2012 08:00 PM
Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Ryan Seacrest calls the group round on American Idol “the most infamous night in Hollywood Week.” That may be because it’s the most challenging.

Last week, the 185 remaining contestants were asked to form teams of four or five, pick a song from a list of 20 and come up with a performance, choreography included, all in one night. On Wednesday, they’ll take the stage before the judges in hopes of making it to the next round.

The group numbers are notoriously difficult for the contestants, who often perform them under extreme pressure on very little sleep with virtual strangers. Even the Idol website asks, “Who will still be standing after the carnage of Hollywood Week group round?”

With exhausted contestants fighting, falling ill and off the stage, the group round creates drama, but is it fair? After all, unlike The Voice or The X Factor, Idol does not allow duos, trios and groups to compete for the big prize. So, why are these singers asked to create harmonies, dance routines and perform them together on the Idol stage?

Seacrest and the judges may say it’s a test to see if a potential superstar has what it takes to stand the pressure of the spotlight. Others may say it’s all about making dramatic TV – regardless of the toll it takes on talented singers.