With contestants dropping like flies, others like Reed Grimm shine in Hollywood

By Kevin O'Donnell
Updated February 15, 2012 11:00 PM
Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Did Simon spike the Coca-Cola?

During Wednesday’s Group Week rounds of American Idol, illness ran rampant among the contestants. And it resulted in an episode that was packed with tears, on-stage fainting and group in-fighting – the only thing that kept the first half of the two-hour episode remotely interesting. Spoilers ahead!

For the first half, contestants Amy Brumfield, Imani Handy and Jacquie Cero struggled with various illnesses. All summoned the strength to perform – though Handy passed out mid-song – but neither managed to sway judges Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez. “If you send me through, I will show you,” Handy pleaded. “I promise you.” She was sent packing.

If the contestants didn’t suffer from illness, they battled lyrical amnesia. Several forgot the words to their songs, although the boldest ones didn’t let it get them down. Crystal Cuffield, for instance, convincingly made up her own words, singing, “And you could be, forgetting all the lyrics, but you’re going to keep on singing because you really want to be here.”

Perhaps the most curious act from Group Week was M.I.T., whose members didn’t see eye-to-eye. Richie Law even returned to the “Confession Room” (what is this – Real World: Hollywood?) to admit he felt his talent was compromised for the sake of the group. As such, their rendition of James Morrison’s “Broken Strings” was completely off. But the judges felt each contestant had enough talent to move to the next round.

Which brings us to the second hour, when the contestants got to shine by performing solo with the Idol band backing them up. Some jaw-dropping talent is already starting to emerge. Joshua Ledet, who admitted to struggling with severe anxiety, delivered a soulful version of Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts.” Adam Brock, armed with his lucky handkerchief, stirred the judges with a rousing run through Ray Charles’s “Georgia on My Mind.” And Skylar Laine (who also went to the hospital due to illness) mustered the strength for a killer take on The Band Perry’s “You Lie.”

“[She] reminds me of Reba McEntire,” Lopez said to Tyler.

But it’s Reed Grimm who may prove to be this season’s dark horse. A gangly, lovably quirky nerd, he initially hoped to sing a cappella, but when producers told him he had to perform with the band, he rushed to prepare a new tune. He didn’t seem fazed by the pressure – and even performed his cover of Charles’s “Georgia” while playing the drums.

Whatever he’s drinking, give him more of it.