For the vast majority of every "American Idol" season, singers do a passable job of being civil to each other. But there's one episode where the expletives fly and contestants don't even pretend to get along. That's the night that the competitors relive high school by picking teams and then yelling and backstabbing each other instead of doing their homework. Welcome to Group Night.
She puts the ‘m’ and the ‘e’ in ‘team’: Tatiana Del Toro, the San Francisco auditioner with a laugh as infectious as Ebola, couldn't decide what to do with herself. She tried to bail on her group, then ran back to her original one 10 minutes later, managing to annoy two different groups at the same time. "This is not a game for me," she said. "I have been to hell and back to be here." The editors sure made it look as if she brought a little bit of that hell back to torment her teammates with, though ultimately all advanced.
Team Trainwreck: Nathaniel Marshall, Nancy Wilson and Kristen McNamara called themselves "Team Compromise." Holy inappropriate, Batman! The trio fought their entire time on camera, particularly when Kristen wanted to rest her voice while Nancy wanted to work. Making peace between the two women was too complicated for Nathaniel, who soon melted down. Maybe "Team We Hate Each Other" had already been taken? Simon accused them of intentionally blowing the background vocals to Duffy's "Mercy" to make each other look bad, but Nathaniel and Kristin made it through anyway. Nancy got sent home and gave the censors practice at bleeping out some expletives.
Next stop, ‘Girls Gone Wild’: Kristina Darrell, a.k.a. Bikini Girl, was a part of Team Diva. How appropriate. But Kara DioGuardi's nemesis finally found herself in way over her head, quitting on her group to go to bed early, sleeping late, and then complaining that she had been tired from being in high heels for so long and had scoliosis and didn't get much sleep anyway and the dog ate her homework. "I guarantee you lot did not work together last night," Simon said. But DioGuardi got the last laugh, as she was the judge who got to tell Darrell that she and her bikini were getting the boot.
Feel the hate: Rose Flack wasn't surprised that her team struggled, and she joined Darrell as a Diva out the door. Before going onstage, she ruefully predicted "We're gonna be that group that gets up there and is just an absolute train wreck. I knew that from the beginning." On her way out, she didn't mince words about what she thought of her teammates. "I hated my group so much. I hated them so much," she said.
PaulaIsEvil.com: Ryan Pinkston was one of two members of his group to get the boot, and he didn't quite understand what happened. "I feel manipulated and assaulted," he said. "I feel like I saw a side of Paula I didn't know was there. I saw evil in her eyes." Or maybe it was just bad lighting.
Tough act to follow: Not every group that performed on Wednesday was terrible. In fact, the first foursome to take the stage was India Morrison, Matt Giraud, Kris Allen and Justin Williams, and the judges smiled and sent them all on to the next round. The rest of the contestants clapped, but as Ryan Seacrest noted "All of the contestants are cheering now but on the inside they're saying "Damn, I wish we were that good."
Family affair: Having a famous last name didn't help David Osmond. The 29-year-old heir to the Osmond Brothers singing bloodline didn't make it out of the group round, and viewers didn't even get to see footage of his final performance. Maybe someday he'll have better luck on "Dancing With the Stars."
Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C.