“American Idol” aired its dreaded “group rounds” this week, in which the singing hopefuls must join with other contestants they barely know and come up with a coherent, choreographed performance in a matter of hours.
When it was all over, a Raleigh native advanced to the next stage of the competition, while another contestant who grew up in Garner did not.
Jordan Sasser, the Millbrook High School graduate who loves Celine Dion, teamed with three other contestants with similarly hued pupils. (Their group name was “Team Blue Eyes.”)
Their performance of Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” – the first one shown in Thursday night’s two-hour episode, won raves from the judges. Sasser was singled out by judge Jennifer Lopez. “He’s got a funkier voice than I thought,” she said.
All four members of Team Blue Eyes advanced. An excited Jordan was shown face-timing with his wife, Alex, and daughter, Westlund Joy, back in Atlanta. He and Alex memorably tried out for the show together, but she wasn’t selected. (And she assures us there are absolutely no hard feelings.)
The Sassers live in Atlanta now, but they still consider Raleigh as their home. (It is listed as Sasser’s hometown on “Idol.”) His parents are Greg and Christine Sasser of Raleigh.
Jordan Sasser and his wife, Alex, now live in Atlanta, but they still consider Raleigh as their home. It is listed as his hometown on ‘American Idol.’
This season’s other contestant with Triangle ties is John Arthur Greene, who attended Enloe High School and grew up in Garner. (Though Raleigh is listed as his hometown on the show. It’s almost as if “Idol” producers don’t remember a past WINNER of the show who came from Garner.)
Greene, too, had a memorable audition for “Idol,” sharing the tragic story of accidentally shooting his brother as a child.
During the group round, Greene’s group sang the old Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive.” All of the members EXCEPT Greene were shown flubbing the lyrics, earning a stern talking-to from judge Harry Connick Jr. In the end, two of the four advanced, but not Greene.
But don’t weep for him. He’s already on Broadway in the musical “Matilda,” and he’ll be returning to the Triangle next month to perform the lead role of Danny Zuko in “Grease” at N.C. Theatre. That runs Feb. 9-14 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh.
Two other North Carolinians were briefly shown in the group rounds Thursday. Eliz Camacho, a “singer, actress, model” from Fayetteville, was shown arguing with her two group mates. They ended up advancing; she did not.
Jessica Baker, a hairstylist from Charlotte, did advance after her group’s performance. She’s received minimal to no screen time thus far on the show. Not sure what that means for her long-term prospects.
Next week, “Idol” will winnow down its contestants – which started with 190 at the beginning of Hollywood Week – to just 24.