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"American Idol" Hollywood Round Kicks Off with the Guys Taking the Stage

Image courtesy of Michael Becker/FOX (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Michael Becker/FOX (via ABC News Radio)

American Idol 's Hollywood week kicked off Wednesday night with the acapella and group rounds for the guys. Judge Keith Urban compared this round of competition to The Hunger Games , and Randy Jackson told the contestants they better sing like their lives depended on it. Nicki Minaj encouraged them to be themselves, and Mariah Carey said she was rooting for them all. Here's what happened:

The contestants first came out in a line of 10 to sing acapella in a sudden death round. Micah Johnson , who has a speech impediment from a botched tonsillectomy, was in the first group and really impressed with Elton John 's "Bennie and the Jets." Nate Tao , rocker Gabe Brown and turban-wearing contestant Gurpreet Singh Sarin also made it.

Hyperactive redhead Karl Skinner was hopped up on Coca-Cola for his rendition of The Temptations ' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," but the judges cut him from the competition. Firefighter Dustin Watts and Dr. Calvin Peters also got the axe in the first round.

Cortez Shaw took on the money notes from Whitney Houston 's "I Will Always Love You," and Mariah was a fan. Nicki was disgusted by Cortez's audition, but he made it through that round. Curtis Finch, Jr. impressed with a gospel number, and Frankie Ford earned the judges' approval too.

Lazaro Arbos suffers from a severe stutter and he admitted he was very scared to audition with "Angels" by Robbie Williams .  The judges sent him through to the next round.

Brian Rittenberry dedicated his version of Brian McKnight 's "Back at One" to his wife, who survived a bout with cancer. Though it wasn't a unanimous decision, the judges sent Brian home.

On Day Two, the guys went into the group round, which is described as the most strenuous night of the competition. Many of the guys started forming their groups as soon as they knew they'd made it past the first Hollywood round, but the producers threw a curveball by announcing each contestant would be assigned to a group. What's more, the contestants couldn't change their group assignment.

On top of his stutter, Cuban-born Lazaro wasn't familiar with a lot of the selections on the list of 20 songs the groups could choose from in this round.  They went with The Beach Boys ' "Wouldn't It Be Nice," but Lazaro hadn't even heard of the legendary rock group. Group mates Josh Stephens and Scott Fleenor weren't confident with the lyrics, and Christian Lopez did better. Lazaro struggled with the lyrics too, but he and Christian ended up making it to the next round.

Army sergeant Trevor Blakeny and country singer Lee Pritchard wanted to sing country, but their group mates, "resident divas" Joel Wayman and JDA wanted to go more pop.  They ended up going with the name Country Queen, but Trevor didn't like how much his group mates were focused on the dancing instead of the singing. Once they hit the stage, Lee and Trevor had trouble with the lyrics to Extreme 's "More than Words" and got cut.  JDA and Joel were more confident and made it through.

The Couch Potatoes, featuring the socially awkward Charlie Askew and the charismatic Curtis Finch, Jr . , also had trouble getting started. Charlie started feeling ill overnight, but rallied by show time. The group impressed with Bruno Mars ' "The Lazy Song," and they all earned a spot in the solo round.

Nick Boddintgon , Matthenee Treco , Gabe Brown and Matheus Fernandes 's group was going strong early too. They ended up singing Queen 's "Somebody to Love," and there was no weak link among the four of them. Nicki said they gelled well with a great blend, and all four of them made it to the solo round.

Returning contestant Johnny Keyser 's group went with "Reach Out (I'll Be There)" by the Four Tops , but Johnny forgot the words during the performance. His group mate, Kareem Clark, hit a lot of bad notes, and Keith Urban was shocked to learn only one of them actually knew the song. Keith thought Johnny's confidence was shot, but he ended up making it through. Kareem got the axe though.

Micah Johnson's group included Vincent Powell , Marvin Calderon and David Willis , who all made it through with Sam & Dave 's "Hold On, I'm Comin'."   Zach Birnbaum , Nate Tao, Cortez Shaw and Elijah Liu also got a pass singing "Some Kind of Wonderful" by The Drifters .

The turban-wearing Gurpreet botched the lyrics to Maroon 5 's "Payphone," and the rest of the group fell apart too. It was so bad, Keith told them, " Adam Levine is still alive, and he's already turning in his grave." For some reason, the judges decided to put them all through anyway.

Jason Jones , Dan Wood and Jessie Lawrence 's group turned in a dreadful performance of One Direction 's "You Don't Know You're Beautiful." Nicki said they were all equally bad, and they all got sent home.

Devan Jones and Devin Veliz 's group took a risk singing "Payphone" by Maroon 5 without the band, and Keith thought that was a mistake. Devan and Devin ended up making it to the next round.

Tony Foster, Jr.,   Mario Jose , Burnell Taylor and Darien Moses had a lot of energy singing "Some Kind of Wonderful," but Keith wasn't impressed with Burnell's performance. Mario and Darien were sent home, but Tony and Burnell are going on.

Returning contestant David Leathers, Jr ., cystic fibrosis patient Kayden Stephenson , Kevin Quinn and Sanni M'Mairura made up the youngest group. They performed Billy Joel 's "The Longest Time," and Kayden struggled with the lyrics. He and Kevin were cut.

Street performer Frankie Ford felt out of place with his group since the other singers had musical backgrounds. Frankie blamed his problems on asthma and had a breakdown before the group hit the stage. Their actual performance of Estelle 's "American Boy" turned out to be a big mess. Papa Peachez wasn't impressive on his part, but Adam Sanders was right at home with the sassy lyrics. Charles Allen laid down some serious soul on his part, but Frankie completely fell apart. Keith fought to keep Frankie, but it wasn't enough to keep him from going home. Nicki told Papa Peachez he was getting too complacent, but he ended up going through along with Charles and Adam.

American Idol 's Hollywood round continues with the guy's solo performances Thursday night at 8 p.m. Eastern on Fox.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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