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American Idol 's Hollywood Round moves at a frenetic pace, with new singers introduced and audition favorites eliminated so quickly, it's almost impossible to keep up with who's in and who's out.

Still, Wednesday's episode saw some new favorites emerge, while other, more familiar faces saw their momentum shift.

For the first time, Idol producers separated the men and women in Hollywood. But that wasn't Wednesday's only twist: The producers also chose the groups, putting some in almost untenable situations and others in combinations strong enough that they have the potential to continue beyond the show.

The most obvious example of the former was Country Queen, consisting of two burly country-leaning guys, Lee Pritchard and Trevor Blakney, and two who were more androgynous, Joel Wayman and Jda. For material, they compromised on Extreme's More Than Words, but their poor performance and complete inability to blend was beyond description.

DKSK, on the other hand, looked like a boy band in the making. It reintroduced Season 11 contestant David Leathers Jr., putting him with Kayden Stephenson, a 16-year-old with cystic fibrosis, and two other teens. Leathers survived a rendition of Billy Joel's

The Longest Time

, though Stephenson didn't.

The judges cut some contestants a bit of slack, given the awkward nature of many of the groups. Lazaro Arbos, for example, knew hardly any of the song choices and struggled with the Beach Boys' Wouldn't It Be Nice, but he continues to Thursday's solo round, even though one of the singers who worked hard to help him learn his parts got sent home.

By the end of the show, several winners and losers had emerged:

Winners: Arbos and Gurpreet Singh Sarin, neither of whom has a deep knowledge of the Idol song catalog; still, it's clear the Idol powers are going to do their best to put them in front of voters. Same with returning contestant Johnny Keyser, who had never heard the Four Tops' Reach Out, I'll Be There before choosing to sing it with his group. Charlie Askew, who got paired with two gospel-trained singers and held his own. Rocker Gabe Brown, who clearly has a supporter in Keith Urban. Cortez Shaw, barely a presence during the auditions show, made himself known with his solo and group performances. Shaw, Zach Birnbaum, Nate Tao and Elijah Liu looked like a boy band in the making as they sang Some Kind of Wonderful. Look for two or more of those four to make the semifinals.

Losers: Frankie Ford, whose lack of musical knowledge cost him dearly. Fireman Dustin Watts and doctor Calvin Peters will return to their day jobs. Kayden Stephenson, Griffin Peterson and Clifton Duffin, all shown during auditions, failed to make the cut, as well.

In trouble: Papa Peachez, whose complacency and poor performance used up all the goodwill he'd built with Nicki Minaj, who had to convince another judge to change a vote to keep him in the competition.

In all, 277 singers went to Hollywood. Assuming about half of them were guys, Idol cast off about 100 singers in two hours. On Thursday, 43 remaining hopefuls will get cut to 20 semifinalists. Then, next week, it's the women's turn.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: 'American Idol' Hollywood Round, Part 1: The recap

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