updated 11/17/2011 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 11/17/2011 AT 10:00 AM ET
“We’re not only fighting to keep ourselves in the competition but to keep Paula Abdul in the competition as well,” Cari Fletcher told PEOPLE after their Wednesday performance on the Fox show. “She has been the most-involved mentor out of all of them. She’s the most inspirational and amazing woman.”
On Wednesday, Lakoda Rayne sang “Your Love” by The Outfield and earned mixed reviews. Simon Cowell called their performance “a complete mess,” but Paula defended them, saying, “These girls have earned their place right here on this stage.”
“We want to represent the groups for as long as we can,” Fletcher says. “A group should be here because it’s something America hasn’t seen.”
Many of the solo performers say they’d also like to see Lakoda Rayne stick around, and that the groups category as a whole adds a lot to the show.
“I think America just has to get used to it,” says over-30 contestant Stacy Francis. “The groups are amazing. I think it’s just new. Once America gets used to it, they’ll be saved, and they’ll be fine.”
“The groups have a lot to offer,” adds Drew Ryniewicz. “Lakoda Rayne is holding up this Paula team, and she’s proud of them. And I feel like it’s kind of fun to have groups in the competition because it brings something new that somebody is going to love.”
Several of the solo performers speculated that it’s harder for the groups to make an impact, because the audience can’t focus on one singer. But Josh Krajcik, for one, says it’s certainly not an issue of talent.
“I think it’s really interesting what Lakoda Rayne does,” he says. “I think they’re four beautiful girls, and they all have great singing abilities.”
He adds: “I think you’ve got to keep groups around. It’s a different time now. A lot of kids don’t remember when groups were a big thing in the late ’90s. That was a big thing. I think it’s an interesting category, and I think it should stay.”