When Wednesday's episode had ended, Michael Lynche, known as "Big Mike," was the proud father of a newborn baby girl and had made it into the next round of the singing contest.
But Seth Rollins of Florida, who had hoped to make a better life for his autistic son and who performed with Lynche and two others contestants, was cut by the judges.
Lynche, of New York City's Astoria neighborhood, missed out on being at his wife's side as she delivered their daughter and instead monitored the birth by phone.
"Hi, baby girl," he heard his wife say, then dropped his head into his arms. With his fellow group members standing by, he turned back to the competition.
"Still got work to do," the new father said.
Lynche ended up among the 71 contestants moving on to the next round, out of 96 that started the night. A number of those cut left in tears.
"This was a dream, you know, and I was really hoping it would come true," said ousted Mark La Briola.
New judge Ellen DeGeneres and Simon Cowell, who had played nicely on Tuesday's show, had a brief clash of personalities Wednesday.
When a contestant complained vaguely of "hardship," DeGeneres helpfully tried to explain that a member of the singer's group had quit abruptly before their audition.
"That happens in life. It's not a hardship. It's rubbish," Cowell replied tartly, in familiar fashion.
There were a few of the contestant meltdowns and tantrums that marked group performances of seasons past, with one group alleging another swiped their a cappella approach to Lady GaGa's "Bad Romance."
Both groups advanced to the next round, although DeGeneres described the accusers' stage outfits as "surreal."
Otherwise, the groups mostly worked together smoothly in "Hollywood Week," with a big majority of contestants winning the chance to sing and be judged again as the field is narrowed to 24 semifinalists.
In a hint of things to come, judge Kara DioGuardi told stunned teenager Katie Stevens of Boston that she was "the potential winner."