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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol, February 20th – Only One Stevie


This is a bad sign for the remaining three. I can’t think of who could be left. Jared Cotter is one of them, and is asked if he’s now worried about facing the judges after Chris, and he says he can handle it. Ryan asks about “the ego,” and Jared says he’s a sweetheart. When he got his golden ticket, it felt incredible, as his family flew up from Florida to see it. America really hasn’t seen him yet, so this is a clean slate to show them what he’s got and to do his best to entertain. He hopes he’ll be there as long as they want him there. Well, that’s odd. If they don’t want him there, wouldn’t he be voted out anyway?

Jared sings a Brian McKnight tune, Back to One, and he’s pretty pitchy, especially at the bridge. Randy tells him he was pretty good, but he didn’t like the way it ended. Just as he got going with the falsetto, he was finally coming into himself. He admits it’s a tough song to sing, as Brian lays it out, and Jared explains he only had a minute thirty to get it all in. Paula says he always reminded them of a young Brian McKnight, and while he sounded like how Brian would sing he song, she feels like there’s more to him. Jared says he’ll catch her next time, then. Simon calls it a very unadventurous performance and a bit nasally, but he looks good. He doesn’t think anyone will wake up Wednesday morning thinking it was an incredible vocal performance. Jared says the challenge will be to push himself more and more, until each judge says he did an incredible job. Could he be any more PC?

AJ Tabalado works as a supervisor for a shipping company. It’s funny how all these guys have pretty non-descript jobs. This year was his fifth time trying out, and it’s just been a long process. As far as emotions he’s felt, he feels it would be every one in the dictionary. His best moment was the first round of Hollywood week, as that’s when he got cut last year. He finally got a yes after so many years. It’s such a great feeling for him to be part of the top 24, as it’s something he’s been trying to do for five seasons. It all takes a strong person, and he feels he has those characteristics to keep on keepin’ on.

While it’s not bad, AJ’s performance of Luther Vandross’ Never Too Much is pretty forgettable, just likeJared’s. The cameramen even seem to get bored as they show a shot of the background singers. Randy says it looked like AJ was having a blast, and says it was pretty good vocally, and AJ is a really good singer. He can definitely blow, but he doesn’t know if he brought anything new to it, as a Luther Classic. Paula agrees AJ can definitely sing, and notes how the girls watching seemed to like the tone of his voice. She feels he should go for it more. Simon calls it good, nothing terrible. He counts it as a kind of theme park performance, though not a very popular one. He felt it was predictable, and says he has to choose a song that’s a little bit more daring, which Paula corrects to “challenging.” However, Simon thinks AJ is better than he originally thought. AJ says he hopes to be there again next week, but I’m not too sure at this point.

Phil Stacy is an active duty United States sailor, and when he was at his audition in Memphis, the night before his wife woke him up to tell him she had the baby early. He wasn’t planning on that, and it threw him off, making him a little disconnected during his audition. He really worked hard between Memphis and Hollywood, and he’s excited to have his wife with him as well as her parents and their two little girls here to support him. You have to like this guy. You can’t help it.

I’m not sure if this early in the competition if it’s very wise to sing a song Clay Aiken has done in the past, but nevertheless, Phil sings Could Not Ask For More,and while he brings it, I still can’t help but compare him to clay. I also keep looking at his bald head, and thinking he reminds me of the pictures of Britney Spears’ new look. Not just the head, though, the ears and dark eyebrows as well, and possibly even the 5:00 shadow. Randy tells him he started off a little rough, but from “The Dawg,” he calls it the best vocal of the night. It was hot, on point, and in tune. Paula agrees that on the chorus when he went into it and really opened up, it was great. Simon says the beginning was absolutely monstrous and he doesn’t know why, but at the end it was okay, although he still doesn’t think it was the best vocal. He’s comparing it, though, to Chris Daughtry, who nailed songs like that.

Ryan seems to agree with me with the Britney Spears/Phil Stacy comparison, and Phil tells him he agrees with Simon that he was a little rough in the beginning, and he’s going to put a lot of work into it to change his mind. Randy and Paula can’t believe it, as they loved him. He tells them he loves them still, but wants Simon to love him as well. Ryan asks Simon why he is so negative tonight, and he says he respects the audience and won’t lie to them, but he’ll leave that for Ryan to do on his radio show.

If I were the girls I’d be a little worried. But if I’m a favorite from the auditions, I wouldn’t be worried at all. I believe that definitely one of AJ Tabaldo and Jared Cotter will be leaving, and not because we hadn’t seen them before, but because this is all we’ve seen of them, and it wasn’t great. Sanjaya didn’t do too well, but he was an early favorite, and people will remember him crying with his sister, so he’ll stay. I think the two leaving will be among the group of Jared, AJ, Paul, Nick, and Rudy.

Thoughts about Idol you need to get off your chest? Email me at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

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