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

American Idol 10, Feb. 23 – Emotions Tough for Judges Too


The folks at American Idol surprised everyone last week, both fans and contestants, by throwing an extra performance into Hollywood week. They all thought once they made it through the choosing of the two rooms that they were in until the final 24 announcement. They were wrong, as before that, they’ll have to do one more performance. They’re not staying in Hollywood though. They’ll be singing Beatles tunes in Las Vegas.

Thia Magia, 15, from Mountain House, CA, and Melinda Nademi, 16, of Yonkers, NY, are working together and getting advice from vocal coach Peggi Blu. She tells them if they’re still reading lyrics at this point, they’re clearly not ready for this gig.

In another room, it’s Denise Jackson, 20, of Mazomaine, WI, Lauren Alaina, 15, of Rossville, GA, and Scotty McCreery, 16, from Garner, NC, struggling with their song as well with vocal coach Ken Stacey. Lauren sobs while she sings, and says everyone loves the Beatles so much, she doesn’t want to go in there and not impress the judges. She doesn’t want to go home, as this means everything to her.

Peggi Blu is being referred to as the vocal coach from hell as she yells at Thia and Melinda, warning them to not a make a mistake as they sing Here Comes the Sun. She warns them they’re going to die up there on the stage, and she’s going to be laying in her bed watching them croak. When they call and ask if she worked with these two, she’s going to say, “Hell no.” She advises Melinda to bury Thia onstage and “tap dance right on her tongue.” If she hears what she likes, she’ll put “salt on it and swallow.” These young girls must be scared witless right now.

With many of the contestants saying they don’t know a lot of the Beatles’ work, Interscope mogul Jimmy Iovine and his team come in to watch the contestants. Denise, Lauren and Scotty are up first, singing If I Fell. He tells them they aren’t going to win singing that song and advises them to pick another. He has similar comments for many contestants. To help them out, they see Cirque du Soleil’s show Love.

The next morning, the contestants are going through last minute rehearsals to sing these Beatles songs in duos and trios. Stefano Langone, 21, of Kent, WA, and James Durbin, 21, from Santa Cruz, CA, are up first singing Get Back.They’re evenly matched. Steven Tyler calls it unreal, saying he doesn’t think he’s ever heard two higher voices together before. James went out into “Squeakland.” Randy jackson liked it too. Stefano started out slow, but he got it together.

Pia Toscano, 22, a makeup artist from Howard Beach, NY, and Karen Rodriguez, 21, from NYC, are friends. It turns out they went to a performing arts school together and were even in a group together. They sing Can’t Buy Me Love together and do well. Jennifer Lopez thought they “get it,” like they know they have to give a show and be professional up there. Steven was worried in the beginning, thinking they picked the wrong key, but then they took off with it.

Jacob Lusk, 23, a spa concierge from Compton, CA, Haley Reinhart, 18, from Wheeling, IL, and Naima Adedapo, 25, an artist from Milwaukee, WI, are up next. Jimmy told Jacob he’d be working in a cafe if he used the firepower in his voice all the time. They’re singing The Long and Winding Road. Their harmony doesn’t quite hit it, although they’re all good. J-Lo thinks they all made it their own. Steven found it over the top and tells Jacob it was beautiful. Randy advises him he has it, and should just put the gas in the car and drive it all the way, going against Jimmy’s advice.

Rachel Zevita, 22, a singer from NYC sings Eleanor Rigby and Lauren Turner, 19, a maid from Covington, LA, sings Let It Be. Tim Halperin, 23, in advertising sales in Forth Worth, and Julie Zorrilla, 20, of L.A. sing Something together. They both hit the keyboards too. They honestly sound ready to record this together.

Next up are Lakeisha Lewis, 23, a health technician from L.A., Tatynisa Wilson, 2, a waitress from Aurora, IL, and Jerome Bell, 27, a Bar Mitzvah singer from NYC, who Steven thinks is wearing Randy’s sneakers. They sing I Saw Her Standing There, and do great harmony together. Lakeisha owns this group. Randy calls it crazy and says all three of them can definitely sing. Jerone was okay, Lakeisha had the Aretha going on, and he liked Tatynisa more at the end. J-Lo felt Lakeisha was holding back and that it wasn’t Tatnyisa’s best, as she didn’t have the vocal power at the end. Steven thought they nailed it though.

Kendra Chantelle, 22, an office manager of Loudon, TN and Paul McDonald, 25, a musician from Nashville, sing Blackbird, and he is so Kenny Loggins-ish in sound and look. Steven loves his voice and Jennifer shows off her goose bumps. She calls it beautiful, thinking Kendra was strong and mentions the power of Paul’s soft beautiful tone that cut right through. Steven agrees his voice was different and really good. Randy likes their choices with harmony, as it showed the uniqueness in both their voices.


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