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

American Idol, Feb. 15 – Flu Bug Claims More

Those Girls and That Guy are waiting to go on. Christian Lopez got sick, but then they picked it up and finished their practice. Christian, 16, of Martinsburg, WV, Alisha Bernhardt, 27, a police officer from Indianapolis, and Samantha Novacek, 19, a server from Sutersville, PA, take the stage singing Stuck Like Glue. The judges and audience look bored. It just had no excitement. Zip. Randy tells them it was a little rough. So rough, that none of them make it through. Alisha tells them she’s going back to Indianapolis to be a cop, but promises to give them security if they ever need it. And this is what she got for being so choosy with her song the night before?

Area 451 is practicing out in the hallway. Imani Handy suddenly collapses. Johnny Keyser explains she looked a little distressed right before she collapsed, and he caught her on the way down. The others start practicing without her as a trio.

Hollywood 5 – Ariel Sprague, 16, of Fayetteville, NC, Eben Franckewitz, 15, of Loveland, OH, Gabi Carrubba, 17, of North Haven, CT, David Leathers Jr., 17, of Fayetteville, and Jeremy Rosado, 19, a front desk clerk from Valrico, FL, – is set to take the stage singing Mercy. They had a calm night because they had parents with them who apparently weren’t getting too stage mom-ish on them. And they’re terrific compared to some of what we’ve seen so far tonight. Steven jams at the desk. In the moment of truth, they all make it through, understandably so.

Area 451 is still practicing as a trio. Imani gets up and wants to make it a quartet again, but collapses … hard. Imani gets back in there again. They take the stage, all four of them – Bryce Garcia, 18, of Dix Hills, NY, Johnny Keyser, 23, a server from Fort Lauderdale, FL, Kristi Krause, 18, of San Diego, and Imani Handy, 17, of McKinney, TX, – and try to play a little musical theater singing Broken Strings. Johnny is the star of this group for sure. Imani is definitely weakened. Jennifer encourages her to sing in the moment, and she goes for it, then collapses again. Johnny tries to carry on, and Randy stops them. Stage mom. This is when they stop them.

Imani’s mom and Ryan rush the stage. The judges, not knowing what happened before, question if it’s just nerves. Imani is worried the judges will hate her. Steven tells the others they know they gave it their best shot. Bryce explains he had a lot on his mind, and that’s why he forgot his lyrics. It’s cool he doesn’t blame it on Imani. Bryce and Kristi go home, and the judges try to tell Imani about the pressures and rigors of this. She begs to be put through, but J-Lo apologizes and sends her home. It’s tough, but you can’t finish out that week if you collapse three times in a row like that. It’s just not worth the risk in your health.

Reece Kloekner and Symnone Black, who collapsed the day before, get sent home as well, as does W. T. Thompson from Savannah, who is expecting a child.

MIT, the final group, is up last. The others in the group were upset with Cowboy Richie Law. Although he’s the one explaining the group was a democracy, it was clear he was the only one who thought so. Richie then disappears into the confession room to talk about compromising, when it’s clear he has no idea what the word means. He feels one person in the group will probably be taken down, and if he stands above the group, he can make sure it’s not him. HeeJun Han says Richie has a mouth, but not an ear. He talks, but doesn’t listen.

The group – HeeJun, 22, a non-profit organizer from Flushing, NY, Jairon Jackson, 20, a host from Denver, Richie, 19, from Centennial, CO, and Phillip Phillips, 21, a pawn shop employee from Leesburg, GA – also sings Broken Strings. Jennifer remarks HeeJun sounds beautiful and seems to enjoy Jairon just as much. Richie goes off, and Randy starts cracking up, saying “Country guy’s got falsetto.” They love Phillip as well.

The judges deliberate, and Randy tells the group it was not perfect. They are judging them on everything since they have first seen them. They all four get through, despite pitch problems and forgotten lyrics. They are getting through only because all of them were good earlier. They need to bring it tomorrow, or else they’re going home. Outside, HeeJun apologizes to Richie, saying he might see on TV that he said really bad stuff about him. Riche tells him that took a lot of courage, as HeeJun even apologizes to Richie’s parents via the camera.

Also going through are Erica Van Pelt, Adam Brock, Hallie Day, and Elise Testone.

The judges arrive the next day, and Steven and Randy take the stage for a sound check with the Idol band performing Walk This Way. Some of the contestants take the stage with them. I just want to watch the jam session here. Forget about the rest of the auditions. Jennifer comes walking in noting that’s what happens when she takes a phone call. A concert happens.

The remaining ninety-eight contestants will perform one more time with the full band and can also play an instrument at this point. There will be no results until the end of the day. Joshua Ledet is up first. He has really bad anxiety and freaked out and couldn’t get on the plane to come here initially, but his sister talked him into staying through it. He’s glad he did. He sings Jar of Hearts, and all three judges seem to really enjoy it, with Randy being impressed with his high note. He gets a standing O.

Colton Dixon, 20, a musician/face painter from Murfreesboro, TN, sings What About Now, accompanying himself on the keyboard. The judges seem to love it. I wonder if his sister is still in the competition. Remember they both auditioned last year and got to Hollywood, then were sent home. She was the only one who came to audition this year, but the judges asked him to as well, and they both made it. How mad is she if he made this far and she didn’t?

Phillip Phillips play his guitar and sings Wicked Game. He just always seems like he’s getting ready to burst out with this amazing performance. He seems to have a hard time not exploding or something. Randy compliments him on his guitar, and Phillip tells him he worked two jobs to get it. Now that’s a serious musician.

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