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Nail-Biting Tension – American Idol, 02-15-05

by LauraBelle

The rule changes enacted this year on American Idol have apparently been made to cause more drama – lots more drama. By the end of tonight’s show we find there will be one more obstacle before getting to live performances – they will be sent to the chair.

At the beginning of the show, I begin to wonder if they are showing tomorrow’s show by accident, as they started out showing us all seventy-five remaining contestants broken into four groups. After each performed a song of their choice a capella for Randy, Paula and Simon, they were broken into these groups to find if they were leaving or staying. All just to provide us with more nail-biting tension, as in actuality, we were shown each group waiting, then would see some select performances, and then we would see Randy and Paula deliver the news.

The first performance shown of group one is by Sharon Galvez, the singing cocktail waitress from Las Vegas that is very popular with the American Idol message boards. She sings Greatest Love Of All. None of the performers tonight hear critiques. Just out and done.

Shunta Warthen, who couldn’t figure out how to board the correct bus her first day in Hollywood, follows. She sings If I Ain’t Got You, and after, feels very invincible.

St. Louis vocal teacher, Angel Hicks sings Till You Come Back To Me. She entered the contest with her student; he couldn’t make it past Randy, Simon and Paula, but here Angel is one of the last seventy-five.

Rashida Johnson’s laryngitis is still affecting her singing as she makes her way through Stevie Wonder’s Overjoyed. By this point, I am already figuring this group is one that is not going to make it through.

Sean McNeil wowed them with his personality in Washington, D.C., but he makes his way shakily through Your Song by Elton John. He is no longer able to depend on his smile, but he does have a good extended note at the end.

Randy and Paula arrive to meet Sean, Rashida, Angel, Shunta, Sharon and the others in their group, to deliver the news. Simon had been pulled away on business. They tell them their performances had brought them great joy for the past four days, but unfortunately they are going home. Randy, still not able to refrain from name-dropping famous celebrities he has worked with, tells them to keep the “Journey” going.

Up first for group two is Jamar Jefferson, minus his twin, Lamar. Jamar had been warned before that this wasn’t a strip club. He takes a huge risk and sings an original song, Shake, that he had written at his grandmother’s house.

Mario Vasquez’ mom says through a thick accent that he’s been singing since he was four or five. He also takes a risk, and sings Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Note to Mrs. Vasquez: Please urge your son to contact Annie.

Matthew Kester sings a very different version of Simon’s favorite song, Unchained Melody. This could spell trouble, as if I am unimpressed, I can only imagine Simon is as well.

Innocent farmgirl, Carrie Underwood, goes back to her country roots and sings Independence Day. Having someone say she “knocked it in the box,” she asks a very cool Constantine if that’s supposed to be good or bad. He believes good. I am thinking this is the first group to make it through.

Judd Harris sings Ride, Sally, Ride and the crowd joins him at the appropriate time of the chorus.

Vonzell Solomon, a United States postal service employee, sings, Natural Woman, and does quiet well. We are also treated to a clip of her delivering mail in her mail truck.

Along with these people are David Brown, Anwar Robinson and Constantine Maroulis. Again, Randy and Paula come in to break the news. They do a little acting bit about how sad they are before letting them off the hook to find out they made it through.

For group three, Paula’s favorite, Desmond Meeks is up. He sings Heard It Through The Grapevine, and it’s clear why Randy and Simon had their reservations about him, as he performs more than sings.

Jennifer Todd from Las Vegas is still in it despite being told she had an image problem because of her weight. She sings I’m So Excited, a song that is a little hard to do a capella.

Carrie Zanuba had battled with Elizabeth Pha over forgotten lyrics. She remembers her words as she sings Lately. It won’t be lyrics holding her back, and I don’t think this group will make it.

Aa’Shia Jackson, she with the very high-pitched voice, says before her song that she has to have a purpose in her life for her life to have a purpose. Still, her rendition of Never Can Say Goodbye brings my daughter in asking if it’s a little boy singing. Too much early Michael Jackson for her.

Larry Ellis sings Last Cry, and I think I actually liked Camille Velasco’s version better last year. Please don’t shoot me.

Rounding up the singers reminiscent of last year is San Francisco crooner, Ross Williams, singing Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke. I believe he was channeling Mel Tormé in this one.

To keep the suspense going, we don’t find if group three made it or not, instead we move straight to group four. Antony Federov, known sometimes as Miracle Boy, sings the same song he did in his first audition, Angel, by Jon Secada. Even better, somehow. Already, I know this group makes it through.

Jaclyn Crum says she is the most emotional person (and I thought I had that award wrapped up) and admits to crying over everything. She sings Beautiful Disaster. Pretty brave and gutsy, I think, singing Kelly Clarkson.

Also emotional, is Tammy Nash, feeling an overwhelming pressure. She sings Somehwere from West Side Story.

Scott Savol thinks he is in good company in his group with Bo Bice and John Zisa. He sings Ribbon In the Sky … beautifully. I hope his father is eating his words for saying Scott would never go anywhere.

Mikalah Gordon tones the performance down from earlier ones, not even talking at all this time. She sings a song I have never heard before. Low-toned Lindsay Cardinale does the same.

Jessica Sierra sings a jazzed up version of Boys Are Back In Town. I can’t even remember hearing her before. By this point we should know all the contestants very well, but the editors have played with us, not letting us see all our favorites every week, and popping surprises at us here and there.

Randy and Paula approach group three with the same lines from group one. They are gong home. Approaching group four, Paula adds crying to her acting skills, only to of course say they have made it through.

The people from groups one and three are meeting in the hallway to commiserate, all very disappointed. In fact, Larry Ellis is pissed! Aa’Shia still feels completely invincible, and yells something about not being fed with a silver spoon all her life. Whatever. Later, Larry Ellis turns to being philosophical with another contestant about where they go in their lives and careers from here.

The forty-four that have made it are being given three weeks off, then will meet with Randy, Paula and Simon once again, forced to sit in a chair, sans light shining in their eyes, to hear critiques from the judges. There will be twelve females and twelve males left by the end of tomorrow.

This season certainly looks promising. The talent pool overall is tremendous and great effort is being made to provide us with some serious drama. Although, this is one show that usually doesn’t need the added drama, midway through the finals. Should be very interesting!

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

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