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Star Search, January 24: May the Circle be Unbroken!by Donna Reynolds -- 01/26/2004
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It’s time for another edition of Star Search, the show that launched the careers of Alanis Morisette, Usher and LeeAnn Rimes. Of course, that was our “father’s Star Search,” according to host Arsenio Hall. Which leaves me wondering whether this edition will spawn anyone notable. A heavy question to ponder as we settle back to watch Week Two.
Before appearing on stage, Arsenio as “Voiceover Man” quickly reviews last week’s ousting of two of the three Winners’ Circle occupants. Molly tells us that she thought she sang really well and is upset over the verbal beating she received from judge Matti Leshem in his explosive debut on the show. “Who’ll be left standing in the winners’ circle when the dust settles?” Arsenio’s voice asks.
Arsenio appears in the flesh and welcomes us to the show, performing an imitation of Howard Dean and his Iowa whoop. Yadda yadda, yadda - more chatter about the Winners’ Circle. Arsenio is glad they don’t have a winners’ circle for hosts. “I’d be working at a Yuck Yucks next week if I got challenged by Wayne Brady or something” he chortles. You’ve got that right, pal! He quickly acknowledges the judges - Naomi Judd, “Controversial TV Producer” Matti Leshem and Grammy nominated “heavy, heavy” MC Lyte.
Finally, we get to the action. The Young Singers are up and our first contestant tonight is 12 year old Karina Pasian from New York. She sings in four languages, plays the piano and is also a flamenco dancer. Her song tonight is the Jackson 5’s “I’ll be There.” Karina has a nice voice; very rich for a young girl. Her range is good, but she gets a little “growly.” She goes flat here and there but she is generally convincing. I like her, but don’t think she’s any competition for Spensha.
Her father is out of his mind with pride. What will the judges think?
Naomi compliments her tone and loves the quality of her voice but thinks she is a bit “pitchy” (ah, the “P” word). Matti praises her heart but thinks she is inconsistent and all over the place in terms of range. MC thinks she’s fabulous and says that Karina is “studio-bound.”
Karina gets 10 stars (3-3-4). The poor child is devastated and close to tears.
Next up is another 12-year old, Scott Hoying from Arlington, TX. He’s a straight A student and designs websites. Arsenio thinks he may be a threat to our credit? Anyway, Scott will sing Billy Gilman’s “There’s a Hero.” He’s a cutie, and sings with a great deal of heart. He belts this song out and hits all the notes beautifully. He’s got great stage presence for a 12-year old. I like him.
Naomi is impressed that, while this song is hard to sing, Scott was right on with the pitch. Matti wishes that the performance had moved him more and thinks that, while Scott is technically good, he is stilted in his movements. “A little staged for my taste,” he adds. MC points out that while he finished strong, Scott started out a little shaky and might need a little more rehearsal time.
Scott gets 9 stars (4-2-3) so Karina gets the round. Scott was robbed!
Karina has to pick one of the kids from the Winners’ Circle, either David Archuleta of Sandy, UT (Winner of Tournament #2), Mark Mejia of San Diego, CA (Winner of Tournament #3) or Spensha Baker from Killeen, TX (who won last week, ousting Molly Bouchard).
Last week, all of the contestants in the Winners’ Circles were sent to perform at Universal Studio. But there was a twist. After their performances, they had to judge each other. We see a clip of the crowd and little Mark doing his thing. Then David sings “Fallin’” (oh no) followed by Spensha who tears it up with the song she sang last week. The kids were nice to each other and they all give each other five stars. They were tougher on themselves though. David thinks he was shaky and Spensha thinks she has done it better. Mark, on the other hand, says it was one of his best performances and gives himself five stars. He is adorable.
Now it’s time for Karina to select one of these three to challenge – who will it be? Oh no, she chooses Spensha. Bad move. Why would you do that? We break for commercial.
After the break, Arsenio is back and reminds us that last week Naomi compared Spensha to Whitney Houston. Spensha has taken a cue from this comment and will be performing Ms. Houston’s “When You Believe.” She’s got a few more runs in it this time around, but she sounds incredible. Matti is cheering her on! The arrangement of this song is a little different too, and it’s great. This girl can sing and I can see her winning the whole shebang. She puts so much emotion into her singing and her song choices are perfection. She’s got it all. Great performance. She finishes up with a “Thank You” to the crowd.
Naomi points out that “she brings a freshness to a very familiar song.” She loves her interpretation. Matti asks Naomi how she can be so analytical. “She’s amazing,” he shouts. “You have a maturity beyond your years. You connect with any material.” He thinks Spensha has an amazing vocal range and is going to be a huge superstar. He hints that he is giving her five stars! MC loves the control and points out that Spensha knows she is moving people with her performance. Spensha is nodding in agreement. This child is remarkable.
No surprise, Spensha gets 15 stars, a perfect score! She deserves it too.1 2 3 Next-->
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