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Star Search, February 28: You Have My Attention!by Donna Reynolds -- 02/29/2004
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As Star Search enters its seventh week, I have to say I have reached a point where I have virtually no expectations. The show is entertaining but lacking the kind of drama that makes it truly compelling to watch. Since last Saturday’s show, I have heard from a number of people who agree with my comments regarding, Alexandria Lushington. Her performance was clearly stronger than David Archuleta’s was but the judges failed to consider his performance in isolation. Instead, their obvious bias towards him overruled fairness. This was so blatant it was hard to ignore.
We start out as always with Arsenio’s voice telling us about the show’s format and reviewing last week’s show. As if we don’t know it all by now. “With just two weeks left until the finals, the pressure on the Winners’ Circle is greater than ever,” he tells us. “It’s getting hot in here.” We’ll see about that.
Arsenio appears and welcomes us to Star Search Live. He reminds us that there are just two more shows until grand finale and tosses in some jokes that are even lamer than normal. Finally, he “recognizes” the judges, Naomi Judd, “America’s Favorite Metrosexual” Matti Leshem, and MC Lyte.
The Young Singers category starts us out and the first singer is 13-year-old Kevin Francis from Palm Desert, CA. He is singing “Ain’t No Mountain” and hits the stage with style. This kid has the moves, the stage presence, and the looks. Plus, he belts out this song with more conviction than I have seen from anyone in this group to date. Kevin nails every note and the audience is with him all the way. I keep pointing out how important song choice is and this is a perfect example. This is his song and he sings it to perfection! Look out, Winners’ Circle.
The audience gives him a standing ovation. Naomi loves the fact that he is a “potent stylist” and his self-confidence makes her comfortable. Matti wonders if Kevin got up this morning and said to himself, “I’m gonna be in the Winners’ Circle?” He thinks he has a good shot of doing just that and calls the performance unbelievable. “You have substance,” he finishes. Yeah. MC agrees with Naomi. She loved the movement of his hands and the “church” energy.
“Hit me with the digits.” Kevin gets 14 stars (5-5-4). All right! Now you’re talking.
After being rudely interrupted by a snippet of the dramatic Star Search theme music, Arsenio introduces 12-year-old Luisa Labell from Weston, FL, telling us that she can sing in six languages, including Swahili. Tonight she is singing the aria from Puccini's "O Mio Babbino Caro" in Italian. This adorable little girl gets on the stage but when she opens her mouth, she is so good that you might think she was lip synching to a mature opera singer. She is absolutely perfect. I am no opera buff, but this girl is amazing. My mouth is hanging open as she finishes.
Naomi loves the tremolo in her voice and calls her pitch pure and lovely. Matti can’t wait to see her at La Scala and thinks she is amazing. MC felt the compassion and comments that Luisa hit each note precisely.
Wow… talk about comparing apples to oranges! How can you judge a performance like that on a show like this?
“Let’s hear from the digits.” Luisa gets 13 stars (5-4-4). Clearly she was better, but let’s face it, opera’s not going to sell and the judges have to keep marketability in mind when they vote. Luisa should not let this get her down. A lot of those “big names” that Arsenio brags about in the intro (Beyonce, Justin, Britney) did not win and look how well they have done.
Now for tonight’s fun filler piece. Last week we were told that all of the Winners’ Circle performers would have a chance to perform for the troops on a U.S. Navy destroyer. But first, they have to select a leader. We watch as David, Mark, and Spensha quibble a bit, ultimately choosing Spensha. She takes charge immediately and they work on their song, “Amazing Grace.” Then they are off to the USS Howard where they are greeted by an enthusiastic crowd. The Juniors do their thing and, while they are a bit off-key and lacking in harmony, they are well received by an appreciative audience.
Now Kevin has to challenge either Spensha or David. He sings out a challenge to David (ala Es’ challenge to Freedom a few weeks back).
Back from the break, Arsenio says, “It’s on like Donkey Kong” and then introduces David, who has chosen “Wind Beneath My Wings.” This is another song that should be forbidden! David tears into the song, but he is beginning to bore me. He constantly chooses “safe” songs and then spins them for his voice. Tonight he’s having some serious pitch problems and, note for note, he is not as good as Kevin. This just wasn’t good enough. But will the judges evaluate him fairly?1 2 3 Next-->
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