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Star Search, March 13: The Grand Finaleby Donna Reynolds -- 03/14/2004
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The Star Search train rumbles to a stop tonight and, after eight weeks, it all comes down to one night. Challengers have come and gone and while two of the Winners’ Circles – the Junior Singers and Young Dancers – have been broken, the Adult Singers remain as they were at the very start. The winners of tonight’s competition will be decided by the viewers and announced live during the show.
Before we get started, here’s the rundown of tonight’s contestants and their history with the series to date. Competing tonight in the Junior Singers’ group will be:
Mark Mejia – Winner of Tournament 3 and winner of the Winners’ Circle Showdown on 2/14.
Spensha Baker – Challenged Molly Bouchard and won Winners' Circle spot on the first episode (1-17); Challenged by Karina Pasian on 1-24 and retained Winners’ Circle spot with 15 stars.
Kevin Francis – Won preliminary round with Luisa Lubell on 2-28; challenged David Archuleta and won a spot in the Winners' Circle with 14 stars; Challenged by Ashlee Keating on 3-6 and retained Winners' Circle spot with 12 stars.
The Young Dancers are:
Jon Cruz – Winner of Tournament 2; Winner Battle of the Champions and winner of the Winners’ Circle Showdown.
Jon Bond – Beat Rah'Shan and Rah'Shad with 13 stars on 1-31; Challenged by Kayla Kalbfleisch on 2-7 and retained Winners' Circle spot with 14 stars; Challenged by Robbie Nicholson on 3-6 and retained Winners' Circle spot with 14 stars.
Stacy Johnson & Joseph DelPriore – Challenged Candace & Brandon on 2-28 and won a spot in the Winners' Circle with 14 stars.
Finally, the Adult Singers are:
Freedom Bremner – Tournament 2: 2nd Place; Challenged by Estevan "Es" Johnson on 2-7 and retained Winners' Circle spot with a perfect 15 stars; Won the Winners' Circle Showdown.
Vickie Natale – Winner Tournament 3; Winner Battle of the Champions; Challenged by Melissa Montgomery on 1-31 and retained Winners' Circle spot; Challenged by Gabrielle Sterbenz on 2-28 and retained Winners' Circle spot with a perfect 15 stars.
Jake Simpson – Winner Tournament 1; Challenged by Nadia Turner on 1-17 and retained Winners' Circle spot with 13 stars; Challenged by Jessica Ann Sierra on 1-24 and retained Winners’ Circle spot with 12 stars; Challenged by Jacklyne Tasca on 2-21 and retained Winners' Circle spot with 14 stars; Challenged by Melissa Walton on 3-6 and retained Winners' Circle spot with 13 stars.
It’s anybody’s game tonight and I am ready! On with the show!
After a 15-minute delay for college basketball, the show opens with even more drama than usual, if that is possible. There are clips of Matti’s nasty comments and lots of video of past challengers. We are reminded that most of the Winners’ Circles managed to defend their titles but we do see the emotional goodbyes from the week when two of the circles were broken.
Arsenio’s voice introduces all of the Winners’ Circle performers and tells us that in the next hour one person in each category will win $100,000. Then, Arsenio appears in the flesh and the audience is ultra-pumped, waving signs for their favorite performer. “This is the Mac Daddy, y’all,” Arsenio tells us. He is certainly excited and reminds us that we will be deciding who wins tonight. But the judges will also be giving their opinions and with that, Arsenio introduces them all for the last time – Naomi (who is dressed in a lacy Mother of the Bride-like frock), Matti (who is in mismatched stripes), and MC Lyte (in a fetching white cotton sundress).
Normally we start with the Junior Singers but tonight we are going to hear the Adult Singers do a medley of their brand-new singles. Freedom’s song is “Feel for me Baby” and it is upbeat, pop, and catchy. He looks smashing in a black leather jacket and t-shirt. Vickie’s song, “This Love is Like No Other,” is great and showcases her amazing vocals. This gal has some serious soul. Vickie also wrote this song (although Arsenio doesn’t tell us this). Jake’s is a very nice little pop ballad, “When We Get There We’ll Know.” It’s a begging song and works well with his voice. Arsenio tells us that we can buy copies of their songs from Napster.com.
Now it’s time for the Junior Singers. Mark is excited about singing here for the final time. He’s going to miss the stage. Spensha thinks it’s awesome to be able to sing in front of nine million people. She tearfully tells us that she has always wanted to share her gift with the world. Kevin is nervous backstage but when he gets out there, all of his nervousness goes away and he is ready. They will all perform and then the judges will make their comments at the end.
Kevin is up first with “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” He looks great and he is stretching his voice on this one. He is such a performer and sells this song beautifully. For a kid, he’s got some serious timber in his voice. Matti is bouncing his head while he watches and so am I! Kevin nails the money note and I say, “Woooooooo!”
Now for Spensha with Kurt Franklin’s “Lean on Me.” Once again she has chosen the perfect song for her age and voice and she is wonderful. Spensha has incredible vocal control and totally nails this one. She gets me good! Beautiful, spectacular, amazing. Spensha will be a star whether she wins this or not! I loved seeing her father with his eyes closed, listening to his beautiful baby girl!
Mark is last and singing Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.” Where does this voice come from? He puts so much into this performance and handles it like a pro! What a star! He was awesome too! How can we possibly choose?1 2 3 Next-->
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