American Idol 4, February 15: Four Roomsby Sting7 -- 02/16/2005
Ryan reminds us that what started out as 193 exuberant finalists has been narrowed down to a very nervous 75. Those 75 are now spread among four different rooms. It looks like more cuts are coming. By the roomfuls!
Ryan says they have been "pushed harder than they ever have in their lives." The contestants (unnamed) tell us that's, in fact, quite true. They had to sing a song of their choice, without accompaniment. Just one song, just them, to make it to the next round. There are plenty of jittery legs, and some tears. They look just emotionally drained!
Ryan tells us who is in Group One (or in Room One, specifically):
Sharon Galvaz, who belted a powerful "The Greatest Love of All."
Shunta Warthen, she who once missed the bus, gave a emotive "If I Ain't Got You."
Angel Hicks, the teacher who outlasted her student (to her horror) with a slightly pitchy "'Til You Come Back To Me."
Rashida Johnson, the voiceless dynamo, who sang an inspired "Overjoyed."
Sean McNeill, youth pastor with the golden smile, brought "Your Song" with some smart power chords in the right places.
If I were betting, I'd have a hard time sending what we've seen home. But, I don't see my Picks To Click (for the record: David Brown, Carrie Underwood, Anthony Fedorov, Mikalah Gordon, and Scott Savol, off the top of my head) in this room, and that's worrisome.
There is reason to worry, because this talented crew, Randy says, is finished.
Group 2 features Jamar Jefferson (who performed his own song - risky!), Mario Vasquez, Matthew Kessler (who we've seen, but haven't met, and launched into an incredible "Unchained Melody" - Simon's favorite song!), Carrie Underwood, Judd Harris (another new face, but I'll be dang if he doesn't sound like young Ray Charles!), Constantine Maroulis, David Brown, Janay Castine, Vonzell Solomon and Anwar Robinson. (Oh baby, Clicks to Pick all over the place! No way they are going home! Right? Right????)
Randy and Paula (Simon had personal business to attend to), deliver the news. Paula somberly says, "I'm afraid we have to say no... to the other rooms!" They are staying!
We could call Group 3 The Unique Room, because all the featured contestants are a bit off the beaten path. Dezmond Meeks with his old soul vibe, Jennifer Todd who does not look like a typical star, Carrie Zaruba with her deep, almost jazz singing style, Aa'sha Jackson who sometimes sounds like she took a hit of helium before she sings, but there is a perfect pitch to it (if she advances, she'll be one of those contestants that people will love or just despise!), Larry Ellis (arched eyebrows! Grrrr!), with a very affected (maybe too affected) version of "One More Cry" (Ryan notes he was a crowd favorite, one contestant boldly predicting Larry would definitely advance, and I felt him too. But. I can see Simon saying no), and Ross Williams with a trusty Stevie Wonder song that left him feeling like he could have done better. Hmm.
This is a risky room. I could feel okay with any of them advancing, but I worry about who is not in the room with them.
Speaking of which, Group 4 contained Anthony Fedorov who wondered about his song choice, Jaclyn Crum (the youngest of all the competitors), Tammy Wynette Nash (that's a name destined to be famous, but Tammy herself is an emotional wreck! She's a young mother from North Carolina. Sound familiar?), Scott Savol, John Zisa, Mikalah Gordon (sassy, annoying, but she sure can sing!), Lindsay Cardinale, and Jessica Sierra (with a spicy "The Boys Are Back In Town").
One of those two rooms are about to be very disappointed. I think, from the performances shown, Group 4 definitely outshined Group 3, but not by a large margin. Jeez, I'm nervous just writing this, I can even imagine the blimps flying around in their stomachs!
Group 3 gets the bad news. They look just shocked. Group 4 (which I also see includes JP Koehler, Nadia Turner, Travis Tucker, and Amanda Avila), are literally groaning and tears are flowing through Paula's tearful speech about how talented everyone is, and hard this is, cry even harder when they hear they are moving on. Boys and girls.
Meanwhile, Larry Ellis is not happy to hear his fate. Aa'sha Jackson is undaunted, " I wasn't fed with no silver spoon... but I'm rich!" (She has something. If her mother can tone it down a notch, and Aa'sha can learn a little humility, there could be great things in her future.) Contestants kvetch, and I guess they are entitled. Paula did tell both rooms "don't let your dream end here, you owe it to yourselves," and I hope they take her up on it. From what we've seen in the two dismissed rooms, they were better than half of the Top Ten in Season One. And Season Three, for that matter.
There are only 44 left, but there is still one cut to make. And there is nothing the contestants can do about it. The judges will review the tapes and decide who the Top 24 will be. Ryan says, "they'll found out when you do!" (But, we see some clips that suggest they already know. Maybe it will make sense tomorrow!)
Really, really talented people cut today! This season is truly shaping up to be the best ever!
Sting7 has been a respected published writer for 16 years, as a music editor, entertainment critic, columnist, and interviewer. He also has a curious love for pro-wrestling! You can email Stinger at email@example.com.
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