American Idol 2, March 4: Pretenders and Contendersby Sting7 -- 03/05/2003
This is it! This is the Wildcard Round, the round that Simon predicted would blow all others away! One would have to consider the process of choosing this year’s wildcards a gamble. The fact that the judges dug way deep, including two contestants cut at the first Hollywood, makes it impossible to handicap (thank you for ruining my article guys! Fear not, Handicapping will return!). Did the gamble pay off? Did those who slipped between the cracks deserve the slippage?
Ryan welcomes us to the show. He jumps right to it, Simon what is the twist? Simon says the twist is... (drum roll)... Dunkleman’s coming back! The judges applaud, Ryan introduces Brian Dunkleman! (Sweet Lord above, no!)
They were just kidding! I try to get my blood pressure back down.
The real twist is that the round of 10 is now a round of 12! The judges will choose three performers, and America will decide on the fourth! Randy says that everyone is even and they will be judged on what they do tonight. (And tonight, they had music track to sing to, and not just a piano accompaniment. Maybe that is another experiment that is gone forever.)
Foul! I have several disagreements with this. One: America already knows five of these folks, they saw them perform, and if they improve, America is more apt to vote for them rather than the four we haven’t seen in awhile/ever. Two: the five who performed before have the advantage that they have already been through this. They’ve been through the blocking, worked with the vocal coach, dealt with the cameras, the pressure, the judges eyes, the fact that they are singing to an empty studio... all of these things are quite jarring the first time you have to do them. Three: the pressure is more intense for the four that were picked from oblivion, because they were selected based on what the judges remembered, not what they just saw... and the memory is fallible. So, if they come on and are ordinary, the critiques from the judges will be worse because it looks like you blew it. I doubt that will ever happen again. Here’s why.
Kimberly Caldwell, “I Feel The Earth Move”
Randy - “I didn’t love the song on you”
Paula - “star quality... a little under the key the whole time... remember, we saw you perform better on the last show” (she was implying that they won’t hold this performance against her too much, but that throws out “everyone is level,” doesn‘t it!)
Simon - “glad this was not your audition... unimpressive”
Sting7 - It seems like a theme of this show will be “improvement.” All the things I liked about Kimberly were still there, she’s still beautiful, she still had great presence, great confidence, but it didn’t ignite me. Something was definitely wrong. Her voice wasn’t explosive enough for this song. I’m kind of afraid for her chances.
Clay Aiken “Don‘t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”
Randy - “(standing ovation) look fly... really good... right song for the right guy... did your homework”
Paula - “(standing ovation) big fan... love your hair... raised the bar”
Simon - “really impressed... fantastic... the fact that you don’t look like a pop star makes you memorable... you look better to me every time I see you”
Sting7 - The second that Clay opened his mouth I thought, “perfect song!” Clay delivered the goods this time, I was afraid that he had too many runs without vibrato, showing a little weakness in power, but it all came together like true talent should. I believe Clay will be unbeatable tonight!
Nasheka, “Wind Beneath My Wings”
Randy - “waiting for growth in emotion and connection, didn’t happen... did you smile (during the performance)?”
Paula - “you definitely did much, much better... I’m concerned about the song choice... we’ll see what happens”
Simon - “definite a most difficult song to sing... I think you performed brilliantly”
Sting7 - I, too, am really concerned with the song choice. Something about Nasheka makes me pull for her, it’s an ugly duckling sort of thing. Not that she’s ugly, far far from it, but there is something about her that is very uncomfortable. That, to me, is not Idol material. Simon is curiously high on her, but I don’t think I would have put her in the Wildcard round. She needs time.
Carmen Rasmussen, “Can‘t Fight The Moonlight”
Randy - “keep trying”
Paula - “work on your showmanship”
Simon - “tonight, you needed to shine. You didn’t... not good enough”
Sting7 - I think the judges were a wee bit hard on Carmen. I saw plenty of potential. Amazingly, she struck the same awkward leg pose as George Trice! Her voice has a Christina Christian kind of vibrato, and she seemed as unable to control it as Christina, at times. But, I did not hate her performance as much as the triumvirate. I don’t know that I am ready to put in her in the Top 12, though.
Olivia Mojica “Because You Love Me”
Randy - “not sure it was the right song... showed some signs of life at the end... didn’t work for me”
Paula - “(in the future) you have to take advantage of the moment”
Simon - “lack of emotional feel”
Sting7 - Olivia got off to a rocky start, but toward the end, I agree with Randy, there were signs of life, for sure. She had a nice little run, she’s gorgeous, she took some chances and made it her own. I would call it a success overall.
Janine Falsone, “We Belong”
Randy - “you’re drop-dead, but I didn’t enjoy it”
Paula - “know how to work a camera”
Simon - “you had all the passion of a kitten mewling!... song was so wrong for you...”
Sting7 - The camera was absolutely in love with her. And, I daresay, she was with it! Interesting song choice, she performed it a little too breathy, didn’t come anywhere near the angst that Pat Benatar intended. I liked the overall tone of her voice, and you can just tell that she would explode with a better song. Not sure if we will ever know for sure.
Chip Days, “Rock With You”
Randy - “you listened to what we said... I liked it”
Paula - “good job... definitely showed personality”
Simon - “terrible audition... bad song choice... capable of better”
Sting7 - I don’t know why Simon has it in for Chip. I was thoroughly impressed with his performance. He has a wonderful warm voice, his energy matched the uptempo push of this Michael Jackson classic. I liked him through and through. For the record, I got some heat for picking Patrick over Chip as my third last week. To be clear, I did think that Chip was better, but I thought Patrick had an underdog thing going for him after Simon insulted him. I am glad that Chip got the nod for the Wildcard, and I think he showed up again.
Aliceyn Cooney, “Angel”
Randy - “started shaky... at the end, I thought ‘she’s not bad’... okay”
Paula - “nice voice... all we’ve heard was ‘Angel’... wanted to hear your voice from another perspective”
Simon - “good, not jumping out of my chair
Sting7 - I got the feeling that her voice is capable of much more power than this Sarah McLachlan light-touch. It felt like sailing a pond in a yacht, she seemed so concentrated on matching Sarah’s light feel that she really had to reign in her voice. It left me disappointed.
The Wildcards get a visit from Justin Guarini, who is just looking like money these days. He says it is much more fun on the other side of the television set. He also says life after Idol is “cool.” The girls say Justin is “hot,” though Olivia thinks he’s too old for her.
Trenyce, “Let’s Stay Together”
Randy - “(standing ovation) you brought it home... very very nice”
Paula - “(standing ovation) you shined! It thought you shined the last time, but you were even better”
Simon - “not as excited... maybe I’m in a bad mood”
Sting7 - She kicked the door down. I don’t know how I overlooked her! If I could give her Pick To Click status I would. Outstanding performance, she clearly had the most energy, awesome presence, completely at home in front of the camera, and charm charm charm! She is the comeback story of the night.
So, those were the performances. Who I think should advance:
1. Clay Aiken
3. Chip Days
4. Kimberly Caldwell
Who I think will advance:
1. Clay Aiken
3. Chip Days
4. Olivia Mojica
The four Wildcard entrants that were not in the top 32 didn’t really show that they deserved the second chance, though the judges were harder on them than I think they warranted. Let’s hope they stick to the Top 32, and I bet they will. The twist was not Frenchie’s return, I feel a bit better that I was not the only one who thought this was the call. (Can you imagine – Fox had a conference call to specifically say Frenchie was not coming back?) It was fun night, and I am specifically happy for Chip and Trenyce. Clay, A Pick To Click, should have advanced last time. What folks saw in Charles Grigsby is a mystery to me.
And, it dawned on me, even though some contestants were summarily dismissed tonight, all nine of them were better than Nikki McKibbin. You heard me.
Sting7 can be reached at email@example.com.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recent AI2 articles at the American Idol 2 page -- and don’t forget to check out The Foxes On Idol Website for more great coverage!