American Idol 4, February 16: Where The Nitty Meets The Gritty!by Sting7 -- 02/17/2005
It all comes down to this. Forty-four finalists, waiting to hear if they made the Top 24. The judges are done seeing performances Ė live ones, anyway. The decision is being based on video clips of the contestants from start to the last Hollywood song sung. There is nothing they can do about it now.
I think we were promised that we would "find out when they do." Not entirely true. They know now. And, American Idol, in Big Brother fashion, has placed cameras to catch every nervous twitch, every wrung hand, and every tear Ė be they happy or sad.
Before we get to the results, I consulted my own crystal ball and boldly predicted who I thought was a lock for the Top 24, in an article on Foxes On Idol. (See how I stick my neck out there for you?) Hereís what I predicted:
A couple of risky guesses in there. Weíll see how I did later! In case youíre wondering, for means of keeping track, I have put the names of the contestants we are being introduced for the first time in boldface. With so many faces, itís difficult to follow sometimes. I do this gladly.
Matthew Kessler is up first. Yes, heís nervous, and he sang Simonís favorite song, "Unchained Melody," but he is gently told, itís a no. Then, a rapid fire series of ďnoĒs, including Donnie Williams (who made the Top 32 last season, but a drunk driving arrest got him eliminated and replaced with George Huff Ė Donnie is surely cursing the fates once again), somebody whose name I missed, Ian, Roland, and Natalie (part of the Elizabeth Pha trio) are all also noís.
David Brown, who I predicted was a sure shot to make the Top 24 as my number one seed, absolutely has! More tears from David, but can you really blame him?
Jessica Sierra is a nervous wreck, and crying Tammy Nash does her best to comfort her. Jessica is going to hear her verdict, while Tammy is left alone with her own nerves. Sheís simply coming undone. Meanwhile, Jessica is going forward! Tammy, though, is not. She gets lots of consoling, but she is philosophical. Jessica now consoles Tammy, Tammy says she has no more tears left when Jessica is about to bawl (she couldnít possibly have any more left!), and promises sheíll be voting for Jessica.
Nikko Smith (who I think was Osbourne Smith II the last time we saw him), is advancing!
Aloha Mischeaux (try forgetting that name!) is also moving forward. She is "so excited, I need a donut!"
Mikalah Gordon is not so cocky at the moment, every squealing girl that comes back down the elevator makes her cry a little more. The judges ask how she thinks she did. Mikalah says she can leave knowing she did her best and the she learned a lot... but she wouldnít try out again. Paula looks a bit struck by that answer! Mikalah can stop crying, sheís in the Top 24! Her reaction can only be described as an explosion of tears and babble about how she missed exam week and although sheíll get Ds and Fs itís okay because she made this. Or something like that.
Anthony Fedorov, whose legs are shaking enough to power a small cottage, can stop shaking, heís in the Top 24!
Nadia Turner seems prepared for whatever sheís going to hear, and the news is good! Sheís in the Top 24!
Vonzell Solomon is very nervous, the ensemble is very green, and sheís very happy! Sheís in the Top 24!
Carrie Underwood is told she was a unanimous yes to the Top 24!
Judd Harris is asked how he thinks he did, and his answer is unintelligible, but Iím sure heís as nervous as heís ever been. Heís in the Top 24!
Erin Furey thinks itís important to take the news professionally. Itís a no, and she is professional and gracious in her exit.
Ivan Gonschev is told itís a no, and it seems to take a while to register. But, he grasps it eventually.
Yolanda McIntosh is also a no, she looks surprised.
Faith Gatewood (who asked for mercy in Jaclyn Crumís trio) is told itís a no and sheís really having trouble dealing. She asks for clarification three times, and finally leaves. Sheís so shattered, she pushes the wrong button on the elevator, and that frustration brings those brimming tears to the surface. Finally, in the lobby, she announces in a "to whom it may concern" sort of way that she didnít make it. Then throws a little pity party. Ivan says, "come on, Faith!" a bit annoyed. She unleashes a full-on rant on him and then runs outside for more histrionics.
Ryan, being Ryan, chases her down and tries to console her. Out of almost 100,000, she was in the Top 44. She can feel good about that! And she should! It seems to work.
Sarah Mather (I called her a Denim Skirt Girl) does advance to the next round!
Celena Rae, who we hadnít met, is also advancing!
Three noís in a row to folks we donít know leads to Janay Castine. Mom Castine wonders what do you say to your child if itís a no? What indeed. Janay does a brief bit of acting before that smile breaks free on her pretty face. Mom wonít have to worry about what to say, Janay is in the Top 24!
Joseph Murena weíve seen a lot, but Idol never introduced us! Thereís time for pleasantries, Joseph is in the Top 24!
Anwar Robinson, the sensitive music teacher, is teased a bit by Randy, blathering on about how they donít want to take him from his students. Apparently, his students will have to deal Ė Anwar is in the Top 24!
Jamar Jefferson, whoís looking as crunk as Leroy Wells for some reason, is told itís a no. He seems to have expected that.
John Zisa, who was given a pardon from the chair after his disastrous trio performance, has run out of appeals. Itís a no.
JP Koehler, another part of that disastrous trio, is another no. JP takes a long time to leave. I donít know if he was trying to work up something to say or if he just couldnít get his legs under him. Randy thanks him trying out. Repeatedly. Each time a bit more firmly. (Get out, JP!) JP manages to thank them graciously and genuinely. Paula and Randy give him a hug, Simon shakes his hand.
The number of womenís spots available is dwindling, and the remaining girls are doing the math!
Lindsay Cardinale is simply told she is in the Top 24. Lindsay simply says thank you and leaves.
Melinda Lira, who we havenít met, canít believe her ears! Sheís in the Top 24!
Mario Vasquez (developing quite a following already), is also in the Top 24! Heís so shocked he seems expressionless. The judges push for one! (Itís a television show, dammit!)
Kim Holloway is a no. Constantine Maroulis is wondering if heíll also be a no. See, Bo Bice is still in the running, "Two 29-year-old rockers in the same competition? No way." Bo (or Harold, as Simon calls him), is a yes! Is that bad news for Constantine? Turns out there is room for them both, as he is surprised by the news that heís going through.
Jared Yates is also a yes to the Top 24!
Now there is only one spot left for the girls. Jaclyn Crum and Amanda Avila are the last two left. They go before the judges together, hand in hand. Paula asks if they would enter again if they were rejected. Jaclyn is an immediate yes. Amanda says she would go back to her regular job, but that would probably be it for the singing career, the rejection is too much. Amanda can forget about rejection, sheís in the Top 24, but the youngest semi-finalist, Jaclyn Crum, is not.
Jaclyn tearfully runs to her motherís arms, and Amanda tries to respectfully contain her joy in the face of that, but her family scoops her up with squeals and hugs.
That leaves just three men, two spots. Scott Savol, Travis Tucker, and Warren Nolan are all thatís left. Scott goes before the judges. Simon says heís at that age where Ė Scott cuts him off, says his age hasnít determined anything for him. It is a bit defensive. They tell him heís going forward, and five years of worry falls off his face immediately!
Meanwhile, Travis and Warren, who appear to be buds, wait for the news while doing a little innocent beatboxing... oh thereís Scott! Scott says he made it! They hug him graciously, but those two out of three odds Travis didnít mind have become 50-50. Together, Travis and Warren get the news. Randy asks how it feels to be the last two. "Cute," Travis says dryly, but Iím sure his stomach was a great big half-hitch. Randy does the "Iím sorry to tell you this..." routine, but Travis is going to the Top 24. Travis is so surprised, a little expletive comes out! Warren is thanked for competing.
Finally a montage of the auditions that came before, revisiting the faces who didnít make it (including Mary Roach, Elizabeth Pha, Melissa Walton, Mike Luzzia, and ending with Leroy Wells. His post-Idol journey has been one not desired!). Enough sad times. On with the Top 24, who are:
Which makes me 9 for 10! Holla at your boy! Thatís why they keep me around, to the disdain of some of you, but just keep sipping that Haterade! Comes in lemon-lime, I hear!
This is an exciting group of young people. Next week, America, we get the phones in hand and start making the decisions! Next Monday night, the men will perform. Tuesday night, the women will perform, and Wednesday night, the lowest vote getters from both genders will end their journeys! So, get the wax out of those ears, take the phone off the hook, and decide, America, decide!
Sting7 has been a respected published writer for many years, as a music editor, entertainment critic, columnist, and interviewer. He also has a curious love for pro-wrestling! You can email Stinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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