February 17, 2009 08:02 PM by Candace Young
Tonight’s contestants have made it through auditions and Hollywood week, and are now in the Top 36 on FOX’s American Idol! The first group of twelve will perform tonight, which is also the first night that voting for the public will begin. Randy Jackson says it is time for the contestants to really blow them away! Kara Dioguardi says even she is nervous tonight – but the performers need to just be themselves. Paula Abdul advises the contestants to make the magic happen, and Simon Cowell notes that with only three going through, the odds are stacked against them! Ryan Seacrest explains that the girl and the guy with the highest number of votes, plus the next highest vote-getter will go on from each group of twelve over the next three weeks, as well as the top three from the wild card show!
Jackie Tohn is the first American Idol hopeful to perform. She sings A Little Less Conversation in a polka-dot tube top, black satin pants and sneakers! Randy says he wasn’t blown away by the vocals, but she was entertaining, Kara tells Jackie she can work a stage, Paula says the performance got her up dancing even though it wasn’t perfect, and Simon calls the performance ungainly, and the song gimmicky – she didn’t do herself any favors! Jackie tells Ryan that she has no regrets about her performance.
Ricky Braddy, who just gave up his job serving chicken fingers, is next to perform on American Idol 8. Ricky is singing a song by Leon Russell. He takes the stage in a burgundy suit jacket over a white shirt and jeans, and sings very impressively. Randy calls Ricky’s performance the ‘start’ of season 8! Kara says it was amazing, Paula says she is proud that America gets to see how talented he is, and Simon says it was very, very good, but he’s concerned that Ricky hasn’t got enough star quality – he needs to start believing in himself a bit! Ricky sits down with Ryan Seacrest and his parents, and says that it was an incredible feeling to perform there.
Alexis Grace is missing her daughter, but hopes it will all be worth it in the long run. She takes the American Idol stage in a little black dress, and belts out a sexy rendition of I Never Loved a Man. Randy comments that she really found the soul – he’s lovin’ it right now! Kara says it has been a pleasure to watch her come out of her shell, Paula remarks that she has a lot of soul and passion – she’s wonderful! Simon says that by a mile, she’s the best contestant so far, remarking on her self-confidence and self-belief. He remembers feeling the same way about Kelly Clarkson in Season 1! Alexis joins Ryan and says one day she’ll explain all this to her daughter as an amazing experience!
Ryan calls out Brent Keith as the fourth American Idol performer tonight – saying we’re going country. Brent and his wife are struggling to make ends meet, and hopes to improve his prospects by singing Hick Town tonight. Dressed in a simple gray button-down shirt and worn-in jeans, he gets the audience clapping along with his new country-style tune. Randy tells Brent that he likes how he returned to his country roots – he’d make a very good country artist. Kara says he was good, but played it safe tonight, Paula says she can definitely see him in country and western – look at what has happened to Josh Gracin and Bucky Covington. Simon says he did a nice job, but he likely blew a massive opportunity by being forgettable! Brent says he doesn’t think that country fans would agree!
Seventeen year-old Stevie Wright is American Idol’s number five performance tonight. She wears a pretty turquoise and white top with skinny jeans to sing her Taylor Swift song. Stevie’s nerves seem to get the better of her, as she is off at times. Randy honestly says it was ‘not hot’ for him, Kara agrees, saying the song wasn’t a good choice for her. Paula also wasn’t happy with it, saying the low range didn’t work for her, and Simon says the other judges are being nice – it was terrible. He says she got some experience at least, but there is no chance of her going through to the next round. Stevie joins Ryan and her parents on the sofa, where her mother complains that the judges don’t seem to know what they want from Stevie – it’s confusing!
Anoop Desai, with a polished look, takes the stage next and sings Angel of Mine. It’s definitely not as good as his American Idol audition. Randy explains that the whole song was a little sharp, but he’s still a fan. Kara notes that it was a hard song that he chose, and he didn’t quite have the riffs or the capability for it, Paula adds that America has connected with him already, so ‘Anoop Dog’ may stick around. Simon asks why he chose that song, saying that it was too grown up and serious for him! Anoop tries to explain the significance of the choice, and Simon says they’ll try to remember what they liked about him before! Ryan tells Anoop’s parents that he’s a class act, and Anoop tells Ryan that he was nervous.
Casey Carlson, who calls American Idol ‘an incredible process’, is the next live performer tonight. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic by The Police is the song she chooses to sing. In a black halter-top and gold lame skirt, Casey is beautiful and entertaining, but her vocals is lacking. Randy says it was the wrong song, and Kara agrees, saying Police songs should be left alone – she fell really flat. Paula tells Casey that she is a beautiful girl, but the song just didn’t work for her. Simon asks her how she thinks it went tonight, and Casey says she had fun. Simon says she looked good, but she shouldn’t even have been allowed to do that song! Ryan greets her at the top of the stairs, noting that this is a tough moment. Casey graciously says she agrees with the advice about the song, but she had a blast out there!
Michael Sarver, the roughneck from Texas, is the next contestant to sing on American Idol 8. He will sing I Don’t Wanna Be by Gavin DeGraw. Michael rocks it out in a sharp-looking white shirt and blue jeans, delighting the crowd. Randy says the good part is that he can sing, but he may be better singing the soul things. Kara says it wasn’t his best performance – he’s got more in him. Paula thought he did a really good job, and Simon says that the best thing about the show is that it gives guys like him an opportunity. He says the songs he sang in the earlier auditions may have been better, but he’d like to see him get another shot. Ryan Seacrest points out that Michael is a nice guy – he’s awesome.
Anne-Marie Boskovich is up next. On the audition round of American Idol, Anne-Marie was sent out to the parking lot to come back with a ‘star image’! Tonight, Anne Marie is dressed in a stunning blue cocktail dress and sings Natural Woman. Actor Ted Danson is shown applauding for her in the audience. Randy gives thumbs down on the song choice, Kara agrees that the song is so big that you have to kill it – she should have picked a love song or something more girlie. Anne-Marie asks if she should have chosen something not so difficult, but Paula jumps in and says that she actually thinks she did better than in her auditions. Simon admits that her voice is just not good enough for that song, and worries that she may have ruined her one chance. Anne-Marie makes her way to Ryan Seacrest in the red room, where he wishes her good luck.
American Idol 8′s next performer is Stephen Fowler, who infamously forgot the lyrics in the audition rounds. He will be singing Rock With You by Michael Jackson live tonight to demonstrate his showmanship. In a dress shirt and jeans, Stephen sings in a very flowy, lounge-singer type style. Randy says he doesn’t know what is going on, but again, it’s not the joint for him to be singing – it wasn’t good! Kara says she got more from him at the piano when he forgot the lyrics – he was connected at least. Stephen says he’s not comfortable performing without playing the piano yet. Paula says she’s happy he got another chance, but the song belongs to Michael Jackson. Simon expresses that he actually wishes he had forgotten the lyrics this time – it was corny – and he’s not a corny person. Stephen joins Ryan Seacrest and they shake hands.
Emotional American Idol hopeful, Tatiana Del Toro from Puerto Rico, is the next live performer. She is singing Saving All My Love For You by Whitney Houston tonight. Dressed in a colorful print dress, Tatiana gives a sultry sounding rendition of the song, which leads to a standing ovation. Randy admits that he was worried when he heard she was doing this song – but she really had some moments in there! Kara says it’s like a roller coaster ride with her – she wonders where Tatiana would fit in the industry. Paula notes that Tatiana is the most talked about contestant so far. She says she had some beautiful moments tonight – but also wonders who she really is! Simon jumps in to say that she is a complete and utter drama queen who is desperate to be famous! He says the song wasn’t bad at all, but they liked her better the way she was before. Ryan Seacrest also asks Tatiana who is the real her – the cool, calm collected one, or the giddy one. Tatiana says she’s more relaxed right now – more herself.
Milwaukee native, Danny Gokey is the last of the group of twelve to perform on American Idol tonight. The 28 year-old church music director, who recently lost his wife, is singing Hero by Mariah Carey. In a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves and jeans, Danny sings a pleasant and heartfelt version of the tune. He garners a standing ovation, and Randy calls him the redeemer of the night! Kara says he was great, and Paula says she has two words hyphenated – sold-out arenas! Simon says he likes him too, but he’s just not buying the hype yet. The other judges say he’s heartless. Ryan asks Danny what images he had in his head when he sang that song, and Danny says he pictures people rising above!
Ryan Seacrest invites viewers to begin voting, reminding them that only three of these twelve contestants can go through!
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Photos Courtesy: FOX