March 03, 2009 08:01 PM by Candace Young
Tonight on FOX’s American Idol, the final group of twelve is set to compete. Ryan Seacrest introduces the judges, Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Kara Dioguardi, and explains that the most popular girl, most popular boy, and the next highest vote getter will go through to the next round. Von Smith from Kansas City will be the first hopeful to perform tonight.
Von comes onstage dressed in a gray suit over a contrasting red shirt, and sings You’re All I Need by Marvin Gaye. He belts it out and has the audience clapping along! As he finishes, his mother jumps up and down in her seat! Randy tells Von that was the way to kick off the show, adding, “Welcome to Idol, baby!” Kara agrees that Von seems more comfortable and did a good job. Paula says that this will be a memorable first and that he’s a good showman. Simon tells Von that he reminds him of Clay Aitken – and Paula blurts that she knew he was going to say that.
Next up on American Idol is seventeen year-old Taylor Vaifanua from Utah. She is singing If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keyes. Dressed in a gray, white, and black smock dress over black tights and black knee-high boots, Taylor gives a technically sound rendition of the song. Kara says it’s clear she has a great voice, but she still needs to see more of her personality. Paula wonders why she didn’t show them something new – she sang that song on Hollywood Week. Simon adds that his problem is that he genuinely didn’t remember her from the earlier rounds, and now he knows why – her song was bland. Randy concurs – she has a really good voice, but didn’t show them anything special.
Alex Wagner-Trugman is the next performer on Idol. He admits to Ryan Seacrest that he read some online comments suggesting that he is a bit of a geek – so he started working out so he could fill out a t-shirt like Simon! Alex takes the stage in a button-down shirt over a t-shirt and jeans. He has chosen to sing That’s Why They Call It the Blues by Elton John. His version is pretty scary – he really rasps and growls! Paula laughs and says he is definitely entertaining, and Simon says it’s true, they had fun watching him – but certainly not listening to him, likening Alex to a hamster trying to sound like a tiger! Randy says he has to agree with Simon – he screamed the song! Kara says the positive thing is that at least he does Alex – you can’t pay for that kind of choreography!
Arianna Afsar, a seventeen year-old from San Diego is set to take the stage next. She will sing The Winner Takes It All by Abba. Arianna wears a simple blue dress adorned with a long necklace and proceeds to sing a slightly odd rendition of the tune. Simon is first to speak and tells her that it was terrible, the wrong song choice, and it was a dreary arrangement. Randy agrees that it wasn’t the right song for her. Kara says in the auditions she was like a beam of sunshine, and tonight’s performance was dark – it’s not who she is! Paula says there were some bright moments in the song, but it was a little old-fashioned. Arianna tells Ryan Seacrest that she thought she made the song sound contemporary, but obviously she was wrong.
American Idol’s next hopeful is Ju’Not Joyner, age twenty-six, from Bowie, Maryland. Ju’Not has decided that he will perform a Plain White Ts tune called Hey There Delilah. He comes onstage in a leather jacket and sings a slowed-down and subdued version of the song. His vocals are great. Randy says it was actually a smart choice, and he loved it! Kara agrees, saying it was smooth, but advises him to let loose with the vocals even more next time. Paula calls it a nice vocal, and Simon admits it was better than he thought it was going to be, noting that it was a little bit safe. Ju’Not tells Ryan Seacrest that he wanted to respect the artist in arranging the song.
Kristen McNamara, known for her purple streaked hair during auditions, is up next, singing Give Me One Reason by Tracy Chapman. Kristen is clad in an eye-catching pinkish-orange dress and silver stilettos. She delivers strong and unique-sounding vocals. Kara comments that she likes her hair better without the purple, and also says that she’s not sure that was the perfect song, but it’s obvious she has good vocals. Paula agrees that this song was a little safe, but it did show her range. Simon notes that her style has changed, but she does have a good voice – he’s puzzled. Randy always says he’s not sure who she is either – and the performance was almost karaoke. Kristen admits to Ryan that she’s always had trouble with style choices.
Nathaniel Marshall from Malone, New York, a self-professed drama queen, takes the Idol stage to perform I Would Do Anything For Love by Meatloaf. Wearing a blue button-down shirt over a yellow t-shirt, complete with matching blue headband, Nathaniel delivers a ‘show-tunes’ version of the rock song. Simon says it was verging on excruciating – but at least people will remember it! Paula giggles. Randy is curious about the song choice, and Nathaniel explains that it’s fun. Randy has trouble imagining what kind of record he would make as a recording artist. Simon says a keep fit video! Kara tells Nathaniel he’s got a voice, but he needs to show another side if he gets the chance. Paula says his song choice was bold, but it was the Boy George version of the song! Nathaniel tells Ryan he loves to have fun, and those who want to have fun every week should vote for him.
Twenty-six year old Felicia Barton from Virginia Beach is the next to take her shot on American Idol 8. She will sing No One by Alicia Keyes. Clad in black from head to toe, Felicia projects a different, edgier image from her earlier auditions. Paula tells her she is gorgeous and has unbelievable talent – she’s so glad they brought her back! Simon says the first part of the song was better than the second, but it was a bit copycat. Randy urges her to play up what she has that is different from Alicia Keyes, and Kara says she got herself noticed tonight.
Scott MacIntyre is the 23 year old blind Idol contestant hailing from Scottsdale, Arizon. He follows Felicia. Wearing jeans and a gray vest, Scott sings Mandolin Rain, seeming slightly off in spots, while sounding really good in others. Randy says it wasn’t the most perfect vocal for him, but he hit the really big notes. Kara says when he steps on stage he moves mountains – he’s passionate. Paula says she is happy and proud that he made it, and he is one of their finest. Simon says he wasn’t crazy about the song, but admits that Scott is growing on him because he thinks he’s starting to believe in himself. Randy asks what it’s like for Scott to be on the show live. Scott says he can feel the energy in the room.
Kendall Beard from Texas is the next performer onstage. She has chosen This One’s For the Girls by Martina McBride as her song. Kendall comes out in a trendy yellow dress with a feather-adorned belt and delivers an energetic, but pitchy, version of the country tune. Kara says her big personality comes through, but she had some issues with the notes. Paula says she takes the ‘best outfit’ prize, and that she showed she’s a country artist. Simon says she did the right thing tonight, but honestly, halfway through he couldn’t wait for it to end – it got shrill at times. Randy admits he loves country music and that she dialed in who she is, but the vocal performance wasn’t the best.
Puerto Rico’s Jorge Nunez is taking his shot on American Idol tonight as well. Jorge is a twenty year-old student, and his challenge is to deal with his accent issues. Jorge will sing Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me by Elton John. Wearing a dark blazer over a white shirt, Jorge performs with spine-tingling vocals – just beautiful! Paula gives him a standing ovation and remarks that she is just so proud of him! Simon says he is a very good singer and he sounds a bit different because of his accent, which is as it should be! Randy says the vocal was very, very good! Kara tells Jorge he was born to sing – he has the gift of touching people when he sings because it comes from the heart! Jorge and Paula both get tears in their eyes.
Memphis Tennessee’s Lil Rounds is the final contestant to perform on American Idol tonight. Lil has three kids and is trying to make sure everything is okay while she’s away from them. Lil is singing Can’t Be Without You by Mary J. Blige. She is wearing a strapless black and yellow dress and performs like a natural on stage. As she finishes, the audience comes to it’s feet! Simon says it was brilliant – his favorite performance, although he wouldn’t have chosen that song because she’s too much like the original. Randy agrees that she’s one of the best they’ve found this season – he loved it! Kara says she was a powerhouse when they first met her, and she still is a powerhouse! Paula tells Lil she’s first class – she has a sneaking suspicion they’ll be seeing her for many more ‘l’il rounds’! Lil is so happy she has tears in her eyes.
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Photos Courtesy: FOX