Idol Chit-Chat
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Monday, February 16, 2009

A Closer Look at Group #1

I just barely touched on this Wednesday night because I was tired and irritated and Fabio had just broken his finger on “Top Chef.” So I need to go back and revisit this whole strategy thing because it’s going to be important.

Once again, let me remind everyone how this whole thing is going to work. On Tuesday night, we will see 12 singers perform and then America will vote. The top female vote-getter, the top male vote-getter and the top vote-getter from the remaining 10 will move on to the top 12.

We’ll do that for three straight weeks so on Wednesday, March 4th we will have nine spots of the Top 12 filled. Then on Thursday, March 5th, there will be a Wild Card show where the judges will bring back their favorites from the remaining Top 36. They’ll sing and then the judges will choose their top three to make up the rest of the Top 12.

So, the entire dynamic is changed from seasons four through seven because no longer is it about the two worst/least popular performances. It’s about the three best/most popular. And two of those three are gender specific. So even if three guys give great performances—which is a strong possibility with Group #1—only two of them can possibly advance. That leaves one guy hoping to be rescued by the judges. But if three other contestants wow them, he could be out in the cold.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at Group #1…

Casey Carlson, 20, Eden Prairie, MN
Casey auditioned with “A Thousand Miles” and I said she had a really interesting voice. But since then, she’s become better known for forgetting the words to “Tattoo” during her final Hollywood performance.

Stephen Fowler, 26, Cleveland, OH
Stephen is a married piano teacher with two sons. But he will forever be known as the guy who completely botched “Time of My Life” during the final Hollywood Round. And with that image fresh in the voters’ minds, Stephen will have a tough road to hoe.

Jackie Tohn, 28, Oceanside, NY
The judges had Jackie do two songs during her initial audition, “I’m Yours” and “I’ll Do It All,” but my only comment was on her goofy dancing. She did “I Hope You Dance” with a guitar for her final Hollywood performance.

Ricky Braddy, 25, Nashville, TN
According to the FOX press release, Ricky has a degree in commercial vocal performance from Belmont University. And that’s all we know because we have seen nothing from him. But Paula has been talking him up during recent interviews. He had best bring it if he hopes to advance since we don’t know his story.

Ann Marie Boskovich, 22, Thousand Oaks, CA
Ann Marie is the contestant the judges made come back with a different look. She did “Bubbly,” with Simon eyeing her the whole way. Ringer Alert: Ann Marie recorded “Part of Your World” for the closing credits of “The Little Mermaid II.”

Brent Keith, 29, Blanchester, OH
Brent wowed me with his audition song, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love,” and then I realized why he looked so familiar, and I fell out of love quickly. As a “Nashville Star” finalist who recorded a song for the “Dale” soundtrack, Brent has the stench of ringer all over him—which may explain why he got zero camera time during Hollywood Week. I know he’s got a lot of fans around here because of his local connections, but that lack of camera time AND his ringer qualities put him at a distinct disadvantage. He had better bring it.

Alexis Grace, 21, Memphis, TN
After the single mom’s rendition of “Dr. Feelgood” during her first audition, I said, “She had a great voice and a great story. She could have a real shot.”

Michael Sarver, 27, Jasper, TX
Michael is married with two children, but his tag is the oil rig worker. He sang “Thank You” in his initial audition, but it’s his last audition ripping out one of my favorites, “Nothing At All,” that I remember.

Stevie Wright, 17, Phalan, CA
When she did “At Last” during her first audition, Kara said, “You’re my girl so far.” I said that her voice reminded me of Kelly Clarkson.

Danny Gokey, 28, Milwaukee, WI
Ah, Danny. You guys know that he’s my guy and I look forward to voting for him tomorrow night—A LOT. He wowed in Hollywood with “Kiss From a Rose” and “I Hope You Dance,” but sadly, Danny will always be known as the guy who lost his wife. Although now he could add to that the guy whose best friend was wrongly eliminated. His well-known story is an advantage for him.

Tatiana Nicole Del Toro, 24, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Do I really have to tell you anything about Tatiana? Logic would tell us that Tatiana has a slim to none chance of advancing. But when has “Idol” ever done anything logically? As much as I hate to put this in print, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see her advance Wednesday. Remember she doesn’t have to beat out 11 other contestants. She only has to beat out the other five girls. And if and the others hoping to watch the show crash and burn can put together enough votes, that’s a possibility—especially if those other five girls don’t bring it.

Anoop Desai, 22, Chapel Hill, NC
Anoop’s audition song was “Thank You,” but he got the most attention with his final Hollywood song, “My Prerogative.” He’s got a following from being a member of the UNC Clef Hangers, a University of North Carolina a cappella group.

As for what these 12 people will sing, Executive Producer Ken Warwick told that they were going to be able to choose from songs that have made the Billboard Top 10 since the Billboard charts were created in the 1950s. That means the return of watching people ruin their chances with current songs—which is always fun to watch. I’d say that’s a bigger problem for the girls, though, because Beyonce, Rihanna and Carrie Underwood are going to prove way too tempting.

Remember that tomorrow’s show is two hours beginning at 8, and yes, I will be here rating the performances as they happen. And you can play along with me by posting your comments.
It’s finally here, ladies and gentlemen. And it’s going to be fun…
Photo Credits: Michael Becker/FOX, Chris Cuffaro/FOX, Becker/FOX, Cuffaro/FOX, Becker/FOX, Cuffaro/FOX