A Subjective Review

by TigerCubGirl


PART 1: 50-41

50. “On Broadway,” Scott Savol (Season 4). Okay, okay!! I feel your tomatoes coming on already!! I agree that Scott was my least favorite this past season. His past never bothered me that much since he pretty much turned his life around, but he wasn’t much of a performer and he had a relatively weak voice. That being said, I’ve always liked “On Broadway” and I really liked what Scott did with it. He moved around nicely and was really workin’ the vocals. Kind of a revival of Sweatin’ to the Oldies, I guess you could say. Too bad he was voted off the next night.

49. “Endless Love,” Rickey Smith (Season 2). Oh Rickey, I miss you! Rickey was voted off a few weeks too early, especially after this one-man performance of a classic duet. His voice really soared, and he did indeed make me forget that Diana Ross (and Mariah Carey) were even a part of the song! I did wonder about the hat he was wearing. Was Miles Siggins trying to make him look like a newborn baby?

48. “I Surrender,” Anthony Fedorov (Season 4). Anthony wasn’t exactly Season 4’s Media Whipping Boy (that honor went to poor Scott), but many of his performances were much-maligned by critics around the country. It’s true, Anthony was pretty inconsistent during his Idol run, but towards the end, he started to pick up steam. “I Surrender” was his best performance. Not only was it a difficult song that he nailed, it was a Celine song! You gotta give him “props” for that!

47. “Get Here,” Justin Guarini (Season 1). I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of Justin. Don’t get me wrong…he’s very talented and has charisma and potential, but he just doesn’t do much for me. “Get Here” was a very mesmerizing performance that made him into a contender for the final in Season 1 (even though he really was no match for Kelly). What’s funny is that he was on Oprah performing this a few weeks after the finale, and I remember it more than the first time.

46. “Sin Wagon,” Amy Adams (Season 3). Amy was another contestant that was booted a few weeks too early. While that didn’t happen until Week 3 of the finals, “Sin Wagon”, performed on Country Night, proved that she deserved to be there. Spunky and energetic, Amy fit this song perfectly and pulled it out of the hat with no problem at all. I remember echoing to myself “Praise the Lord!” while I first watched her…but I didn’t go around asking people to pass me the ammunition.

45. “Trouble,” Carrie Underwood (Season 4). True, Carrie still has a way to go on her stage presence, but I really thought she did a great job on “Trouble”. It’s not an easy song with all the tempo changes, but her voice stayed right on with it note-for-note to the end. It was another venture outside her comfort zone, and it worked. And hey, you just HAVE to admire her mic stand kick. She probably pretended it was Simon.

44. “I’ll Be,” Josh Gracin (Season 2). I love Edwin McCain, but I was really sick of “I’ll Be” for a long time. Josh came out in Group 4 of the top 32 and breathed some life back into it for me. Great control, good stage presence, and the clean-cut, All-American Marine image enhanced the song and helped propel Josh into the Top 12. From then on, it was an interesting ride….with a few push-ups along the way.

43. “As Long as He Needs Me,” Nadia Turner (Season 4). This was one of only two performances on the disappointing Broadway Night that were worth talking about. Nadia came out at the end of the night in an absolutely gorgeous blue dress and delivered an enthralling rendition of a Broadway song that I barely knew (and I love me some showtunes). It was also the night Simon declared her a steak among a bunch of hamburgers. Fillet? KC Strip? Ribeye? C’mon, Simon, you should have elaborated on that a little more. Ooh, now I have a sudden craving for a fillet…

42. “Proud Mary,” Trenyce (Season 2). Trenyce has been making news for her mysterious e-mails to her fans about the Idol expose’ and her admitted tryst with Corey Clark. While my opinion of her is pretty low right now, I do want to recognize her awesome performance from Neil Sedaka night. It was another situation where a contestant was booted after their best night. Trenyce came out in a, um, colorful costume and pretty much took this song to town, leaving everything on the stage. The only thing that would have made it absolutely perfect was if she added in the arm-rolling thing that Tina does. Oh well.

41. “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” Frenchie Davis (Season 2). I will say that this is the only non semifinal/final performance on the list, but BOY does it need to be recognized. It really was a shame that Frenchie got the boot before the country got to see more of her. This audition at first glance seemed a bit too over-the-top, but a second look at it really sold me. She would have been a blast to watch! I think this song is from Dreamgirls, which she ended up starring in on Broadway. Although she did get screwed by Idol, she seems to be doing just fine nowadays. 


Some questions to think about for Part 2:

1. Does the shark have pretty teeth?

2. Who is a link in your chain?

3. Do lonely rivers flow to the sea?

PART 2: 40-31

40. “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Christina Christian (Season 1). At first, I wasn’t very impressed with Christina. Her voice wasn’t very powerful, and her stage presence seemed a little stiff. However, 70’s week came around, and it was a brief turning point for her. This Bill Withers song was absolutely PERFECT for her voice, and she sold it!! The small, bleating vibrato enhanced the smokiness of the performance and probably caused Simon to drool in his Coke cup.

39. “Circle of Life,” Jennifer Hudson (Season 3). Jennifer scored points from me for picking a song from The Lion King (the best Disney movie ever) on Elton John night. She scored even more points from Elton himself and the judges for delivering a towering performance. Her booming voice was a great match for a song with such gusto and magnificence. What did not air was a subsequent impromptu performance of “Hakuna Matata” by Simon and Randy.

38. “Mack the Knife,” Clay Aiken (Season 2). This was the Judges’ Pick for Clay in the Top 3 show. It’s the kind of song that naysayers would have a field day with: “Broadway” Clay singing a “lounge lizard” tune. Well, it’s a pretty cool song (NOT lounge music) that Clay belted out like there was no tomorrow (including an impressive glory note at the end), and that’s all that matters. Big Band music rocks my world, too. And every time that Clay got to the line that said “Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear,” I wanted to yell at my TV, “NO, Clay….YOU have pretty teeth, my dear!”

37. “Time in a Bottle,” Bo Bice (Season 4). In was the arguably the best show of Season 4, Bo put his own spin on one of my mom’s favorite songs. His gritty timbre didn’t overshadow Jim Croce’s smoother tone on the original, but brought a whole new audience to it, including yours truly. I would love to hear a recorded version sometime….we’ll see what happens.

36. “Minnie the Moocher,” Tamyra Gray (Season 1). Big Band night in Season 1 was so much fun. It was the first time that a live band would be used all season, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was not familiar with “Minnie,” and Tamyra sure made me pay attention to it. Jazzy, but fun, with a little scat singing, this number further proved her to be a contender.

35. “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” George Huff (Season 3). Bounce, bounce, everybody bounce! What a fun performance!! George was easily the most likeable contestant of Season 3, and one of the most likeable contestants of the franchise overall, and he certainly put his fun personality into this song! While Ruben did a credible job with it in Season 2, George breathed new life into it and proved that he belonged there with Fanny, LaToya, and Co. I can’t remember what he wore that night, but I do know that it didn’t prompt Simon to make any cow jokes.

34. “Amazed,” Josh Gracin (Season 2). After the Disco Night travesty that was “Celebration,” Josh redeemed himself the following week by going out and absolutely owning this Lonestar gem. Heck, he even sounded just like them! He was definitely born to sing this type of music, and he is currently doing just that and having some well-deserved success. I know there were some that deemed him the Nikki McKibbin of Season 2, but I never felt that way at all. When Josh is in his element, he is definitely on. You go, Josh!

33. “(Ain’t Goin’ Down) Till the Sun Comes Up,” LaToya London (Season 3). Who would’ve thought that LaToya could pull such a fast-lyric song like this off? Certainly not yours truly! LaToya came out on Country Night and didn’t miss a beat! Even Darth Simon was on his feet clapping along! Could this have been an attempt by Princess LaToya to save him from Emperor Simon Fuller Palpatine and the Dark Side? Well….it almost worked. Note: I’ve been on such a Star Wars kick lately. I was afraid it was going to seep out sooner or later. ‘Scuse me.

32. “Chain of Fools,” Vonzell Solomon (Season 4). This song has certainly been done to death on Idol. Vonzell’s performance was definitely one of the better ones out there. I wasn’t all that impressed with her during the Top 24 semifinals, but once she got into the Top 12, she took a huge step in the right direction. Her strong, fun-loving personality, coupled with some spot-on vocals brought some true, natural soul to COF, and made Top 3 night a true competition. There is no doubt in my mind that Vonzie will get a record deal soon, but if things were to not work out for some reason (And if Quiana Parler moves on to establish a solo career), I would love it if she were to tour with Clay and do the COF duet. They’d do some good growling together.

31. “Unchained Melody,” Clay Aiken (Season 2). When Clay announced on Top 3 night that he would be performing this for Faye, I got tremendously excited. And he didn’t disappoint!! He absolutely soared, and delivered a very well-placed high note towards the end. Not to mention that Justin G. performed a rather popped-up rendition the following night on the results show, and fell flat on his face (again, sorry Justin fans…I couldn’t resist.). The only thing that kept me from ranking it higher was the fact that the arrangement was way too fast


Some questions to think about for Part 3: 

1. What is another name for a humorous significant other?

2. What early '80s movie starred a very young River Phoenix and a bunch of other preteen boys?

3..Who does the best "ooh-oohs" in the business? 

PART 3: 30-21

30. “Flying Without Wings,” Ruben Studdard (Season 2). I really liked Ruben in the earlier rounds of Season 2, but he started to get too complacent for me, and that “Ruben magic” was missing from his performances as he got further and further in the competition. FWOW on the Tuesday finale brought that magic back for me. While many critics slammed the song, I sat there watching and wishing that I had a lighter so I could sway it around.

29. “Try a Little Tenderness,” Nadia Turner (Season 4). Nadia has some of the best stage presence I’ve ever seen. She may be the Queen of Odd Song Choices, but for the most part, her performance skills more than made up for it. This was definitely a song that I didn’t know, but even now I can still remember what it sounded like. I am a fan of arrangements that start out slow, and then explode with an up-tempo climax, so I totally ate this up. Weird as the song may have been, it was definitely the one she needed to secure herself a spot in the Top 12.

28. “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” Vonzell Solomon (Season 4). After stumbling with “How Do I Live,” Vonzie came back with a vengeance. She was absolutely born to sing this! I did not detect any vocal flaws, and of course, her personality gave the song that extra “oomph”. It also seemed to be some sort of subliminal message to her fans: “Don’t leave me this way, guys!” And of course, they didn’t!

27. “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” Diana DeGarmo (Season 3). Clive Davis did the right thing by picking this song for Diana on Top 3 night of Season 3. It’s quite an obscure song (to me, anyway), but she absolutely nailed it! Clive was very impressed with what he heard, too. It’s really a shame that RCA didn’t give her much promotion after the show. Maybe they’ll reconsider when she’s a little older.

26. “My Funny Valentine,” Constantine Maroulis (Season 4). This was the only other song besides Nadia’s ALAHNM worth mentioning on Broadway night. The hilarious thing is that Connie claimed to be a rocker, but delivered some serious goods on this number by becoming a crooner. Soooooo……rocker + crooner =…crocker? Ok, so Connie “crocked” and pouted his way to becoming a contender with MFV. But I kind of wished he’d lightened up on the pouting. A few pouts here and there is sexy, but 30 of them in 2 minutes?? That’s a smidge of a distraction. You’re still cool anyway, Connie.

25. “No More Tears (Enough is Enough),” Diana DeGarmo (Season 3). I am not a fan of Disco night on Idol. To me, that’s almost begging to be called a glorified karaoke cheesefest. Nevertheless, there are always a few disco performances that are worthy of watercooler buzz. Diana’s was one of them. She starts out slow, and slowly builds to an explosive chorus, exhibiting wonderful vocal control, and matured performance skill….and I did not trace any evidence of karaoke. To me, this was the performance that secured Diana’s spot in the finale.

24. “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” LaToya London (Season 3). Another Big Band night!! Why didn’t they do this for Seasons 2 and 4?? Oh well. Anyway, DROMP (what an acronym) was the best performance of the night, and prompted me to give LaToya a standing O in my living room. I loved how resonant her tone sounded on it and how well she held her notes. She was so robbed!

23. “Stand By Me,” Bo Bice (Season 4). I wasn’t sure how Bo would handle SBM. I really wasn’t. It always seemed like a song that was too vocally easy. Bo surprised me by pulling off one of his best vocal performances to date. Nicely held notes and a good rock growl made it sound like I was hearing it for the first time. And hey….he didn’t have on his sunglasses (the sunglasses are OK, but not always appropriate)!! Insert your own judge joke here because I’m fresh out right now. 

22. “Build Me Up Buttercup,” Clay Aiken (Season 2). Neil Sedaka night was my favorite night of Season 2, and arguably of all 4 seasons. This was due largely in part by Mr. Aiken and his “Buttercup”. Clay came out and brought about 2000 kJ of energy with him dipping, diving, slipping, and sliding round the stage. Not to mention that his voice was technically and emotionally perfect for such a “dorky” song. Neil himself proclaimed Clay the Andre Agassi of Idol and threatened to kill anyone else that dared offer him a record deal. Fortunately for Clive Davis and Co., Neil wasn’t serious about the killing part.

21. “Crying,” Carrie Underwood (Season 4). I disagreed with Simon about this performance being “wooden”. Carrie’s voice flowed with the violins perfectly, and I felt a definite air of “sadness” in it. I thought it was the most emotion Carrie put in a ballad to date. Simon’s girlfriend probably needs to screw him over some time…maybe then he’ll do his own version of “Crying.”


Here are some questions to think about for Part 4:

1. What do a plane, a train, and an automobile have in common?

2. What is the current time of year?

3. What apparatus is used to aid in a form of punishment? 

PART 4: 20-11

20. “Best of My Love,” Vonzell Solomon (Season 4). Vonzie is adorable. One of the most likeable contestants of Season 4. This performance officially told me who she was and showed me what she could do….and that is LIGHT UP THE STAGE!! Usually whenever I hear BOML I think of the ABC Family Channel (not sure why), but now if I hear it, I picture Vonzell up there walking around on the catwalk behind the judges, interacting with the audience, and singing her little heart out. It was truly her beginning as the “dark horse” of the season.

19. “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Kim Locke (Season 2). This is another one of my mom’s favorite songs, and Kim sure did it justice! Very haunting, and her rich timbre gave it a sultrier vibe. The competition did indeed start for her with this performance, and began to make me more of a fan of hers. I wonder what Bonnie Raitt and Nancy Wilson thought of it…

18. “Whipping Post,” Bo Bice (Season 4). I never listened to the Allman Brothers Band, so I was not familiar with this song. But boy, did I want to be after watching this performance! Bo came out and brought a whole new flavor to the concept of Idol by showing off his rock roots and absolutely commanding everyone’s attention! It was also the debut of Bo’s signature mic stand carry, which now has a place in the Heart Pitter-Patter Hall of Fame.

17. “Stuff Like That There,” Kelly Clarkson (Season 1) . Kelly showed she was the one to beat with this performance. She chose a song that was a perfect showcase for her voice in the Big Band genre, wore her hair in a very appropriate (and darn cute) style, wore a great outfit, and conquered. She was Miss Versatility, and just kept on going in the following weeks. Again, insert your own judge joke here because I still can’t think of anything.

16. “What a Wonderful World,” Anwar Robinson (Season 4). It’s really a shame that Anwar didn’t live up to his potential on the show most weeks. It seems to me that he was thinking too much during the performances, and not feeling enough. WAWW was a big exception. I LOVED the bluesy arrangement, and Anwar totally felt what he was singing. The emotion led to an automatically pitch-perfect performance that I wish he would have recorded on the Showstoppers CD. I’m still crossing my fingers that he records it someday because I will totally buy it, whatever format it comes out in. And Simon, we just know you listen to this song in your free time, you old softie, you.

15. “A House is Not a Home,” Tamyra Gray (Season 1). Ok, I admit that I actually missed this performance. However, it did get quite a bit of Season 1 watercooler talk, so I downloaded the mp3 to see what the fuss was about. It’s really interesting, because you could totally hear the nerves in Tamyra’s voice. However, the nerves quickly took on the role of sadness and loneliness and made it work! What a bone-chiller!! Anwar and Ruben were the other contestants to tackle this song, and they could not even come close to the emotional intensity Tamyra put in it. To me, this song belongs to her.

14. “A Whole New World,” Ruben Studdard (Season 2). Roo sounded so much like Peabo Bryson on this song, it was somewhat scary! It was also the night Gladys Knight dubbed him the Velvet Teddy Bear. It’s another song that I would have liked to hear an updated recorded version of, but I think it’s doubtful right now. Nevertheless, it was still great, classic Ruben. Dang, my jokes are escaping me…

13. “Vehicle,” Bo Bice (Season 4). When it was announced that the April 19 theme would be Seventies Dance night, I was horror-stricken. That’s another way to say “disco”, and you know how cheesy I think Disco night always is! Well, this was a very disco-y show that didn’t do much for me at all….until Bo came out at the end and saved the show. Great God in heaven, this rocked! Mic stand domination, running around the stage, growling vocals….this was rock n’ roll showmanship at its best. And hey, it’s a seventies song that you can still dance to. What would have made it even better was if Simon was shown slam-dancing in a mosh pit the audience created.

12. “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” Clay Aiken (Season 2). This performance holds a very special place in my heart. Clay’s original audition was quite a shock, and really intrigued me. However, I declared to keep an open mind for a while longer before I decided who to pull for. For a couple weeks, I was torn between Clay and Roo, but DLTSGDOM sealed the deal. Clay looked dashing wearing a Miami Vice-like suit that enhanced his lanky but lean frame, and delivered a truly effortless performance. His timbre was smooth, the dynamics of his voice flowed perfectly with the song, and his jade greens glowed with a subtle passion as he looked both relaxed and “into the moment”. I didn’t look into any mirrors after he was finished, but if I would have, I’m sure my pupils turned into hearts....another definite induction into the Heart Pitter-Patter Hall of Fame.

11. “Summertime,” Fantasia Barrino (Season 3). I’m not a huge fan of Fantasia. I like her personality, and she DOES have talent, but her timbre is too scratchy and rough on my ears, and her diction drives me up the wall. So why is she one notch above DLTSGDOM? Well….it just happened to come out this way (and that pained me). But you have to admit….this was a fantastic performance. She really did bare her soul on this song, and demonstrated the most vocal flow she would have all season. It also goes to show that sitting sprawled out on the stage can work.


Some questions to think about for the Top 10:

1. If you think about Manhattan a lot, what are you experiencing?

2. What are 3 ways to say "solo"?

3. Who is Silvergirl? 


10. “New York State of Mind,” Kim Locke (Season 2). Prior to Billy Joel Week, Kimberley was being treated rather unfairly by voters. She had been giving solid performances every week, but was in the Bottom 3 three times! Then came NYSOM. I had my doubts, since this wasn’t my favorite Billy song at the time, but after the first couple notes, my brain was silenced. Her voice was absolutely PERFECT for it! Not to mention, she looked gorgeous in her outfit and matching beret. She chose the perfect time to step up and tell the public, “THIS is why you should vote for me!” And it worked.

9. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Constantine Maroulis (Season 4). “Astonishing.” That was the only word Simon used in his critique of Connie’s performance. And he was pretty much dead on. It was quite a large risk picking such an “anthemic” song like this, but Connie did the right amount of crooning at the beginning, and the right amount of rocking toward the end to turn it into one of the top performances of the season. Even the editing was well-done, weeding it down from a 6-minute song to a 2-minute song and keeping cohesion. It motivated me to dig out my Wayne’s World soundtrack that I hadn’t listened to in about 7 years. The only thing that bummed me was the fact that the edited-out part was my favorite of the whole song. Wouldn’t it have been hysterical to hear Connie chirp out “I see a little silhouette-o of a man…Scaramouche! Scaramouche! Will you do the Fandango?” I would have dug that.

8. “All By Myself,” LaToya London (Season 3). LaToya was the “Who?” girl of Season 3’s Top 32. And she sure answered that question during her round of 8! She pretty much walloped the other 7 with an extremely resonant, clear, and controlled rendition that I think seriously rivals Celine’s (Yes, I said it)! It was a fantastic first impression that pretty much held up the rest of her run on the show. My friend and I predicted she would end up in the Top 3, but we were one daggone spot off. I’m tellin’ ya, she was robbed!

7. “To Love Somebody,” Clay Aiken (Season 2). In hindsight, it seems as though there really wasn’t much watercooler buzz about this performance. That could be partly due to the fact that Mr. Hipshake made his debut that same night, causing estrogen levels around the country to skyrocket to dangerous levels, and cementing a permanent spot in the Heart Pitter-Patter Hall of Fame (but I digress). TLS was indeed one of Clay’s most professional performances on the show. Everything, from his clean-cut brown suit to his relaxed confident presence to his soaring voice, made it look like he had been doing it for 20 years. It was yet another moment where he seemed to be saying “I’m the real thing, and I’m here to stay.”

6. “Without You,” Kelly Clarkson (Season 1). This was one of the few Judges’ Round songs throughout all 4 seasons that worked. It was a huge challenge taking on an EXTREMELY difficult song that only Mariah Carey and Harry Nilson (the original artist) have tackled, and an even bigger challenge to overcome that kind of pressure, coupled with the pressure of the competition. Kelly had been giving excellent performances every week, but her speaking voice was very nearly gone by the Top 3. How would her singing voice do this? Well, she did it. She took every iota of vocal muscle she had left in her, and nailed every daggone note! My roommate at the time and I sat in our dorm room watching that night, and afterwards, she turned to me and said, “Ooh, she’s gonna win!” All I could say was “Yup.” ‘Nuff said.

5. “Alone,” Carrie Underwood (Season 4). This was the first performance of Season 4 to give me chills! Just when I thought Carrie was never going to step outside the country music box, she did just that, and chose the p-e-r-f-e-c-t song for her voice. Her timbre didn’t sound much different than Ann Wilson’s, so it was almost like reliving the original 1987 version. It actually made me glad for the extra show so I could watch it again. I wasn’t really crazy about the high-teased hair, but it’s an 80’s song, and she dressed the part….nothing wrong with that. I’m just glad she didn’t put on 40 lbs of blue eyeshadow.

4. “Solitaire,” Clay Aiken (Season 2). Neil Sedaka had good reason to cry. Not only did he have a brilliantly-written song already in his library, but that song received a glorious rejuvenation by Clay. And all Clay did was stand there and sing. With only one light on in the entire auditorium, which was very appropriately fixated on him, Clay was frozen in place. His face was somewhat stoic, yet hints of sadness seemed to be slowly igniting in his eyes as the song progressed. The light made him look 10 years younger, highlighting his cheekbones and allowing a few freckles to poke through. He looked pale, fragile, breakable….almost traveling back in time to the geeky-yet-vivacious little boy he would one day write about. His body did not move an inch, except for a couple slight tilts of the head, and the contorting of his lips in song. His voice showed wonderful range, yet understated what the song really meant to him. The audience didn’t know it yet, but he was singing of real-life abandonment. And he decided to wait another year to fully tell them. Right then, on that stage that night, he was just there to sing. He was just there to perform. He was just there to be “Solitaire”. And he was.

3. “Natural Woman,” Kelly Clarkson (Season 1). This was the second time I ever saw Kelly, and it was definitely the most vivid memory I have of her Idol run. 3 big things happened here: 1. Kelly wore the cutest outfit EVER, looking like a 21st-century Punky Brewster in her overalls and fedora. 2. Towards the end of the song, she unleashes a high note that, although beautiful, almost seemed inhuman. 3. After she was finished, a fan immediately comes up to the stage, kisses her on the cheek, and gives her flowers. Aside from those standouts, the rest was pure, pitch-perfect beauty. It was the night that the country truly got to see what that “dorky” little Texas girl was made of. She may not have been show much at all in the early rounds, but that night began a period of Idol history that people will never forget.

2. “In A Dream,” Bo Bice (Season 4). Hoe. Lee. Cow. This was the performance of Season 4. While Bo was the most consistent one, he needed a huge performance to pull out ahead of Carrie and Vonzell, both of whom I feel he was tied with before Top 3 night. Singing without the band was indeed a risk. I’ve sung a capella both solo and with choir ensembles in high school and college, and I can tell you that it is NOT easy to stay on pitch without accompaniment. Without any instruments to compare to, may people easily veer off and go sharp or flat without even noticing it. Bo stayed on pitch perfectly throughout the entire song, and showed more vocal range than he had all season. Even though it didn’t win him the competition, it earned him a mention in the Idol history book.

And now, the King of Idol performaces…

1. “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” Clay Aiken (Season 2). Where do I begin with this one? I remember exactly what I was doing the night it happened. I had just finished my third year of college, and was home for a week before going back for a couple summer classes. My mom decided to watch Idol with me, even though she had only seen one episode. While we watched, she noted how Ruben didn’t seem to be living up to all the hype, and that Clay was edging him out. Then came BOTW. Clay starts out with a nice, flowing baritone, filled the chorus with a clear ringing tenor, and ends with a MONSTER of a glory note that pretty much blasts the roof off of the Universal Amphitheatre. As I watched him, a sense of pride was washing over me, like I was watching a relative, or my best friend perform. I fought tears through most of the song as I sat there thinking, He’s doing it….he’s really doing it! When Clay hit his last note, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Tears began to stream down my face, and I unknowingly began to slide out of my chair. My mom gave me an odd look at first, then seemed to understand the effect Clay’s performance had on me. “He gets my vote,” she said calmly. It was also dinnertime when the show was over, but I was unable to eat due to the rollercoaster of emotions that were churning inside of me. I forced down what I could, then ran upstairs to my bedroom to vote. I could only get 1 vote in the whole time, but that almost didn’t matter to me as I kept reliving Clay’s performance in my head and continued fighting tears. No performance ANYWHERE had ever done anything like that to me. And it was highly unlikely that any other performances ever would.