The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

American Idols Reunite

On Oct. 27, I gathered with about 16,000 of my closest friends to watch the next episode of “American Idol.” Capitalizing on the phenomenal success of the television series, the tour reunites the top 10 finalists in a concert that recognizes young talent. Performing to a sold out crowd at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, the idols were energetic, enthusiastic and some shined with superstar potential.

Equipped with huge video screens, a live band and backup singers, smoke and a whole lot of explosions, the concert was a spectacle in true pop form. Attracting an audience of all ages, the top 10 finalists all received warm receptions. As to be expected, however, screams were the loudest for Idol runner-up Justin Guarini and the American Idol herself, Kelly Clarkson.

Opening the show was the charismatic and newly blonde, Ejay Day. Although his new hairstyle resembled a wet mop, he performed a high-energy and crowd-pleasing rendition of Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat.” Next up was Jim Verraros, who emerged from the stage barefoot and on a park bench. He has a pleasant voice, but absolutely no stage presence and simply paced around like a scared little kid. Following him was another lackluster performance by AJ Gil, whose most memorable feature was his fuzzy pink hat.

Things started to improve with the emergence of Ryan Starr, who, despite clothing that resembled an intense cat fight, got the crowd going with “If You Really Love Me.” Brooklyn-born Christina Christian took to the stage next and delivered a spicy performance, complete with Shakira-esque hip shaking and sultry vocals. RJ Helton appeared next, sending the crowd of prepubescent girls into a daze as he convincingly crooned Stevie Wonder’s “Lately.” The big-voiced diva-in-training Tamyra Gray was up next, performing a cover of “I’m Every Woman” that would have made Whitney proud. Resident rocker Nikki McKibbin took the stage next, and although she was good, it’s hard to believe she lasted as long as she did in the competition.

As McKibbin left the stage, she introduced America’s most recognizable afro, Justin Guarini. He had every woman in the audience in the palm of his hand with his soulful signature piece “Get Here.” He was the epitome of a natural performer, working the crowd and his hair like a seasoned pro. Last to take the stage prior to intermission was Kelly Clarkson. Like Guarini before her, she commanded the stage, performing one of her Idol-winning tunes, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” She paused briefly to recognize the audience and wave to fans, who began leaving at the mention of intermission. However, most in the arena stopped dead in their tracks as Clarkson reprised the song, eventually singing right off the stage, “See ya in twenty.”

The second half kept up the high energy, beginning with the five guys forming their own boy band and tackling N’SYNC’s “Pop,” complete with intense choreography. The five girls convincingly worked the stage next with En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind,” which vocally put the boys to shame.

The solo performances continued into the second half with McKibbin and Gray each getting one, while Clarkson and Guarini each had two. Gray showed her vocal prowess on the Bacharach classic “A House is Not a Home,” while unofficial group spokesman Guarini worked it on “Let’s Stay Together.” It’s also safe to say that America got it right in choosing Clarkson as the winner, as she possessed an amazing, soulful sound on “Natural Woman” and surprising vocal prowess on the cookie-cutter pop ballad “Before Your Love.”

However, the second half of the show revolved heavily around medleys and group interaction. Although it was often reminiscent of a Brady Bunch variety hour, it allowed the finalists to let down their hair and bust a move. Sometimes, however, they busted a little too hard, as the usually smooth Ryan Starr fell down the stairs face first, but immediately laughed it off and received hugs from the other four females, who were also in hysterics. Dancing and singing to the tunes of the Motown and Disco eras, the performances captured the amiable chemistry between the top 10 finalists, notably Guarini and Clarkson.

As the show wound to its conclusion, the top 10 re-emerged, exchanging leads on “That’s What Friends Are For” and “I’ll Be There.” They heartily thanked the audience for coming and appeared to be genuinely enjoying the now thunderous applause. As they left the stage two by two, we were left to wonder who we’ll actually see on stage again. For some, such as the last-to-leave Clarkson and Guarini, success seems inevitable, as it does for Gray. For many of the others, 15 minutes may be coming to a close.

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