The first performance night of American Idol’s Season 8 final performers took place on Tuesday night. The theme for the evening was Michael Jackson.
But more important, back in 2003, the first big stage episode of Season 2 was Motown. There were four judges on the March 11th show. Simon, Paula and Randy were joined by Lamont Dozier. Dozier is best known as a member of a songwriting and production team that was responsible for much of the Motown sound and numerous hit records by artists such as Martha & the Vandellas, The Supremes, and The Four Tops. He was a perfect pick for a Motown judge.
Kimberley Locke started off the evening. She chose the song “Heatwave.” The judges all seemed to agree that her performance was just OK. However Lamont enjoyed her energy.
A short video clip introduced the audience to Josh Gracin, a Marine who married his high school sweetheart. Josh sang “Baby I Need Your Lovin'”. All the judges said it was a good job except Simon who got into a push-up contest with Josh.
Charles Grigsby seemed like a nice young man, but vocally, his voice was not strong. Singing “How Sweet It Is,” it was immediately apparent that Charles did not capture the feeling of the song.
College student, Ricky Smith, told the audience that his school paid for him to attend the AI audition. Nerves seemed to get the best of Ricky as he seemed to miss his cue to the start of his song, “1,2,3.” But, as he settled in, he got much better. All the judges were positive except…..yep……..Simon.
Although Julia Dematto sang in tune, her rendition of “Where Did Our Love Go” was difficult to watch as Julia seemed to have trouble moving with the beat of the music. The judges commented that she looked very nice, but little was said about her singing.
The clip that introduced Clay Aiken to the audience made it clear that Clay had another passion in his life which was teaching students with disabilities. In the clip, Clay confessed that his camp name was Gonzo and he let some students duct tape him to the wall.
Clay sang “Can’t Help Myself and the moment he opened his mouth, the strength of his voice and his range was up front. He seemed to command the stage and even though he didn’t move a lot, the audience was having fun. Clay earned the first standing ovation of the show. Randy said he was brilliant and Paula was amazed and thanked Clay. The support of the audience must have been overwhelming as Clay kept saying thank you to the judges and audience.
Poor Vanessa Olivarez had to follow Clay and she sang “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” Randy and Paula thought she was very pitchy and Simon said she reminded him of Bette Midler.
Corey Clark was next and sang “This Old Heart Of Mine.” Most of the judges were happy with his performance and Lamont thought he was a young Smokey Robinson.
“You Can’t Hurry Love” was the song choice for Carmen Rasmusen. This young girl from Utah was very pretty on the stage, but had a strange vibrato in her voice that many listeners found unusual. The judges all agreed that she did a great job and Simon said he was glad that he picked her.
Trenyce was next and she had a strong performance. Singing “Come See About Me'”, she had strong vocals and great stage presence. She received a standing ovation from the judges.
The last performer of the evening was Ruben Studdard. Ruben sang “Baby I Need Your Lovin” and his voice was beautiful. He had a good time on the stage and put his own touch on the song. Simon thought that Ruben was ready for a recording career.
The following evening, “Heatwave” was the first group song. The group seemed to enjoy the performance and it was a good introduction to the entire cast. The results section of the show was a nervous time for the performers and the audience too. After too long of a wait, Vanessa was “booted” from the show.
Take a look at the performance of “Can’t Help Myself by Clay Aiken and then you can watch the Group performance of “Heatwave.”