Season II of American Idol was unique in many ways. The season introduced the “wildcard”, a top 12, fabulous group performances, great contestant commercials, and an hour show in the middle of the season called “Halfway Home.”
“Halfway Home” was an hour long special hosted by Ryan Seacrest. The judges stayed away and the entire show was a showcase of the remaining American Idol musicians.
Carmen Rasmussen started the program. After the short video clip, Carmen talked about how difficult it was to recover from some of Simon’s harsh comments. She said that she just decided to realize that you do the best you can and just hope that you can prove yourself another week.
“Can’t Hurry Love” was the song that Carmen chose to sing and she looked happy and comfortable during the performance.
The next contestant was Josh Gracin. Ryan tried hard to get Josh to say some negative things about Simon, but Josh didn’t fall for the bait. Josh said that Simon was an honest man who sometimes is too honest. He also said that Simon is true to himself and to others. An audience member asked Josh what luxury will he miss that he has gotten used to. Josh said being able to sleep later than usual.
Josh chose to sing “Amazed” and it was a good song for him. He sang it very well.
The evolution of style was the theme for Kim Locke. Her video showed her many looks throughout the episodes.
Kim chose to sing “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” She did a good job. She told Ryan that she wanted to sing it to him, while sitting with him on the couch but the producers would not go along with that idea.
The next contestant journey was with Ruben. Ryan had fun teasing Ruben about his love of manicures and pedicures. Ruben said he had them every two weeks and was doing this before he started American Idol.
Ruben admitted that he was sad that Rickey was voted off. He said that they became close and that he felt Rickey was very talented. He said he hoped that everyone would buy Rickey’s album when it came out.
“Superstar” was the song that Ruben chose to sing. It was the song that Ruben performed in the Hollywood rounds and eventually was recorded for the AI2 Love Songs CD.
Following Ruben in the show was Trenyce. Ryan started the conversation by reminding everyone that Trenyce was a wildcard contestant. She said she found out she made it by reading her name on the TV. She said it was posted before anyone called her.
Trenyce chose “I Have Nothing” to perform. The powerful singer did a good job.
Finally, the last contestant of the evening was Clay Aiken. Again, the make-over was the first thing that Ryan brought up and showed in the video clips. Clay said that the changes were just hair and glasses and he was the same young man.
After a discussion of what Clay was doing before American Idol, Ryan asked Clay if his life was going in the right direction. Clay’s response was that he loved working with children with special needs and that is where his heart remains. However, he had already learned how much influence celebrity brings to his projects. Clay told us that he had learned that the YMCA and Autism Society in Raleigh had been receiving donations from fans all over the country. He graciously thanked his fans and seemed amazed that this was happening.
Clay sang “Somewhere Out There” and it was an even better performance than the first time he sang it. His performance seemed to light up the stage.
The entire hour was filled with wonderful music and interesting back stage tidbits. It was an enjoyable evening without the tension of the judges and the possibility of being voted off.
The following video shows how relaxed Clay was on this night and how extraordinary his voice was that night.