Hippo Manchester
July 28, 2005


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Idolatry comes to the V

American Idol stars are here and it’s too late to vote them off

By Richie Victorino

I preface this with this fair warning: I am an Idol-maniac.

I’m not sure how it happened. I blame it on my roommates who have watched since season one. I swear I only signed on during season three, when Fantasia blew me away and Jon S. made me laugh with his rendition of Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock.” So I have no memory of Reuben or Kelly. But I know all about Carrie, Bo, Constantine and the ever-persistent Anthony.

Now that I’ve set the record straight, let’s get to work. The idols are coming, which means we’ve got to remind ourselves who these lovable, yet forgettable, characters are. There are 10 coming, for better or for worse. Are you ready?  First up is your champion:

Carrie Underwood, Checotah, Okla. Winner.

Carrie’s a good ol’ country gal. She can sing damn fine but she can’t dance to save her life. Simon had a thing for this blond Oklahoman babe from the start, and his prediction of her winning became reality.  Country was her strong suit, particularly songs like “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.”

Favorite artists: George Michael and (sigh) Kelly Clarkson.

Other talents: Plays guitar, piano, and would like to be a drummer of a rock band.

Fun fact: Carrie can’t buy underwear. Hmm.

Bo Bice, Helena, Ala. Ousted on May 25.

Bo was the rocker who cracked the American Idol mold (with the help of Constantine) and nearly took the prize (perhaps for his career he’s blessed to be runner-up).  Bo proved he can perform like a true star, with the voice, the energy and the soul. This southern rocker nailed some tough southern rock gems, such as “Whipping Post.”

Favorite artists: Matchbox twenty and Sheryl Crow. (My God, Matchbox Twenty?  Jeez, and to think, I just praised him.)

Music background: Piano, guitar, bass, sax, harmonica.

Fun fact: He loves to cook.

Anthony Fedorov, Trevose, Pa. Ousted on May 11.

Well, Fedorov bored and amazed me at how long he lasted. I’m not sure who voted for him, but whoever it was, I’m coming after you.  He barely sang well, moved like a wet blanket in the wind, and had the personality of a chess junky (not that there’s anything wrong with chess). Sure, he may be nice, but he’s not an idol. My faith in America was returned when he was ousted on May 11.  I can’t even pick a song he nailed during the contest,  but he’ll be fun to watch.

Favorite artists: Marc Anthony and Mariah Carey, but he’s also an N’Sync fan.  Are any of us surprised by this?

Other talents: He’s a sports nut. Now that is surprising.

Fun fact: His favorite judge is Simon, (yeah, right), and he tripped on the carpet at his auditions in Cleveland after learning he was going to Hollywood

Vonzell Solomon, Fort Meyers, Fla. Ousted on May 18.

She was everybody’s sweetheart, but her smile didn’t work. Something about Vonzell (mail carrier by day) didn’t connect enough with the crowd. She had talent, but it was shaky and inconsistent, and sometimes she smiled too much. Yeah, we know you’re happy, but just sing, why don’t you?! Song she nailed —  “Chain of Fools,” I suppose.

Favorite artists: Usher and Beyonce.  (With those idols, why didn’t she dance more?)

Other talents: Martial arts and softball.

Fun fact: Her favorite judge was Randy.

Skott Savol, Shaker Heights, Ohio. Ousted on May 4.

I think people were hoping Mr. Savol would be the next Reuben Stoddard, but he choked. He had promise, and had the “screw Idol, I’m better than this” mentality, but instead of pressing with the gangster edge, he supplied us with a lovely array of less-than-manly tunes such as “Against All Odds” and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.” Yikes.

Favorite male artist: Usher.

Other talents: Used to play trumpet.

Fun fact: Skott’s proudest moment was the birth of his son.

Constatine Maroulis, New York, N.Y. Ousted on April 27.

Constatine was the surprise of the competition for two reasons. It was amazing he lasted so long after some initial horrid performances. But he did stay, and suddenly it seemed he was unstoppable. His hair, rocker attitude (though Bo was much more rock than him) and signature stare into the camera (that bordered on creepy) made him a favorite. His rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” was truly surprising and good. But the other surprise was the night he got ousted. Oh well, only one rocker was going to make it to the end anyway.

Favorite artists: Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin.

Other talents: Would like to be a pro athlete if not a professional singer.

Fun fact: He owns Like a Virgin by Madonna.

Anwar Robinson, Orange, N.J. Ousted on April 20.

It seemed at first that Anwar had the best natural talent as a singer of anyone else in the competition. His dread locks and wardrobe kept him looking cool in the spotlight; too bad he couldn’t stay cool under the pressure. He was as inconsistent as they come, including singing a less-than-impressive “Moon River” late in the competition. Earlier in the competition he probably would’ve nailed it.

Favorite artists: Stevie Wonder and Patti LaBelle.

Other talents: piano.

Fun fact: His lucky charm is a teddy bear, named Tenderheart, that his seventh-grade students gave him.

Nadia Turner, Miami, Fla. Ousted on April 13.

Nadia had talent and spunk but her attitude was too stand-offish. Her song choices hurt her, but her style (and various hair escapades) kept us entertained.  With better song choices she could’ve made it further, and she certainly still has a chance of making it in the business. She had good performances regularly, like with “I’m The Only One,” but she never truly blew us away.

Favorite artists: Prince and Tina Turner (not related to her).

Other talents: dancing, photography.

Fun fact: She’s an avid bowler.

Nikko Smith, Town & Country, Mo. Ousted April 6.

Nikko got a second chance at life when Mario Vasquez (who probably would’ve made it pretty far) opted out of the top 12 competition. Vasquez out, Smith in. In my opinion he never gave a good performance, but I know others who disagree. He had a style like Bell Biv Devoe and Jodeci, just not the talent. His song choices in theory were great, like “Georgia on My Mind” and “Let’s Get It On,” but he wasn’t ready for those challenges.

Favorite artists: Mario and JoJo.

Other talents: Nikko has a background in martial arts.

Fun fact: Related to Ozzy Smith (St. Louis Cardinal shortstop legend).

Jessica Sierra, Tampa, Fla. Ousted on March 30.

Jessica got knocked out of the competition exactly when she should have been. It could be argued whether she was good enough for the top 12. But she made it, and stayed just long enough for all of us to realize she didn’t have the goods. Her voice can be strong, although all too often it was all over the place. I can just hear Randy say, “I don’t know, it was just aaiight [sic] for me. Just aaiight,” Songs like “The Boys Are Back In Town” remind me of a karaoke performance.

Favorite artists: Elton John and Christina Aguilera.

Other talents: None, according to her.

Fun fact: She owns the Wiggles’ The Top Ten Wiggly Wiggly Tunes.