Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Who will survive “Idol’s” opening round?

February 19, 2009

The judges on ”American Idol” broke down many of the first 12 competitors to take the cowellstage Tuesday night, saving their praise for a widower and a 21-year-old mom. Who will survive and who will go down on Wednesday night’s results show?

If “Idol” voters take their cue from the judges, the three competitors who will make it through will be Alexis Grace, Danny Gokey and either Anoop Desai, Rick Braddy, Michael Sarver or Tatiana Del Toro. The judges had very little good to say about the rest of the contestants.

As far as how much voters take their cues from the judges, that became a matter of debate on Tuesday night’s show. When his fellow panelists told Simon Cowell it was up to the voters to decide which contestants advance, Cowell had a ready reply.

“Yes, but they listen to me,” he said.

If the voters did listen to Cowell, they must like the sounds of Alexis Grace, a 21-year-old mother of one from Memphis, Tennessee. All the judges had nice things to say about Grace, who sang the Aretha Franklin hit “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You.” Even the notoriously tough Cowell told the singer she reminded him of Kelly Clarkson, who won the first season of “Idol” in 2002 and is one of Cowell’s all-time favorites.

Danny Gokey, 28, a church music director who lost his wife to congenital heart disease last year, also pleased the judges when he took the stage and sang the Mariah Carey hit “Hero.” After a number of unimpressive contestants, judge Randy Jackson called Gokey the “redeemer of the night.”

Who will the voters choose? Are there any chances for a surprise contestant like 17-year-old Stevie Wright or country singer Brent Keith to make it through, despite bad reviews from the judges? 

Next week, another dozen contestants take the stage for a second elimination round, followed by a third round of 12 the following week. With 36 contestants in all, ”Idol” still has a lot of weeding to do.

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