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With Norman Gentle, will comedy upend singing on “Idol”?

February 26, 2009

gentleIt was a pretty humdrum night on “American Idol” until Norman Gentle took the stage.

Until this season, every contestant to make it this far on the ultimate talent show has been unfailingly serious about their quest for fame (though, admittedly, the seriousness of Sanjaya Malakar’s 2007 turn is open to debate). They may tug at viewers’ heartstrings by saying they only want fame for the sake of family members who depend on them, and they may smile and joke, but none of them make a joke of the often humiliating process of laying it all out there on the “Idol” stage.

That has now changed with Nick Mitchell, who goes by the stage name Norman Gentle. Mitchell strutted onto the stage on Wednesday night wearing a 1980s headband, silver shirt, white tuxedo jacket with tails, and khaki shorts, writhing his way across the stage and all but prostrating himself in front of the “Idol” logo at the base of the judges’ table in an exaggerated parody of what contestants do every week on the show. Whereas other contestants sing their hearts out and then wait until afterward to ask America to vote for them, Mitchell just included a plea for votes right into his lyrics. He sang “And I Am Telling You” from the musical “Dreamgirls.” With lyrics like, ”I’m stayin’/ and you, and you/ you’re going to love me,” Mitchell was able to use the song to beg for his spot on the show.

Former ”Idol” contestant Jennifer Hudson sang the song in the movie version of “Dreamgirls” to wild critical acclaim, so the song is somewhat tied to the show. Even when Hudson sang it in the movie it had a story, because she was open about how her elimination from “Idol,” which came before her “Dreamgirls” role, was a crushing blow.

It remains to be seen if “Idol” voters will give him a chance to stay on. ”I hope I’m speaking on behalf of America when I pray you don’t go through to the next round,” said judge Simon Cowell. But the other three judges on the panel liked Mitchell’s performance, and everyone agreed it was different.

Other strong performers who received praise from the judges included 16-year-old redhead Allison Iraheta, who sang Heart’s “Alone,” and 26-year-old Adam Lambert, who has a background in musical theater and sang the Rolling Stones song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” The judges also had nice things to say about Arkansas native Kris Allen’s rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and Megan Joy Corkrey‘s version of Corinne Baily Rae’s “Put Your Records On.”

If Mitchell does make it through to next round, how could he change his act and do something different from begging for votes? Is he a one trick pony, or does he bring something fresh to the show? And did any of the 12 contestants on Wednesday night look like they could go all the way?



Honestly Norman Gentle AKA Nick Mitchell was the only one who entertained me last night….yeah it was wierd but everyone else was so boring. Im still waiting for someone to wow me. Norman is interesting I would like to see him stay

Posted by Jillian | Report as abusive

My family loves Norman, he is so funny! I really hope we get to see more of him.

Posted by Mickey | Report as abusive

Nick, Norman Rules!! He is why I am watching Idol this year. Everyone else is pretty hum-drum so far. And he can sing!! We all are just to busy wiping away our laughing tears that we don’t notice. I hope he stays!! My Mom and husband love him too!! No matter what I have a feeling that we will be seeing him again whether T.V. or the Movies!!

Posted by cindy | Report as abusive

i was almost to the point of pure bordem watching Americian Idol till Norman Gentle came on the i sat there busted out laughing out loud!!. For to many contestants to keep track of Simon Cowell has said they are “utterly forgetable” this will never apply to Norman Gentle love or hate him he is VERY enertaining!!

Posted by Gene | Report as abusive

Norman Gentle is the best participant that has ever step foot on the stage. He has a sense of charm, humer, and he can sing. It is SO SAD to see he had to leave, he may have help alot of people smile in th midst of everything. Bring Norman BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I really was glad to see Norman go off the stage and i hope its permanently. Lets be serious the man cant sing or dance.
Marik in Mo.

Posted by marik daniel | Report as abusive

Nick Mitchell was the most entertaining person on the show by far and when he really tried he could sing very well. The guy is obviously incredibly talented so to see him go is incredibly sad. I’m having a tough time finding a reason to look forward to the show in his absence. Everyone else on the show has been boring and forced on us by the producers. Kris Allen only got in because of the tween girls. A year or two from now nobody will even remember who Kris Allen was. Norman Gentle will go down in Idol history because he was unbelievably entertaining and pulled off something that nobody in the history of the show has been able to do. I can’t for the life of me understand how someone could watch Norman Gentle and not laugh their butt off.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

come back Norman!

Posted by Rebecca Price | Report as abusive

norm was the only one on american idol season 8 to really make me remember him!
I laughed my butt off. It is not that he can’t sing. You know he can because he hit those high notes, but he did it in a hilarious way. I hope they let him come back…

Posted by alyssa d. | Report as abusive

In the most tragic place of my life, where I haven’t laughed or smiled in two months, Nick’s performance tonight on the Idol finale had me hystercally burst out laughing. Wow! What a comedic genius. I hope you can see this Nick and please keep bringing us more Norman Gentle. I hope SNL snatches you up. You inspire.

Posted by Monica | Report as abusive

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