Sun. Jan 23rd, 2022

“If you lose it tonight, your career is over,” warned Simon Cowell to visibly nervous contestants on American Idol Wednesday night.The top 24 contestants performed live for the first time last week and, while some individuals are taking an early lead, four contestants have already had their dreams destroyed.


The top 12 female contestants began this week’s show with their performances. However, the drama began before the first contestant even appeared on the stage.

There was a notable change in the seating arrangement of the judges since Hollywood week, with Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres now on opposite ends of the table.

This added fuel to the persistent rumors that there has been tension between the new judge and Cowell, who will be leaving Idol after this season.

DeGeneres attempted to avoid Ryan Seacrest’s probing by teasing that Cowell “wanted her”, and showed an obviously edited video of him repeatedly touching her leg during Hollywood week, clearly a use of a distraction instead of directly confirming or denying the issue.

The first contestant was 22-year-old Paige Miles, who sang “All Right Now”.

Cowell, who normally seems to enjoy insulting contestants, was impressed by her performance, telling her, “Out of all of the girls, you have the best voice.”

While Miles received compliments from the judges, 19-yr-old Katelyn Epperly was not as fortunate.

After performing “Oh Darling,” Cowell, returning to his brutally honest style, said, “You are going to need an awful lot of work.”

Epperly quickly forgot this judgment after Kara DioGuardi criticized her outfit. An awkward moment and a vulgarity then occurred before Epperly was finally allowed to leave the stage.

A similar fate was given to Haeley Vaughn, 16, who shared during her pre-performance video that she got her nose pierced the day she was given the Golden Ticket to Hollywood.

Her performance of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” resulted in Cowell saying, “I thought it was verging on terrible,” comparing her to a “wind up doll.”

DeGeneres, who rarely had anything negative to say, defended her by telling Cowell, “If it was a mess, it was a hot mess.”

Another young contestant is 17-year-old Katie Stevens. During the auditions, she shared that her grandmother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and she wants her grandmother to be able to see her succeed.

This touching story, along with her voice, earned her a ticket to Hollywood and eventually a spot in the top 24.

However, the judges were not impressed with her song choice, “Feeling Good.”

The judges agreed that the song choice was too old for her, and they wanted her to perform more age-appropriate material.


On Wednesday night, the men were given their opportunity to perform for America and secure their votes.

Two talented men represent Pennsylvania this season of American Idol.

The first is 16-year-old Aaron Kelly, who resides in Sonestown. His performance of “Here Comes Goodbye” earned him compliments from the judges.

DioGuardi noted, “You have no idea how great your natural talent is.” She added, “I think we’re going to see incredible things from you.”

Kelly has been compared to David Archuleta, a comparison that will probably help him win female fans.

Tyler Grady, 20, of Nazareth, did not receive the same praise as his fellow Pennsylvanian. Grady embraces the 1970’s, as is reflected in his clothing and song choices.

However, after his performance of “American Woman,” the judges were concerned that he was focusing on “style over substance.”

His unique style goes beyond the 1970’s, however, as he appeared on stage wearing a bathrobe and tennis socks during rehearsal.

The performer that DioGuardi will undoubtedly remember best is 27-year-old Casey James.

DioGuardi’s connection to James began during his original audition, where she told him he looked “like a model”, and asked him to unbutton his shirt.

The comments continued to center around his looks after his performance of “Heaven” on Wednesday night.

DioGuardi commented that he is, “eye candy, but you are also ear candy.” DeGeneres used her comedic talent and added, “I could feel Kara undressing you with her eyes.”

Cowell, not known for his humbleness, could not resist saying, “we both were cursed with good looks.”


Ryan Seacrest revealed the fate of each contestant Thursday night, with the familiar heartbeat-music continuously playing in the background.

The audience fell silent as Katie Stevens and Janell Wheeler waited to hear which of them would be going home.

Wheeler, 24, gave Stevens a congratulatory hug when the results were announced. Wheeler gracefully accepted her defeat, and performed “What About Love” one last time.

Ashley Rodriguez, Joe Munoz and Pennsylvanian Tyler Grady were also eliminated at Thursday night’s results show.

Yet, these eliminated contestants can take comfort knowing life goes on after American Idol. Allison Iraheta, a previous American Idol contestant, performed her new single “Scars.”

Kris Allen, the most recent winner, also made an appearance to talk about “Idol Gives Back,” the show’s sponsored charity.

Allen also performed two songs, including “Let It Be,” of Beatles fame.

Who will be eliminated next week? What will happen between Simon and Ellen?

Will Paula make a surprise appearance? The drama is only beginning.

Tracy Combs is a junior student majoring in Communication Studies. She can be reached at

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