By Tia Mansouri

I stopped watching American Idol. Quite frankly, it’s become a mockery of itself (Simon Cowell used to be my curmudgeonly hero; but he has long since been replaced by Gregory House). Luckily, Stony Brook Idol is still fresh and interesting, and a great opportunity to see the sort of talent that can’t necessarily come out to the Open Mic Nights at Tabler or the various productions that occur every semester. Semifinals took place on Wednesday, April 2, and were hosted by Cameron Bowcock. It took gumption to get to the semifinals, so I believe that each competitor deserves a little mention.

Jasmine Aceituno recovered from a mistake in her performance quite endearingly, and the fact that she played piano so well while she sang “Alone” is something for which she definitely deserves recognition. Anne Vermeulen also missed the entrance to her song, “Gimme One Reason,” but she infused her performance with a quirky, edgy flair that more than made up for it (the song has a really long count in the beginning anyway). I never thought I’d hear an a capella version of Linkin Park, much less in the context of an Idol competition, but Shannon Corwin managed to surprise me with her rendition of ”Breaking the Habit.”

Also taking the a capella route were Carine Valere, with a powerful and soulful rendition of “I Need You Now,” and Nisha Thayil, whose version of 

Christina Aguilera’s “Hurt” left the audience absolutely silent with attention. The members of the Beatles were well represented via the charming interpretations of “All My Loving” and “Imagine” sang by Carolyn DeDora and Bernie

 Lubell respectively. Ejiroghene Gbenedia and Sade Johnson both chose the same song, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow”; it would probably have been awkward if one contestant had done a much better job than the other, but both versions were unique and beautiful,especially since both singers performed without musical accompany and had strong resonating voices. Laura LeBlanc’s clear, sweet voice wasn’t drowned out by her guitar, wielded with prowess, as she performed the song “Everyday.”

Some contestants danced while they sang but stood still during the moments in which they weren’t singing, like Anthony Lifreri. I was highly amused by his impromptu dancing. Another point of interest was Jordan Wright’s style. With a super-shiny belt buckle and shades, he brought an enjoyable swagger to the table as he attempted Michael Jackson (and his falsetto).  My favorite song choice was “Killing Me Softly,” performed by Jessica Peters. I wish she’d been able to find the track without words, because she had such a lovely voice that had to compete with the background track.

Emily Heath learned her song, “Have A Little Faith In Me,” in a day; with all the fans she brought, she definitely did not need to worry about a lack of faith. My personal favorite was Veronica Scorcia. Imagine a sweet, demure looking girl getting on stage and then proceeding to absolutely blow you into next Thursday with her voice, as she sang “Listen” by Beyoncé. Needless to say, she was inspiring.

The students selected as finalists were Carolyn, Ejiroghene, Emily, Laura, Bernie, Jessica, Veronica, Nisha, and Anne. While there were a panel of judges including Howie Gunston, Dina Moore, and Joe McGrann, students voted for who made finals. You can watch and vote for them by attending finals, which take place on April 16 on the Staller lawn during campus lifetime. It will certainly be better for your health than wasting away in front of a TV watching Fox.