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''Idol'': Jon Peter Lewis on ladies' night

The season 3 vet on the pressure the semifinalists must be feeling about now — pressure he remembers well

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Jon Peter Lewis, American Idol
Jon Peter Lewis: Nigel Skeet

”Idol”: Jon Peter Lewis on ladies’ night

And so it’s ladies night. Now with the second night of Idol watching, I’m feeling a little less enthusiastic about searching for our next big pop star. Three nights of Idol seems a bit too much to me. But while my favorites and not-so-favorites came and went across the TV, I felt my weariness turn to nostalgia. I remembered what it was like to have 30 million people analyzing everything down to the ring on my finger.

Quickly, though, before I get too far down memory lane, I want to spread some positive propaganda for who I thought was cool. Right off the bat, Carly Smithson was killer. I love Heart; I love her voice. I don’t know if she’ll win, though. Only half of the competition is really about how you sing, and I’m not convinced she’s shown enough personality yet to win people over. We’ll see.

On the flip side, a couple songs later, Brooke White was all about vibe and personality. She’s one of the only people on the show that really knows what she’s all about and so far has stayed true to it. Plus, I like the fact she plays a few different instruments. And that’s about it.

It’s still anyone’s game at this point, though. Back in the Paleozoic Era, when the continents were still one land mass and American Idol season 3 was on the air, we had 32 semifinalists, not 24. LaToya London performed with me during week 3 and obliterated us with ”All by Myself” (which Asia’h, coincidentally covered last night). She skyrocketed with that to an early-favorite position. But she peaked with that song, and Fantasia crept up on her to take it in the end. It’s a similar story that’s played out in one way or another from season to season. You just can’t tell who’s gonna win this early.

In so many ways these, semifinals are most crucial. They literally can make or break you. The sudden barrage of cameras, stage directions, and delusions of fame and fortune can be enough to put you over the edge. Jennifer Hudson is a great example of that. I remember when I heard her sing in the Hollywood round for the first time and thought, ”Man, we’re in trouble!” Then, in her semifinal debut, she cracked and never recovered. She left just after me in the No. 7 position. But she has an Oscar now, so what does she care?

The scrutiny at this point is so intense and so unfamiliar and intensely exciting, that it isn’t any wonder to me to see contestants starting to second-guess and freak out about song choice. I’ll be interested to see who’s gonna leave. If I had to pick a bottom three… Hmmmm, I think Amanda Overmyer, Kristy Lee Cook, and Kady Malloy.

— Jon

Jon Peter Lewis’s second album, Break the Silence, is due June 3. The single of the same name comes out on May 18, and will be available for download at all major online music outlets. For more on Jon, check out www.jonpeterlewis.com.

NEXT WEEK: Season 4 finalist Nadia Turner offers her thoughts on the performance episodes.

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