Column by Crystal Graham
I just called and voted for local “American Idol” contestant Colton Berry about a half dozen times, and I got through the first time, every time.
From past experience, this could be a bad sign for the young talent from Fishersville.
I voted for Colton not just because he is local, but because he showcased his talent tonight just like he has before audiences in the Shenandoah Valley for years. And with the flak he got from the judges after his performance, he just may need every call he can get.
Simon Cowell has always criticized contestants who come across as theatrical, and from Colton’s audition in Charleston to Hollywood, he faced an uphill battle to win over Simon. So it was no surprise when Simon didn’t applaud Berry’s performance of “Suspicious Minds” on “AI.”
“I think if people spent more time worrying about their voices rather than their hair …” Cowell said at the end of the performance, referring to the change in appearance for the 18-year-old Berry.
“The whole idea of the show is to find a recording artist,” said Cowell. “So, what did I get from that performance? Nothing.
“It’s just a young kid who might have a career in musical theater, but you have no relevance in the music industry. I’m not looking at or listening to a recording artist. You didn’t represent yourself tonight,” Cowell said.
“Idol” judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson were slightly less critical.
“You did a pretty good job on it,” Jackson said. “All in all, pretty good.”
“You looked like you had fun out there,” said Abdul. “I don’t think it was your best performance, but you gave it an eager and fun attempt.”
And of course, Simon had to bring out the dreaded k-word, karaoke, when he referred to Berry’s performance.
The young Berry seemed to take the criticism in stride, but fans from home seemed more critical of the entire “AI” process.
“It has never seemed fair that they show certain people and interview them before they even audition,” said blogger Cindy, who joined the AFP for a live blog during the show. “Everyone knows their whole life story.”
Bridgewater college student and Augusta Free Press intern Erin Gutzwiller agreed that Colton hadn’t been shown enough on television. A regular watcher of the television program, she didn’t know that anyone from Virginia had made the final 24. She also didn’t recognize Colton when I showed her his picture on the “AI” website prior to the show.
She said during the live blog that she wasn’t “blown away” by Colton’s performance, but said that “Colton has a really good voice … I like him even more because he is from Virginia.”
Luckily, for local Colton fans, the decision doesn’t rest with the judges. It’s up to those who watch and call in to vote – those in Virginia and elsewhere.
Forty-five minutes after the show wrapped, the lines are still wide open for Colton.
How many votes am I allowed, I wonder to myself.
A karaoke performance for Colton? No.
Did he blow me away? No. I’ll agree with Erin on that one.
But he does have my vote. And he deserves it.
He’s talented, and he deserves more weeks to prove to the rest of America what he has already proven to Augusta County – he is a star.
We’ll find out on Thursday night if Colton makes the cut – two guys and two girls will be eliminated from the competition.
What do you think? Did Colton have an unfair advantage because he didn’t get more airtime leading up to tonight’s show? Do you think he made a good song choice? Did he make it in your top three or bottom three – or somewhere in between? Did you call in to vote for Colton? Weigh in with your thoughts below.
Crystal Graham is the publisher of The Augusta Free Press. Join us again on Thursday night for the live results show. And if you are reading this before midnight, vote already! Dial 1 866 IDOLS 09 to vote for Colton Berry.