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Manteca Idol: Singing down to the winner

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Manteca Idol: Singing down to the winner

Manteca Idol contestant Amanda Fleig performs during Wednesday's competition at Chez Shari.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED October 30, 2009 3:22 a.m.
Manteca Idol has officially hit its peak period.

With the new format brainstormed by the committee that organizes the Boys and Girls Club of Manteca/Lathrop fundraiser, the remaining five Idol contestants and the three Junior Idol contestants will be returning each week between now and the Nov. 23-24 telethon when a winner is crowned.

That means the best of the competition will be battling it out for at least a month – accumulating an overall score that will determine whether they get the title and the cash prize that accompanies it.

And the evaluations that come from a more famous “Idol” show are now something that performers are going to have to deal with.

Wednesday marked the first time that the contestants were verbally evaluated in a format that will have the weekly guest judge and a rotating permanent judge offering comments about what they liked in a given performance and what they thought could have been better.

Just about everything that was offered up by guest judge Ric Campero – who brilliantly performed a half-time that included a Neapolitan song, a track from West Side Story, and an Italian opera standard – and weekly Judge Anne Talcott were notes of encouragement for those who have the bravery and the endurance to give everything they have week after week.

The song selection has also taken on a whole different meaning.

Rather than having a genre and a contestant’s choice which was standard in the weeks leading up to the Top 8 rounds, performers had to choose a Motown song and a song that the judges specifically picked for each singer to bring them out of their normal comfort zone.

At the end of the night, it would be Katelyn Johnson taking the top score in the Idol category while Annie Banks was the leader of the three junior contestants.

Ironically, in two instances during the Motown section there were repeat songs where the first take was an Idol performer and the second a Junior Idol contestant – which didn’t create the apples-for-apples comparisons that one might draw if they were both in the same age group.

Seeing some of the singers outside of their comfort zone was the best part of the night.

Until Wednesday almost everything that Shellie Hoyt had performed had been typically calm and occasionally Christian songs that she said she also viewed as another form of worship.

So rocking out to Pat Benetar’s fast-paced “Heartbreaker” was a big departure from the norm – something that she handled extremely well and appeared to have a lot of fun with.

Brian Rodrigues has had a variety of musical choices throughout the competition, but I doubt that Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” was on his list of tracks that he had to try. And like Hoyt, she took the new road in stride and gave 110 percent to something that definitely seemed foreign.

But not everyone seemed to be completely at odds with the choice that the judges had made.

The Marie Digby song “Spell” that Katelyn Johnson so beautifully executed appeared to be something that was right up her alley, and could very well have been something that she herself would have picked.

Danielle Osoteo almost seemed perfect for Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” – a song that allowed the high-energy performer to dominate the stage.

Amanda Fleig was also dazzling with “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, and Annie Banks capped off the night with a brilliant take of Digby’s “Miss Invisible” that slowed down the tempo that she usually likes to perform at.

The best part?

They’re all coming back next week, and the week after that, and the week after that.

And (looking at a wall calendar) the week after that.

Charging only $5 for admission to hear such a talented bunch could almost be construed as criminal, and all proceeds raised will benefit the Boys and Girls Club.

There has never been a better time to get wrapped up in these local artists.

You’ll be glad that you did.
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