Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Visitors and Maui residents watched last night's airing of "American Idol" at the International House of Pancakes in Kahului to support restaurant waitress Camile Velasco.

Isle ‘Idol’ hopefuls
get lukewarm reviews

Hawaii's "American Idol" hopefuls Camile Velasco and Jasmine Trias must have known it wouldn't be an easy week to impress the judges.

The all-around vocal capabilities of the contestants in the nationally televised singing competition were put to the test last night with a country music theme. A good effort would help cement their reputations as versatile singers and perhaps stave off a dismissal in tonight's results show.

Casually outfitted in jeans, a jacket and hoop earrings, Maui's Camile Velasco, the fifth contestant in last night's sing-off aimed to win over the show's judges with a personalized rendition of "Desperado" by the Eagles.

Repeating last week's evaluation of Velasco, judge Randy Jackson seemed to recognize her potential, though he made it clear he was not bowled over by her performance.

"I know you were trying to make it your own, and put like, a little soul, R&B, hip-hop vibe, but I just didn't get it, man," he said. "It was just all right."

True to form, Paula Abdul was again the most generous of the evaluators. "I love your voice, Camile," she said to cheers from the studio audience. "I see the soulfulness coming back. It's creeping back in your performances and that's what I love about you. You flipped the song and made it your own. You did a great job."

Simon Cowell's comments mirrored those he made a week ago. "Camile, I've said this to you before. I honestly think your nerves are going to be your problem in this competition," he said. "You don't look comfortable and that means the audience at home aren't going to be comfortable."

Scores of Velasco's family, friends and supporters were understandably uncomfortable with Cowell's remarks as they watched the show on a bigscreen TV at the Kahului International House of Pancakes, where Velasco works as a waitress.

Family friend Wilma Morales, who was watching with her husband and son, noted that last night's show was only Velasco's ninth live performance and whatever nervousness she might have had was understandable.

"For somebody to do that in her ninth try -- it is tough," he said.

Later in the show, Trias got her shot, opting to go with Faith Hill's "Breathe."

Trias did not score her usual sweep of the panel. "I don't think tonight was your best performance," announced Jackson, who also added that he was still a "big fan" of Trias.

Abdul agreed with Jackson's assessment, but remained upbeat about Trias' chances to move on. "You have had such strong performances that I don't think this is going to hurt you one ounce," she said.

"My only slight worry about tonight is it's very safe, very mumsy-dadsy and sweet," Cowell noted. "It's just becoming a little bit boring for me."

The two Hawaii contestants are up against nine other hopefuls. A nationwide poll taken last night will eliminate one contestant and the winner will be announced tonight at 7:30 on KHON-2.

Star-Bulletin reporter Gary T. Kubota contributed to this report.


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