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'American Idol' cuts final four semifinalists, reveals Top 12 finalists


By Christopher Rocchio, 03/07/2008 

American Idol's Top 12 seventh-season finalists were revealed during last night's live results show broadcast that eliminated the competition's final four semifinalists.

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Kady Malloy, Luke Menard, Asia'H Epperson and Danny Noriega were ousted from Idol's seventh season after host Ryan Seacrest said  "just over 36 million" home viewer votes -- an "unprecedented amount" -- were cast following Tuesday and Wednesday night's performance episode broadcasts that saw the Top 8 male and female semifinalists perform songs from the 1980s.

During last night's broadcast, Seacrest revealed semifinalists David Cook, David Archuleta, Jason Castro, Brooke White and Syesha Mercado were all safe before telling Malloy, an 18-year-old from Houston, TX, that she was cut.

Malloy sang Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever" during Wednesday night's performance episode.  Idol judge Randy Jackson said Malloy's rendition was "pretty good" since the song is "really hard to sing" while fellow judge Paula Abdul said it was the teenager's "best performance" so far.  Judge Simon Cowell agreed it was better than Malloy's performance the previous week but also said she suffers from a "massive lack of personality" and compared her to a robot when she sings.

He also correctly predicted she "may be in trouble."

"I don't regret a moment," said Malloy following a video segment of her Idol journey.

Seacrest then revealed David Hernandez and Michael Johns had also made the Top 12 before informing Menard, a 29-year-old from Crawfordsville, IN, that he was the next semifinalist eliminated from the competition.

Menard sang Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" during Tuesday night's performance episode.  Jackson said it "started out a little rough" and was "a little bit corny" while Cowell called it "weak" and also predicted Menard's ouster.

"I've got to tell you, there is no chance you're going to make it through -- I don't even think to the final 12," Cowell told Menard on Tuesday night, and home viewers agreed.

"Luke I'm telling you, this is only the first day of the rest of your career and life," Abdul told Menard during last night's broadcast.  "You're a brilliant singer and I wish you nothing but success."

Seacrest moved back to the ladies and revealed Ramiele Malubay, Carly Smithson, Amanda Overmyer and Kristy Lee Cook were the final female members of the Top 12 -- meaning Epperson, a 19-year-old from Joplin, MO, was the second female semifinalist eliminated.

Epperson sang Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" during Wednesday night's performance episode.  Jackson thought the performance "proved" Epperson "deserves to be here" while Abdul agreed she "nailed it."  Cowell wasn't so sure, calling it "second-rate Whitney Houston" but later added it was still "good enough to make the Top 12." He was wrong.

"Thank all you guys for the opportunity.  This was amazing," said Epperson during last night's broadcast.  "This won't be the last time that you see me."

Seacrest then revealed Chikezie Eze claimed the final spot in Idol's seventh-season Top 12, meaning Noriega, an 18-year-old from Azuza, CA, was the last semifinalist ousted from the competition.

Noriega sang Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" during Tuesday night's broadcast.  Jackson said it started off "a little rough" and "a little pitchy" and accused him of being vocally shy while Abdul praised Noriega for his individuality.  Cowell thought the performance was "horrible" and "absolutely useless," adding he "didn't like anything about it."

Noriega picked at his fingernails before Seacrest revealed the home viewer voting results and was emotional once he learned he was eliminated.

"This is my dream since I was 12-years-old," said Noriega during a video package of his Idol experience.  "Be yourself -- don't be something that you're not -- because life's too short.  My dream is to be successful.  I want people to look up to me and relate to me."

Before any of the results were revealed during last night's broadcast, Idol sixth-season runner-up Blake Lewis performed his new single "How Many Words." Also during last night's broadcast, Seacrest revealed that "for the first time ever" home viewers will be able to call-in during next Wednesday night's live results show broadcast with the possibility of talking live on-air. 

"Sounds fun," said Cowell.

American Idol's Top 12 seventh-season finalists will take the stage during next Tuesday night's live two-hour performance episode broadcast at 8PM ET/PT, performing Beatles' tunes from the John Lennon/Paul McCartney songbook.  On Wednesday night at 9PM ET/PT, one finalist will be eliminated from the competition based on home viewer votes, revealing the Top 11.

American Idol's Top 12 seventh-season finalists -- as well as their Fox-supplied bios -- are:

David Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, UT

Archuleta, born in Miami, FL but raised in Murray, UT, began singing at age 7. Currently a junior at Murray High School, he has performed with an a cappella choir group and plays the piano. 

Jason Castro, a 20-year-old from Rockwall, TX

Castro, born in Dallas but raised in Rowlett, TX, grew up playing drums and played in a band called Keeping Lions. Before auditioning for American Idol, Castro was majoring in Construction Science at Texas A&M University. 

David Cook, a 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK

Cook was born in Houston and graduated from Central Missouri State University in 2006. He has been singing since he was in the 2nd grade and also plays the guitar. Cook was a member of two bands, Axium and MWK. 

Kristy Lee Cook, a 24-year-old from Selma, OR

Cook, born in Seattle, WA, has sung for crowds since she was 13 years old. Prior to auditioning for American Idol, Cook raised and trained horses. She plays the piano and was a member of the band Sixshooter. 

Chikezie Eze, a 22-year-old from Inglewood, CA

Eze began singing when he was 13 years old. Before auditioning for American Idol, he was a T.S.A. (Transportation Security Administration) screener and a cashier. He also studied singing at Santa Monica College. 

David Hernandez, a 24-year-old from Glendale, AZ

Hernandez began singing at age 6. He has performed at Urban Network Events, "Arizona Idol" and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade. He has been a member of the bands Tribet and Straight Up. 

Michael Johns, a 29-year-old from Los Angeles, CA

Johns currently lives in Los Angeles, but was born in Perth, Australia. Johns moved to the U.S. in 1998 to attend Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College in Tifton, GA, then moved to Buckhead, GA outside of Atlanta to pursue singing. Johns began singing at the age of 5 and also plays the guitar. He was a member of a band called The Rising.

Ramiele Malubay, a 20-year-old from Miramar, FL

Malubay was born in Saudi Arabia and spent her early years in the Philippines. She has been singing since she was 12 years old. Before American Idol, she was attending school and was a hostess at a local sushi restaurant. She also plays the piano and guitar. 

Syesha Mercado, a 21-year-old from Sarasota, FL who currently resides in Miami, FL

Mercado was a member of The Drum Studio All-Stars band and has a strong background in theatre and dancing. She began singing when she was 3 years old. 

Amanda Overmyer, a 23-year-old from Mulberry, IN

Overmyer is a health-care specialist and is earning a bachelors degree in business management. She was lead singer for the band Steeleto. In her spare time, Overmyer loves riding her motorcycle. 

Carly Smithson, a 24-year-old from San Diego, CA

Smithson, born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, made her singing debut in "Les Miserables" at the Olympic Theatre in Dublin. Smithson moved to Los Angeles at age 13 to pursue her singing career. Before auditioning for American Idol, she was working in a bar and running a tattoo shop with her husband. 

Brooke White, a 24-year-old from Mesa, AZ who currently resides in Van Nuys, CA

Before auditioning for American Idol, White was a nanny. She has performed as a solo artist with a backup band. White began singing at age 15 and also plays the piano and guitar.


(Photo credit Fox)


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