‘American Idol’ likes 5 Philly-area singers

Sarah Restuccio, 18, who impressed the judges switching from a Carrie Underwood song to rap, lives on a 200-acre blueberry farm in Hammonton, N.J.
Sarah Restuccio, 18, who impressed the judges switching from a Carrie Underwood song to rap, lives on a 200-acre blueberry farm in Hammonton, N.J.
Posted: February 08, 2013

At least five young singers from the Philadelphia area are still alive on Fox's American Idol.

The fate of two more might become clear from 8 to 9 tonight, when more showdowns air with guys who passed their original auditions and made it to Hollywood.

Last night, two guys-only rounds were shown, and Zach Birnbaum , a student at Cherry Hill High School West, was among those getting the go-ahead. The bangs of his shaggy hair covered his eyes as he performed "Some Kind of Wonderful" with three other guys.

Unclear were the fates of Nick Rodriguez of Bordentown, Burlington County, and Christian Foti , of Galloway, N.J., north of Atlantic City. They made it to Hollywood, according to AmericanIdol.com, but reports failed to mention them. Were they quietly eliminated? Or quietly advanced? No word from Fox about their status, despite requests.

Asbury Park's Kareem Clark got a no-go from the judges Wednesday night, according to reports.

As tonight's show began, it became clear that viewers would see a new round of solo showdowns, meaning Birbaum, who plays guitar and sings with a band called No Commitment, would be back. But after all sorts of cuts and congratulations were delivered, 28 guys remained -- but many of those who succeeded were never named and only briefly shown on camera.

Birnbaum, Rodriguez and Foti did not seem to be among them.

Host Ryan Seacrest announced, as the show ended, that eight of the 28 would be cut by the judges to create the Final 20 male semifinalists, with that list announced next week.

Next Wednesday, four area women will make their bids for stardom. If our reckoning is right, no other females from Pennsylvania are left, although a few North Jerseyans are.

Here's the who's-who of who's left among the local women:

Taylor Rand, 19, Philadelphia, Pa. Reportedly, a winner of statewide talent competitions. According to her Facebook page, this Girls High grad is also a bartender at Chickie's and Pete's. "I have great energy, I'm super positive," she said during an Idol video interview in which she expressed gratitude for a supportive family.

Courtney Calle, 16, Newtown, Bucks County. So far, the only televised Idol moment for this Council Rock North junior may have been a brief clip of her exiting her audition in red hat and red pants and waving her golden ticket to Hollywood. On Facebook, this budding songwriter wrote that a recent breakup meant "more awesome songs coming your way." See her Idol interview.

Sarah Restuccio, 18, Hammonton, N.J. This Cedar Creek High School student lives on her family's 200-acre blueberry farm, according to Fox29. She wowed the judges by rapping "Super Bass" after doing a Carrie Underwood song during her audition. She also got the on-air mini-bio treatment from Idol, with cameras capturing her removing a saddle from a horse, riding an ATV and shooting an arrow, as "Redneck Woman" played in the background.

Emily Fritz, 27, Lancaster, Pa. Although just a year under Idol's max age, she was "blubbering like a little girl" when she got her golden ticket to Hollywood, she said in her Idol video interview. Also said has some "odd" interests, like quantum physics, besides music and other arts.

Here are more Hollywood qualifiers from Pennsylvania or New Jersey, beginning with five guys who might compete tonight. The three final Jersey women should be seen next week, as the Hollywood rounds continue next Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Chris Watson, 25, Fords, Middlesex County, N.J. Advanced Wednesday night.

Devyn Prynce, 25, Bridgewater, Somerset County, N.J. Might have been one of two guys with same-sounding first name who reportedly advanced.

Keith Claiborne, 26, Farrell, Western Pennsylvania. Status uncertain.

Van Dimopoulos, 20, Scotch Plains, Union County, N.J. Another mystery man.

Will White, 26, Newark, N.J. Advanced Wednesday night.

Elaine Gutierrez, 23, Maplewood, Essex County, N.J.

Taisha Bethea, 21, Hackensack, Bergen County, N.J.

Natalia Richardson, 23, Newark, N.J.

Word from Fox is the Top 40 - 20 male and 20 female semifinalists - will be announced next week.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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