Andover Idol

It’s been another week and another cutthroat round of competition for the finalists of Andover Idol. After brutal auditions, five talented singers have survived to this week: Kristina Rex ’11, Camerin Stoldt ’12, Peter Yang ’10, Faiyad Ahmad ’10 and Casey McQuillen ’11. Competing for the chance to record a CD with WPAA and a 50 dollar gift card to My Brother’s Pizza, sponsor of Andover Idol, seven semifinalists sang live on WPAA in two separate rounds judged by Vivian Mallick, Associate Dean of Admissions, and Derek Jacoby, Instructor in Music. Listeners eagerly tuned in to both the live performances, and the recorded songs played throughout the week on WPAA. For the duration of the week, the candidates were on pins and needles as the votes poured in, anxiously awaiting the results because, as Heidi Klum would say, “One day you are in, the next day you are out.” A round later, the competition was narrowed down to the five finalists, who gave stunning performances this Wednesday. Rex has racked up votes each week with her upbeat songs, stunning voice and overall warm demeanor. With her pure tone and incredible range, Rex rivals mainstream Regina Spektor. Throughout her time at Andover, Rex has garnered much respect for as an extremely talented artist through her performances in Azure and in the fall term musical, “The Who’s Tommy.” In the second round, Rex performed a near flawless rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone.” While hitting every note perfectly and maintaining control, Rex’s ardent interpretation wowed the judges and listeners. Rex said, “[All the other finalists] are all fabulous. I think we all just consider this more of a fun experience than a dog-eat-dog competition.” Rex describes herself as having “kind of a Broadway style.” She dreams of collaborating with an artist like Lea Michele from “Glee.” Camerin Stoldt is the rookie of the group. She continued to impress when she sang a crisp rendition of the popular song “Replay” in the second round. Stoldt’s unique voice resembles that of the acclaimed artist Norah Jones. Although Stoldt’s voice is not quite as raspy as Jones’s, she certainly has the same passionate quality in each performance that keeps listeners attentive. Stoldt said that her favorite aspect of Andover Idol is, “just being able to get up there and sing.” With the competition getting more heated, Stoldt revealed that she is “a little bit nervous because it’s getting to be a close race, but all I can really do is sing my best and see what happens.” Stoldt modestly stated, “I know everyone in the competition pretty well. They’re all great and have fantastic voices so, whoever the winner turns out to be deserves it.” While being famous is not necessarily a goal for this budding star, singing in college is a dream for her. Stoldt said that if she wins the gift card, “I would bring Azure because we all love pizza, but Elizabeth Carrolo and I would eat most of it.” Next on the list of the sensational top five is none other than the skilled Faiyad Ahmad. Every time this accomplished singer performs, flocks of girls find themselves falling head over heels for their dashing School President. Ahmad illustrated his time on Andover Idol as a lot of fun. “The people at WPAA are great, and I’ve had a good time playing with the studio artists (Derek Farquhar ’12, Nick Camarda ’12 and Sam August ’10). I just wish more people knew about the competition.” Ahmad delivered a particularly memorable version of “Hey Soul Sister” by Train. Ahmad’s clear voice gives him a sound quite unlike any other at Andover: pop with a jazzy twist. His alluring voice rivals that of the famed Michael Bublé. Able to taste the prospect of winning, Ahmad divulged who he would take to My Brother’s Pizza to spend his gift card. “I’d probably bring some of my buddies down for a ‘bro session’ celebrating the end of Senior Winter and the beginning of Senior Spring!” he said. The next competitor is another all-star singer, Peter Yang ‘10. Yang’s stellar execution of Jay Sean’s “Do You Remember” in the second round solidified his excellent musical repute. Yang’s strong voice likens to that of Asian pop-star Wang Lee Hong Yang has brought his A-game to each round. Yang said, “I’ve loved being in on Andover Idol. It’s a cool new idea that hasn’t happened at Andover at least for the time I’ve been here. I had never seen the radio station and the recording studio and have simply been blown away by it.” Yang still gets anxious for each round, though he has never disappointed in his years of experience. “To be quite frank, I’m very nervous. Recording in a studio is so different from performing live. After a live performance what happened happened, and it’s over. But, after a session of Andover Idol, I have to listen to myself on the radio over and over again, and most of the time I don’t find it too pleasant!” One could only assume that stress would be natural when contending such amazing singers. Yang said, “The competition is absolutely intense. Every [one of the] top five singers is an outstanding singer that I’m just so grateful I can go to school with. Finding this much talent is rare!” Yang disclosed that he would someday love to collaborate with DBSK, a famous Korean acapella boyband “Each [singer in DBSK] is ridiculously vocally talented, and they’re all fantastic. Their acapella stuff just makes me explode on the inside every time I hear them.” Last but not least, the final contestant is Casey McQuillen. For the past three years, McQuillen has taken Andover by storm with her incredible vocals and her original songs, with a new CD out on iTunes. Whether to hear McQuillen’s perfect voice or heartfelt lyrics, students flock to each and every of her performances. McQuillen’s soft yet powerful voice and her skill on the guitar gives her an unparalleled resemblance to Taylor Swift. During the second round, Mcquillen sang a powerful cover of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” With such clearly capable and musically brilliant contestants, who will be this year’s Andover Idol? Come to the grand finale this Saturday at 8:00 pm in the Den to find out.