Freshman artists make their mark at ‘Idol’

Fresh out of PlayFair, more than 20 freshman performers earned themselves a second round of standing ovations when they competed in the third annual “TCNJ Idol” competition, sponsored by the Asian American Association (AAA).

Singers, guitarists, pianists, drummers and even a belly dancer took the stage Friday night in the Travers/Wolfe main lounge, earning raucous applause from their freshman floormates while trying to impress the AAA judges.

John Cross, freshman business major, walked away with the crown on Friday after earning a perfect score of 30 for his soulful rendition of Christian singer/songwriter Mark Schultz’s “Walking Her Home.”

Cross pounded on the house keyboard while belting out the powerful love story about a couple’s life journey together. The young vocalist displayed an impressive range, chilling the audience as he exploded into the tune’s crescendo.

“I just like the story it tells,” Cross said when asked why he picked the song.

Cross has been playing keyboard for about two years and lists his influences as Stevie Wonder and Kirk Franklin.

Jennifer Louie picked up a 29 for her classical piano stylings. The freshman psychology major performed with poise as she hammered the ivories on a night where keyboards ruled the stage.

Alexander Cap finished third, giving the crowd a laugh as he played the theme music from “Super Mario Brothers” on keyboard, complete with sound effects from the popular 8-bit Nintendo series.

“I just want to thank AAA for putting this whole thing together, and speaking of Asians, this piece was written by a Japanese guy,” Cap, freshman music performance major, said before launching into the famous tune.

“I knew everyone would be doing pop music, so I just wanted to do something different,” Cap said after he was announced the third place finisher.

While nearly every performance was either an instrumental or vocal piece, Simi Sahu, freshman business major, courageously took the stage and performed an Indian belly dancing routine to the delight of the crowd.

“I do Indian dance, so I’m used to doing a cultural thing in a non-cultural setting,” Sahu said.

The freshman weren’t the only ones having fun that night. AAA VP of Internal Affairs Genghis Tan and WTSR Programming Director Jeff Rupert ended the show with their version of John Mayer’s “Neon.” Rupert is no stranger to the Idol competition, he won the event two years ago for his rendition of the Barenaked LAdies hit “Brian Wilson.”

John Wintermute invited the crowd to get involved, leading a sing-along as he performed the Goo Goo Dolls’ 1998 pop-rock favorite “Slide.” Nearly every person in attendance joined in on the fun as Wintermute did his best John Rzeznik impersonation.

After the performance was done, the freshman channeled the spirit of PlayFair, demanding a standing ovation. Moments later, he found himself sitting on the shoulders of Genghis Tan, vice president of internal affairs for AAA, and Rupert, soaking in round after round of applause.