The “American Idol” judges were impressed with Manassas native Travis Tucker on Monday, a visible relief on Tucker’s smiling face after last week’s criticism.
Last week Randy Jackson summed up the judges sentiments, calling Tucker’s performance “boring.” Friends from Prince William County thought Tucker, 21, sang well, but he was reserved for what they usually see.
“There’s so much more to Travis than what America saw that night,” said Mike Littlefield who shares an apartment with Tucker in Charlottesville where they attend the University of Virginia. Littlefield and Tucker played soccer together at Osbourn Park High School.
Tucker embraced the professional criticism and advice of his friends (Littlefield called him after last week’s show) and livened up his performance as a chance to win viewers’ votes.
“I played it a little safe last week,” Tucker said before his live performance. “You know, I didn’t want to look like a fool on the first day.”
The audience bopped around while Tucker sang “All Night Long,” by Lionel Ritchie on Monday. Tucker threw out dance moves comparable to pop artists Usher and Justin Timberlake.
Jackson said Tucker’s performance was “a 100 percent improvement over last week.”
“Big props for at least coming back to us,” he said. “That’s the kid I was looking for, man.”
Paula Abdul grinned and said “Ditto. I’m proud of you.”
Probably most meaningful to Tucker were the comments from Simon Cowell. Last week he said Tucker was not “good enough for a hotel lobby.” Monday night, Cowell revoked his statement.
“I have to apologize for what I said last week,” he said. “Because when I watched it back, you were no where near as bad. As Paula and Randy said, this is why we put you through, because you’re not the best singer in this competition, but you make up for it because you are a born performer.”
In his online profile, Tucker said Cowell, known for his harsh criticism, is his favorite judge because “a compliment from him is like 10 from the others.”
But Tucker’s advancement into the top 16 finalists is dependent on viewers calling in or sending text messages in his favor. Results are broadcast live tonight at 9 p.m. on FOX.