BEMUS POINT - Not only was Lakeside Drive in Bemus Point packed again for the third time in a row for SE93's Chautauqua Lake Idol, but this week's competition drew the first standing ovation of the season.
The evening's lineup of eight performers included: Ben Swanson, Marguida Hughes, Cassandra Heil, Lisa Matteson, Pawlak, Isabella Zuroski, Krystal Sipp, Chad Denmead, Adam McKillip and Alyson Borowczyk.
"We were pleased with their performances," said Andrew Hill, Chautauqua Lake Idol master of ceremonies. "They certainly got a lot of their nerves under them after their first performances earlier this month. So, you could see that they were a little calmer this time, which is good because their confidence starts to break through a little more; and they start to believe in themselves, which ultimately always helps with their performances."
According to Hill, Pawlak's performance stood out among the rest, and the crowd agreed by giving the first standing ovation of the season for her rendition of Christina Aguilera's "Mercy On Me."
"Heather has just surprised us all," said Hill. "Each week she is getting a little more confident in her stage presence. But, she doesn't even care about winning at this point, she just wants to have a good time, and to get through each performance. That's referencing the fact that she has stage fright, and that this is all new to her.
"She's comfortable and experienced doing karaoke, but as we've promoted over the past nine years now, Chautauqua Lake Idol is not a karaoke competition," Hill continued. "We've got a live band, an outdoor venue and thousands of people during the daylight hours staring back at you. Heather has, so far, taken all of those challenges head on and has done a wonderful job. I think she was a little overwhelmed by it, (the ovation) but hopefully as she continues to advance she starts to realize that she truly has a great gift of singing, and we can't wait to hear her perform during U2 Night."
However, not everyone's performances improved this week, Matteson and Zuroski were eliminated, leaving only eight contestants to continue on to U2 Night. Three more performers will be eliminated during U2 Night, bringing the total down to five for 80's Punk Rock and Queen Night.
Each week, the audience votes via text message to save a singer from elimination. Last week, Heil was saved after he sang "Georgia on my Mind" by Ray Charles. And, two weeks ago, Swanson was saved after his rendition of Michael Buble's "Cry me a River." Both managed to impress the judges this week and did not have to be saved. However, fan favorite McKillip had to be saved Monday night after his cover of Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning."
"Maroon 5 was definitely challenging because it's such a high octave with Adam Levine, and Adam (McKillip) did a good job with that," Hill said.
This week's event featured the 'Top 10' singers for Voice Night, a shout out to NBC's The Voice, in which participants are judged solely on their vocal talent. Hill joked that the audience and judges should 'sit backwards' during the performances.
"We're always looking for something new, creative and ultimately challenging," said Hill. "... By choosing more specific themes, we're challenging them to perform up to the par that we know they can do."
A voice that was heard throughout the lake multiple times during the evening was that of Christina Aguilera, who was not even there. Four contestants performed songs by the artist such as, Matteson's "Fighter," Pawlak's "Mercy On Me," Sipp's "Beautiful" and Borowczyk's "Makes Me Wanna Pray." According to Hill, Aguilera's vocal range was a perfect match for the evening's theme.
"Christina Aguilera's vocals are amazing," said Hill. "High octave, very energetic songs, so she was a very difficult choice for the singers."
Other artist song choices for the evening included Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green and Maroon 5. Denmead's version of "The Baby" by Blake Shelton won him a spot in next week's idol, same as Marguida Hughes' rendition of Cee Lo Green's "Forget You."
In keeping with the theme, the judges were tasked with giving a stronger critique of the contestants' vocal performance, according to Hill.
"All the judges we've ever had do a great job," said Hill. "At this point in the competition they have to start really critiquing, ... picking apart their vocal performance and not getting caught up in the theatrics that might go along with a performance. And, I think they've done a good job of riding that line of what is a good performance and telling them what they need to improve on as they proceed in the competition."
Normally, there are four judges on the panel at Chautauqua Lake Idol. However, this week Andrew Minton was out of town.
"We have not replaced or subbed out judges out of respect for the panel," said Hill. "These judges are with these singers from the auditions all the way through the very end. I think Tim (Edborg), Patricia (Newman) and Michelle (Paterniti) did a great job without Drew, but we certainly can't wait to have him back next week. It will be interesting to see his perspective of the singers because he will be seeing them one less time than the current judges. So, he might have a different idea of them come next week."
The show will continue next Monday with U2 Night on The Italian Fisherman's floating stage in Bemus Point. For more information visit chautauqualakeidol.com.