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“American Idol,” FOX’s hit show, won over the hearts of millions of Americans back in 2001 with its first season, becoming a pop culture phenomenon seven years later. Inspired by the show, the College at Florham hosted “FDU Idol,” by way of the Office of Campus Life. While this on-campus event didn’t necessarily win over millions, it was certainly a successful endeavor.

If you didn’t already know, “American Idol” is a competitive reality TV show where average Americans, usually young aspiring musicians, showcase their musical talent with the goal of becoming the next American Idol and winning a major-label record deal. With “FDU Idol,” the campus’ most talented singers and songwriters duke it out in the Bottle Hill Room & Pub to become the next FDU Idol, mostly for bragging rights but also for a live interview and performance on FDU Hell Radio, as well as a spot on the judges panel the following year.

Going on its third year, “FDU Idol” was hosted by Resident Assistant Freddie Bourne, an aspiring musician himself. This was Bourne’s second time running the event.

“The purpose of ‘FDU Idol’ … is basically to find the people with the most undiscovered talent,” he said. “It’s kind of a win-win event for everyone … [the] audience gets a good show, the aspiring singers get a chance to perform in front of their colleagues that they’re going to be with for the next four years. The people looking for talent, they find common interest … and they find friends.”

Last year, the event was streamed live on FDU Hell Radio, but this year, due to technical complications, “Idol” could not be streamed. However, there were other, more exciting changes.

Rather than a traditional ticket voting system, Bourne was able to facilitate a mobile voting system, so that the audience could vote via text message. Each of the eight contestants was assigned a corresponding number, and audience members could simply text to vote for their favorite contestant; audience members could vote as many times as they wanted, and one of televisions in the Bottle Hill Room displayed the voting outcome as the votes came in.

Aside from technical difficulties at the onset, Bourne had to make a few other last-minute changes to keep the event together. One of the judges was unable to make it at the last minute, so FDU Graduate Assistant Kevin Herbert was asked to fill the role. Along with Herbert, the judges consisted of seniors Tyler Masterson and Isaac Leggett of the Musician’s Guild.

Many of the eight contestants sang their own renditions of popular songs, like sophomore Taylor McQueen (who sang “Redneck Woman” by Gretchen Wilson) and sophomore Zachary Johnson (who performed the piano-heavy “Apologize” by OneRepublic). However, freshman Chris Lorenz chose to perform an original work, a song called “Please.”

Toward the end of the event, things got a bit suspenseful for the audience, as contestants McQueen, Lauren Angelini and Mike Harris all received the same number of votes, causing the voting system to freeze. The three contestants dueled for the win in an impromptu sing-off to break the tie. McQueen sang “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis, while Angelini sang “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele and Harris performed “Lean On Me.”

The final decision was to the judges, who ultimately voted in favor of Angelini, a freshman and this year’s FDU Idol. McQueen came in second, and Harris was third.

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