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March 12, 2009
'American Idol': The first two to go


FOX

Sometimes nice contestants finish last or, in the case of "American Idol,", are the first to go.

On last night's live results show Jasmine Murray, 17 (pictured), and Jorge Nunez, 21, were the first two of the Top 13 to be eliminated based on viewers' record-setting 33 million votes. Even the new judges' twist couldn't save the two. I like the new twist: The four judges get an opportunity to save a contestant from being eliminated - until the final five finalists compete. It's a one-time-only deal, and everyone has to agree to the save. No singers will get the ax that week, but then two will go the following week.

"The whole point of this competition is America votes for who they want to save," explained Simon Cowell. "If someone happens to be at the bottom, and we think they deserve another chance, we're going to give them another chance."

Well, that didn't happen last night. Neither Jasmine nor Jorge got a break from the judges. But they both were gracious today when they spoke to "Idol" reporters. Here's what they had to say about their experiences moving on.

Jorge Nunez

Q: The world has plenty of good lawyers living good lives, and there are musicians out of work. As far as your education, what are your plans?
A: The show has been so amazing, so I'm going to do both! I'll finish college. But music is my priority, and I'll pursue it. I've gotten great coverage in Puerto Rico.

Q: What did you gain from your experience, and what was the biggest hurdle?
A: Being a singer is about staying true to yourself, no matter what others think. Picking songs was the most challenging aspect for me because it's not the type of music I'm used to listening to, even though Puerto Rico has a musical influence in the U.S. However, we have our own culture. I listen to music in Spanish.

Q: What was your family's reaction, and are you looking forward to going home?
A: I've received so many text messages! None of them said 'I'm sorry.' They said you've got a great voice and you're going to be great. They were happy I was on the show. I've been here (Hollywood) for a month or so, and I can't wait to go home and eat some Puerto Rican food.

Q: Do you guys (the contestants) talk about the judges' twist? Do you think it's a good idea?
A: We did. But we didn't know. It just happened. I kind of imagined it would be something like that because of all the talent on the show. I think it's a really good thing. Contestants like Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson didn't win, and people think they should have gone farther.

Q: Next week's theme is country week. Did you think about what you might have performed?
A: That's definitely intimidating for me! I'm sure I would have been the first Puerto Rican to sing country music. I had a few songs picked: 'I Know You Won't' by Carrie Underwood or 'Anyway' by Martina McBride because they're both ballads.

Jasmine Murray

Q: You're still a teen, and you received so much support from your home state of Mississipi. Will you return soon?
A: It's been unbelievable. 'Idol' really gets you out there. The students at my (high) school really supported me. When I get back, I'll be happy to see them and catch up on what's going on. I've got to finish school - I'm just a junior! And I'm definitely going to college, and I want to have a career in music.

Q: Jorge was asked about the changes in the show. What do you think?
A: We had no idea about the "save." I think it's a good idea. There's been the Top 36, the wild card and the Top 13. The judges are giving more people a chance to reach their dreams. They put us here in the first place, but America gets to decide. I think it's a good idea to increase the numbers. I was happy to be back on the stage with the lights and audience.

Q: The new "Idol" mansion is pretty amazing. What will you miss the most, and how did your mom fit in?
A: I'll probably miss the practice room. It's a big area with wonderful acoustics and a keyboard. I used to go down there and practice all the time. My mom was always encouraging me. It was great to have her there, and the other contestants got along with her.

Q: What's been the most rewarding aspect of the "Idol" experience for you?
A: Just being able to perform. That's what the competition is all about anyway - showing fans what you can do.

Q: What were you considering for next week's country music theme?
A: I was considering LeAnn Rimes or Carrie Underwood, and I was really looking forward to it. I'm excited to see what the others will do.

The 11 finalists remaining will compete for a vaunted place in the Top 10. Remember, unless they change the rules, these will be the finalists selected for the sell-out "American Idol" tour. Show times: 8 p.m Tuesday and 9 p.m. Wednesday on FOX40.

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