Stephen M. Silverman
March 03, 2005 08:00 AM

The second round of eliminations took place on FOX’s American Idol Wednesday night, with the 20 strong-willed hopefuls lectured on the need to select numbers they could sing well or else pack it up – and four of them were forced to do just that after nearly 42 million viewers votes were tallied.

“It’s about really delivering that song,” warned judge Randy Jackson, though the advice didn’t seem to stick for contestants Celena Rae, 29, of Ft. Worth; Aloha Mischeaux, 18, of St. Louis; Joseph Murena, 26, of Smithtown, N.Y.; and David Brown, 20, of New Orleans.

During Tuesday night’s edition, judge Simon Cowell advised Rae, who sang Faith Hill’s “When the Lights Go Down” (and received the least number of votes among all the women): “There’s a fine line between being a pop star and singing in a hotel. I think you’re going to wind up in the latter.”

Mischeaux’s elimination, in fact, took the judges by surprise, as they said there were others far more deserving of going home. Possibly the vote went the way it did because Mischeaux had a hard time deciding between four songs, until finally settling upon Alicia Keys’s ballad, “You Don’t Know My Name,” not the easiest song to put across.

Murena sang Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” while Brown crooned Stevie Wonder’s “All in Love Is Fair,” prompting judge Paula Abdul to remark that Brown was missing “that natural spark.”

The 16 remaining contestants and their vocal pipes will be back again next week – the men on Monday, the women on Tuesday.

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