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Valentine-themed “Idol” fills Purdue stage with love songs

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Dozens of Purdue University students and staff are belting out love songs in a week long competition between would-be pop stars that culminates in a live Valentine’s Day finale at 8 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 14).

More than 30 semifinal performances will be shown repeatedly on video at Ford Dining Court from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 13). A panel of judges impersonating American Idol judges Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson will select and announce the 10 finalists.

The first “Ford Idol” will be selected by audience members who will cast their votes by making penny donations to Tippecanoe County’s Cary Home for Children. Voters are encouraged to vote as often as they like. Results will be announced at Ford Dining Court at 8 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 15).

“When the blizzard hit West Lafayette last Valentine’s Day, Ford Dining Court was ‘the place to be’ for a large collection of snowed-in staff members and student diners confined to campus,” said Barbara Maughmer. “We wanted to make Ford Dining Court the place to be once again in a way that could entertain the entire community and benefit some of the community’s most vulnerable members.”

Contestant song choices span every decade since the 1960s including the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer,” the Starland Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight,” Pat Benatar’s “Shadows of the Night,” Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” and Robi Rosa’s “Crash Push.”

The contest took an international bent when one contestant delivered “Besame Mucho,” a 1940 Mexican love song famously revived by doe-eyed, wild-haired American Idol contestant Sanjaya Malakar. Another contestant sung in Chinese.

“I’m sure we will have our share of William Hungs, but I’m hoping for a couple Katharine McPhees,” said judge Jon “Simon” Hopkins, Ford Dining Court student coordinator. “Admittedly, this is for charity, but I still have to call them as I see them. And, Katharine, darling, if that whole marriage thing doesn’t work out, be sure to call your Uncle Simon.”

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