New York City brothers Noel and Jesus Roman auditioned together and went through Hollywood together, so it was only natural they were assigned to the same Semifinals group. Noel, the younger of the two, took the stage first, having chosen This I Promise You. His vocals were thin from the outset; one voice teacher noted that he was relying almost entirely on his 'head voice'. He soon went flat on a couple of low notes and from there everything began to unravel. About 40 seconds in, he had difficulty with a sustained note and shook his head in frustration. Most reviewers agreed the last half of the song was, to quote Simon afterwards, "excruciating".
Judging by the sheepish smile on his face afterwards, Roman was under no illusions about how well he'd sung. But the rules of Idol required him to remain on stage to hear the judges' verdict, and it wasn't pretty. Randy's first words: "Dude, that was terrible." A distressed Paula wondered where the dynamic personality from the auditions had gone, while Simon observed, "If the voting criteria were to vote people through for managing to sing every note out of tune, you would win tonight."
We'll cover both Roman brothers' performances as a unit – Noel's "Promise" plus Jesus's Back At One.
The very poor singing and the harsh judges' comments were enough to put both Romans' in the low 1-star range for certain. But reviewers cited two outside factors that worked to push their numbers even lower. One was the sibling-rivalry angle that had been played up by the producers in the brothers' backstory pieces. (Jesus, playing along, at one point stated on camera that he'd "cut [Noel's] throat" if necessary to advance, an idiom that raises no eyebrows in the Bronx but which clearly didn't play well in Peoria.) None of this trash talk would have mattered a whit had the actually close-knit Romans "walked the walk", but when they didn't, America understandably cut them no slack.
The other factor was the fact that this happened to be the lowest-rated episode in our database by a wide margin, with just one performance (Lisa Leuschner's) of eight coming in above average. The Idolsphere was thus in a very foul mood when it came time to post reviews after the show.
The double-helping of pressure faced by the Romans is not likely to be seen again. We do think, however, that neither brother helped themselves with their song choice. As boy bands go, N*Sync are certainly better than most, but the tepid "Promise" allowed none of the soulful flavor of Noel's voice to shine through. As for Jesus, whose "In The Still Of The Night" was one of the stronger auditions of AI3, he became one of roughly 1300 Idol contestants throughout history unable to do justice to Brian McKnight.