"I love Aretha. I can't explain anything more. She's just the greatest thing. That song just rocks," Joelle said on The Early Show.
And more than rock did 19-year-old Blake McGrath. He jumped, twirled and kicked his way to a perfect "20" from the judges in the new "Young Dancer" category.
"It was a little bit of everything, I guess. In the competition world, they would call that open," the Canadian native said.
It was an open-and-shut case. The Internet voters added another 17 points to his score for a total of 37 points. "I couldn't believe it, actually. I was a little bit stunned myself," McGrath said.
For Joelle, it was a nail-biter. Like her competitor, Sophie Tamiko Oda, she got 19 points from the judges, but the 17 points from the Internet voters broke the tie.
Joelle is no stranger to live performing. "I've sung in front of the Angels, the Lakers, the Chargers, the Padres. I love the national anthem. It is kind of my thing that I love to do is sing the national anthem for our country," she said.
It all started in her hometown of Murietta, Calif., at a minor league baseball team. "I played for the exhibition game against the Padres, and one of the Padre people heard me there, and they wanted me to come sing for their team. And after I sang for the Padres, it just kind of snowballed on and on from there," she said.
For McGrath, it started with dance lessons from his older sister. "She trained me for a few years," he said, noting she was part of the audience.
His parents were in Canada. "They were thrilled. My mom was just like, 'ah, ah, ah!' And I was like 'Okay, Ma, I've got to go.' I couldn't make out the words. But I got to talk to her afterwards again and she calmed down a little bit. But yeah, she's thrilled," he said.
So what is next? Perhaps the singer and dancer can do a duet. Well, Joelle said she does not know if she will do more R&B. "I haven't even thought about that. I've been just so excited over this one. I don't even know what I'm going to do next," she said.
Besides the dance category replacing the model competition, "Star Search" made other changes. Judge Carol Leifer left, and she was replaced by musician Ahmet Zappa, son of Frank Zappa. And the show will return live twice a week. But unlike last time, "Star Search" will be on Wednesdays and Fridays, making room for "Survivor" on Thursday nights.
Wednesday's celebrity judge was Ervin "Magic" Johnson.