Friday, December 30, 2011

#63 Constantine Maroulis

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 63 American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis. He landed in sixth place on American Idol season 4. He is the oldest American Idol finalist ever. He last appeared on American Idol season 10, during Pia Toscano's elimination night. He is the lead vocalist of the hard rock band Pray for the Soul of Betty. He was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his role in Rock of Ages. He was born to Greek-American parents James Constantine and Constance P. Maroulis on September 17, 1975, in Brooklyn, New York. He was raised in the Greek Orthodox church, and he can also speak Greek.

#64 Chris Richardson

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is Chris Richardson. He landed in fifth place on American Idol season 6. He plays guitar, percussion, and piano. His favorite male artists are Jason Mraz, JT, James Brown, and Michael Jackson. His favorite female artists are Mariah Carey (mainly early 1990s) and Christina Aguilera.

Christopher Michael "Chris" Richardson was born to Phyllis and Danny Richardson on February 19, 1984, in Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe Hospital in Soignies, Belgium, a Walloon municipality located in the Belgian Province of Hainaut. His father Danny Richardson served in the United States Air Force for 20 years. Richardson relocated to Chesapeake, Virginia, in 1999. He admitted during the March 6, 2007, episode of American Idol that he was once overweight during his childhood and teenage years. He has lost roughly forty pounds and has become more health conscious, and it has been reported that he was always motivating his fellow American Idol contestants to work out and care about their health and appearance.

Richardson graduated from Great Bridge High School in 2002 and studied music composition at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, for a year, and playing football there. He continued to study music compositon at Tidewater Community College, a two-year college in South Hampton Roads with campuses in Cheasapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach and serving approximately 46,000 students and known locally by its abbreviation, TCC. Before his stint on American Idol, he worked as a kitchen supervisor for a Hooters restaurant.

During his elimination night, Richardson stated that his best friend on the show is his season's runner-up Blake Lewis.

Richardson originally auditioned for American Idol season 4 and then season 5 before being cast on season 6. He auditioned for season 6 in New York City, holding number 8963 and singing "A Song for You", which was originally recorded by Leon Russell and made popular by Donny Hathaway. The judges warmed to him, and he got through the audition process. Richardson was grouped with Paul Kim and former American Juniors contestant AJ Tabaldo, who also auditioned for American Idol season 10, in the Hollywood group round. During American Idol, Chris received many comparisons to Justin Timberlake, including from judge Randy Jackson. But, he adds, those who've drawn the connection should listen to his album when it comes out and then decide if it still holds. "To be even mentioned in the same sentence as someone so successful, it's great," Richardson told the Associated Press on Thursday the day after his elimination in a phone interview. "They might be surprised whenever I come out with my album, that it's completely different than his. So that's when other people might one day be, like `Hey, you sort of sound like Chris Richardson.'"

#65 Nadia Turner

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is African-American rocker Nadia Turner. She landed in 8th place on American Idol season 4. She was born on January 11, 1977. She hails from Miami, Florida, and began to sing at the age of 5. She won  her first trophy at age eleven in the Betetees Sorority talent show. She won her first pageant at age fifteen singing in the Miss Martin Luther King, Jr. pageant. She continued to compete in many other talent driven pageants in the U.S. and the Caribbean. She attended art-driven schools in Miami from elementary throughout college at Florida International University, which was founded in 1965 and currently run by Mark B. Rosenburg. In the year 2000, she performed at the 26th G8 summit to President Clinton and seven other heads of state in Okinawa, Japan.

Turner auditioned for American Idol season 4 in San Francisco, California, with the song "Until You Come Back to Me" by Aretha Franklin. She advanced to Hollywood and then to the live shows. On top 24 week, she performed "The Power of Love" by Ashley Cleveland. On top 16 week, she performed "My Love" by Paul McCartney. On top 16 week, she performed "Try A Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding, and made the top 12. On top 12 week, she performed "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" by Dusty Springfield. On top 11 week, she performed "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper. She was in the bottom 3 with Anthony Federov being cleared first and my number 79 American Idol (or 79th favorite) finalist  Mikalah Gordon being eliminated to 11th place. On top 10 week, Turner performed "I'm The Only One" by Melissa Etheridge, and she was in the bottom 3 with Anwar Robinson making it through and my number 76 American Idol finalist Jessica Sierra being eliminated to 10th place. On top 9 week, Turner performed "As Long As He Needs Me" by Oliver!. On top 8 week, she performed "When I Dream" by Crystal Gayle, and was eliminated finishing in 8th place. She was in the bottom 3 with my number 95 finalist Bo Bice and my number 66 Scott Savol.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

#66 Scott Savol

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is Scott Savol from American Idol. He got 5th place on American Idol season 4. He is the most controversial finalist of season 4. He has a rap sheet citing domestic violence.

Scott Thomas Savol was born on April 30, 1976, in Cleveland, Ohio, but was raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He now resides in Nashville, Tennessee, where he records music.  Savol has a son named Brandon. He has been married to Rochelle since June 8, 2006.

During his stint on American Idol, The Smoking Gun reported that Savol had previously got an allegation of misdemeanor assault for for hitting his girlfriend Michele Martin, who is mother of his son, with a telephone on February 14, 2001 so hard that the phone broke. Savol pled the charge down to disorderly conduct for which he received probation, and was ordered to complete a domestic abuse or anger management class; his girlfriend levied a temporary restraining order against him. American Idol producers responded that Savol had already disclosed this incident to them and that "considering Scott's honesty and his remorse, the situation did not warrant his disqualification", as would Corey Clark on American Idol season 2.

The fact that Savol outlasted many singers who were often considered superior to him (like Nikko Smith [my second favorite of season 4], Nadia Turner, Constantine Maroulis, Jessica Sierra, and Anwar Robinson),  led many commentators to speculate that a portion of Savol's "fan base" actually consisted of people who were attempting to destroy the credibility of American Idol by voting for someone they considered the worst finalist. That organization is called Vote for the Worst (VFTW).Other people suggested Savol was supported by Christian voters because Savol frequently thanked God after his performances, or by voters who saw him as an underdog or "regular Joe" due to his lack of stereotypical pop star looks. Often, he would draw comparisons to actors Mark Addy and Kevin James.

#67 Lee DeWyze

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is season 9 winner Lee DeWyze. He is the least successful winner in American Idol history. Before his stint on American Idol, he had a solo career and formed the Lee DeWyze Band. He had also released two independent albums called So I'm Told in 2007 and Slumberland in 2010, both released on WuLi Records. His post-Idol album Live It Up, was released on November 16, 2010, through 19 Entertainment and RCA Records.

Leon James "Lee" DeWyze, Jr. was born on April 2, 1986, in Mount Prospect, Illinois, to Kathleen (née Donahue) and Leon "Lee" DeWyze, Sr., who worked as a postal carrier in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

#68 Kristy Lee Cook

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is mediocre country crooner Kristy Lee Cook. She got 7th place on American Idol season 7. I believe that Alexandréa Lushington should have made the top 12 in her place. She was the first season 7 contestant to release a post-Idol album, called Why Wait, released on September 16, 2008. She was born to Larry and Carlene Cook on January 18, 1984, in Seattle, Washington.

Cook auditioned for American Idol season 7 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. with the song "Amazing Grace." All three judges liked her voice and sent her straight through to Hollywood. While in Hollywood, her first song did not impress the judges. For her second and final chance, she sang "Amazing Grace" again; she was then selected as one of the top 24 contestants in the semi-finals.

#69 Taylor Hicks

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is season 5 winner Taylor Hicks. He is the oldest American Idol winner ever. He was born to Bradley Hicks and Pamela Dickinson on October 7, 1976, in Birmingham, Alabama. His hair started turning gray at the age of 14. He and his family had relocated to suburban Hoover, Alabama, when he was eight years old. His parents divorced, and stepmother Linda shared custody of their son until he reached the age of majority. While in college, Hicks was part of a band called Passing Through, which he later quit to start his own band.

Hicks auditioned for American Idol season 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He advanced to the Hollywood Round with the approval of Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, but not Simon Cowell, who said that Hicks would never make it to the final round. On Hicks' first performance for the voting public, Cowell called back to this quote, admitting he was wrong.

#70 Aaron Kelly

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is Aaron Kelly. He got 5th place on American Idol season 9. Before his stint on American Idol, he was a finalist on America's Most Talented Kid at the age of 11. He was born on April 2, 1993, in Davenport, Florida. Due to the difficult circumstances with his biological parents, he was adopted at the age of 5 by his aunt and uncle, relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, and later to Soneston, Pennsylvania. He has sung professionally since the age of 9, performing at festivals and fairs and opening for acts like Charlie Daniels, Loretta Lynn, Emerson Drive, Bill Anderson, and The Marshall Tucker Band.

Kelly lists his hobbies as soccer and photography and his musical influences as Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, and Celine Dion.

Kelly participated in the American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly known as Disney-MGM studios) at The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. At the end of the day he was the highest vote recipient in the finale show, which entitled him to receive the dream ticket, which got him to the front of the line for the real American Idol auditions in Orlando in June 2009. Kelly is the third contestant from Pennsylvania, and until American Idol season 10 (with Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, and Thia Megia), he was the youngest contestant to make it through to the Top 12 on American Idol, while semifinalist Haeley Vaughn is currently the youngest ever to be selected for the semifinal rounds. Kelly is also one of two contestants from Pennsylvania to be selected for the Top 24 in season 9 of American Idol.

#71 Lindsey Cardinale

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is country singer Lindsey Cardinale. She got 12th place on American Idol season 4.

Lindsey Michelle Cardinale was born to Agnes and Anthony Cardinale on February 5, 1985, in Hammond, Louisiana.

Cardinale auditioned for American Idol season 4 in New Orleans, Louisiana, with the song "Standing Right Next to Me" by Karla Bornoff.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

#72 Kimberly Caldwell

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is another American Idol season 2 finalist Kimberly Caldwell. She is David Cook's ex-fiancée. She landed in seventh place on American Idol season 2.

#73 Carmen Rasmusen

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 73 American Idol finalist Carmen Rasmusen. She claimed sixth place on American Idol season 2. She is also a pianist and guitarist. She was born on March 25, 1985, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, of Norwegian heritage, and she is a Mormon. The second of four children, Rasmusen has been performing in public since the age of five: singing, dancing (including cheerleading, tap, ballet and hip-hop dance), and playing the piano.

#74 Leah LaBelle

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is Leah LaBelle. She took twelfth place and was the first Wild Card finalist to get the first boot in the finals. Two Black female finalists also walked in her shoes in the even numbered seasons of the WGWG era. LaBelle was born on September 8, 1986, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, of Bulgarian heritage. She hails from Seattle, Washington. She auditioned for American Idol season 3 in New York City with the song "I Believe in You and Me" by Whitney Houston, which would later be sung by her fellow season 3 finalist Jennifer Hudson in the Wild Card round. She performed "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" by Diana Ross in the Hollywood Round. She was chosen by Paula Abdul as a finalist after performing "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green. After singing "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by The Supremes, she became the first Wild Card to be in the first week of the final round. She was in the bottom 3 with my number 117 American Idol finalist Amy Adams, who landed in tenth place, and my season 3 favorite Jennifer Hudson, who landed in seventh place.

#75 Kellie Pickler

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown, which ends by the time American Idol season 11's live shows begin, is country star Kellie Pickler. She came to fame when she took sixth place on American Idol season 5. Right after her stint on American Idol, she was signed to 19 Recordings Ltd. and BNA Records, releasing her debut album Small Town Girl, which has sold over 800,000 copies to date, later in 2006. The album was RIAA certified gold and produced three singles on the Billboard Hot Country chart: "Red High Heels" at #15, "I Wonder" at #14, and "Things That Never Cross a Man's Mind" at #16. She released her self-titled sophomore album in 2008 and has produced the singles "Don't You Know You're Beautiful" at #21, "Best Days of Your Life" at #9 (which she co-wrote with country po superstar Taylor Swift), "Didn't You Know How Much I Love You" at #14, and "Makin' Me Fall in Love Again" at #30.  On May 30, 2010, she was ranked the number 7 American Idol alumna.

Kellie Dawn Pickler was born on June 28, 1986, at Stanly Memorial Hospital in Albemarle, North Carolina, a small town near Charlotte, to Cynthia Morton and Clyde "Bo" Raymond Pickler, Jr. Her mother left when Kellie was two years old. She returned and got custody for two years, but the court returned Kellie to her grandparents when she was 12, as her father was in and out of jail during her childhood. Therefore, Kellie was raised by her grandparents.  She cites the major influences in her life as her paternal grandfather, a former electrician Clyde Raymond Pickler, Sr., and her paternal grandmother Faye Pickler. She was raised in her birthtown. She has a half brother named Eric, a half sister, Courtney, and a half brother, Michael, whom she has never met. After her grandmother died of lung cancer in January 2002, she continued to reside with her grandfather and her younger sibling Eric until her stint on American Idol. Pickler graduated in 2004 from North Stanly High School in North London, North Carolina. During her time at the high school, she was a cheerleader and beauty queen. She performed "On the Side of Angels" by LeAnn Rimes during her high school graduation ceremony.

Before her stint on American Idol, Pickler worked as a waitress at a Sonic Drive-In restaurant and in 2005, she appeared on WSOC-TV's Gimme the Mike! Charlotte contest and landed in second place. She participated in the Miss America circuit and won the "Miss Stanly County" pageant at age 17 and subsequently competed for Miss North America in 2004. She dropped out of the pageant and focused on paralegal studies.

At the age of 19, Pickler auditioned for American Idol season 5 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

#76 Jessica Sierra

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is Jessica Sierra. She got tenth place on American Idol season 4. She released her first single Enough in October 2010 from her recently released debut album Rebound.

Before her stint on American Idol, Sierra was a contestant on Star Search, which ran from 1983 to 1995 and in 2003 and 2004. She originally auditioned for American Idol season 2, but she was rejected.

Sierra auditioned for American Idol season 4 in Orlando, Florida, with the song "At Last" by Etta James. On top 24 week, she performed "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" by Phil Collins. On top 20 week, she performed "A Broken Wing" by Martina McBride. On top 16 week, she performed "(Boys Are) Back in Town" by The Busboys. On top 12 week, she performed "Shop Around" by The Miracles. She was in the bottom 3 with Mikalah Gordon and Lindsey Cardinale, who got eliminated that week, but I prefer Cardinale over Sierra and Gordon. On top 11 week, Sierra performed "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. On top 10 week, after performing "On the Side of Angels" she was eliminated on March 30, 2005, surprising some fans since Simon Cowell had previously stated that she was one of the strongest female vocalists in the competition.

#77 Danny Gokey

Next on my American Idol countdown is my number 77 American Idol finalist Danny Gokey. He got third place on American Idol season 8. Allison Iraheta should have made the top 3 instead of him. He wife Sophia Gokey, who was a fan of the show, died before his time on American Idol. After his time on the show, he was signed to 19 Recordings and RCA Records Nashville as the beginning of his career as a country singer, releasing his first single "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me." His debut album, My Best Days, was released in March 2010.

Gokey started singing with his family in church, but stated he would rather record mainstream music than perform solely contemporary Christian music. He was the worship director at his church Faith Builders International Ministries, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of the venues where American Idol season 10 auditions were held. Danny got his first take as a recording artist with his demo-tape being professionally recorded at Beach Club Records run by his friend, Rich Clemons, in Racine, Wisconsin.

He is the penultimate of six children. He has a brother, Charles, and four sisters. He has acknowledged the influence of Jeffrey and Robin Pruitt the pastors of the church he worked at and also Matthew Barnett the founder of the LA Dream Center. He has stated that his faith is the "key to who I am." Gokey then spent two years on the open road as a freight driver.

On July 9, 2008, our weeks before he auditioned for American Idol season 8, Gokey's wife Sophia underwent routine surgery for congenital heart disease. It was her third surgery, but she died from complications. The couple had been together for twelve years, and Gokey credited her for his success. Sophia was a fan of American Idol and encouraged Gokey to be a contestant, and Danny established a foundation in her name Sophia's Heart Foundation with some of her family members who are also into the music industry. The foundation exists to help mend and heal the hearts of children and families who have been touched by poverty, sickness, disease, broken homes and broken dreams.

Gokey rose to national fame with his participation in the eighth season of American Idol. On August 8, 2008, he auditioned in Kansas City, Missouri, along with his friend Jamar Rogers, who is also from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Both made it through to Hollywood, but Rogers was eliminated from the competition prior to the semifinals. Rogers decided not to audition for American Idol season 9. Gokey's American Idol audition occurred only four weeks after his wife's death in July 2008.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#78 Gina Glocksen

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is Gina Glocksen. She got ninth place in a tearful elimination on American Idol season 6. She participated in a spring break tour with Chikezie and two others during the time of American Idol season 8.

Glocksen was born on July 4, 1984. She hails from Tinley Park, Illinois, a southwest suburb in Chicago, Illinois. She attended Virgil I. Grissom Jr Middle School and Victor J. Andrew High School. Glocksen has been singing since the age of seven, and she had classical music training in high school, where she learned to play the piano and flute. She originally auditioned for American Idol season 5, but her journey ended in the third Hollywood Round. Before her stint on American Idol season 6, she worked as a dental assistant in Worth, Illinois, and performed with the cover band called Catfight.

On American Idol season 6, Glocksen got a second chance auditioning in Memphis, Tennessee, with the song "Black Velvet", written by Canadian musicians David Tyson and Christopher Ward, and originally recorded by Canadian recording artist Alannah Myles in 1988, and she once again made it to Hollywood. During the second Hollywood, she performed the song "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes, together with Perla Meneses, Jessica Gordon, and Marisa Rhodes. In the third Hollywood Round, she performed "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" by Bryan Adams.

Glocksen finally made it through to the top 24. On top 24 week, she performed "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen. On top 20 week, she performed by "Alone" by i-TEN. On top 16 week, she performed "Call Me When You're Sober' by Evanescence, then she made it through to the finals. On top 12 week, she performed "Love Child" by Diana Ross. On top 11 week, she performed "Paint It, Black" by The Rolling Stones. On top 10 week, she performed "I'll Stand By You" by The Pretenders. On top 9 week, after performing "Smile" by Charlie Chaplin, her stint on American Idol ended in tears on April 4, 2007, landing in ninth place. She was in the bottom 3 with Phil Stacey and Haley Scarnato, who was eliminated one week after her. Like Chris Sligh and Stephanie Edwards, who were eliminated before her, she was never in the bottom 3 prior to her elimination. 

Glocksen married science teacher/musician Joe Ruzicka on New Year's Eve 2008. Her season's winner Jordin Sparks was one of her bridesmaids. The couple resides in Naperville, Illinois.

Monday, November 28, 2011

#79 Mikalah Gordon

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 79 American Idol finalist Mikalah Gordon. She got eleventh place on American Idol season 4. Her favorite male recording artist is Michael Jackson. Her favorite recording female artist is Alicia Keys.

Mikalah Analise Gordon was born to Rocky Gordon (who is Italian and Jewish) and Victora Cavaricci (who is Italian-American) on January 14, 1988, in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was raised in a Catholic household and attended St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic School from third to eighth grade. During her childhood, Gordon regularly performed on stage with her father, a jazz musician who mentored his daughter, attempting to improve her versatility. Before her stint on American Idol, she was with the Helen Joy Young Entertainers, performed at the White House and worked at an oxygen bar.

Gordon auditioned for American Idol season 4 in her birth town Las Vegas, Nevada, with "Lullaby of Broadway" by Ella Fitzgerald and "Killing Me Softly with His Song", which was originally recorded by Lori Lieberman and later covered by Roberta Flack, then Luther Vandross, and then Lauryn Hill. During the Hollywood Rounds, she performed "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" by Dusty Springfield.

During top 24 week, Gordon performed "Young Hearts Run Free" by Candi Staton. During top 20 week, she performed "God Bless the Child" by Billie Holiday. During top 16 week, she performed "Somewhere" by the cast of West Side Story. During top 12 week, she performed "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield. She was in the bottom 3 with Jessica Sierra and Lindsey Cardinale who got eliminated that week. She was eliminated from American Idol on top 11 week, which was Billboard #1s week. This was also the week when the show mixed up the voting numbers for three of the Top 11 contestants Anwar Robinson, Jessica Sierra, and Gordon herself. Her last performance on American Idol season 4 was a rendition of "Love Will Lead You Back" by Taylor Dayne. That song also got Karen Rodriguez booted on American Idol season 10.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

#80 Carly Smithson

 Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 80 American Idol finalist Carly Smithson. She got sixth place on American Idol season 6. She hails from Dublin, Ireland. She was born Carly Sarah Hennessy. Before her stint on American Idol, she released her debut album called Ultimate High for MCA Records, but she was dropped from the label in 2002. She is a member of the gothic metal band called We Are the Fallen. Her father lives in the United States while her mother lives in Ireland. She resided in San Diego, California, at the time of her stint on American Idol. Her music genre is pop rock. Her musical influences are Heart, Celine, Skynyrd, Ray Charles, Whitney, Rolling Stones, U2, Janis, Johnny Cash, and Annie Lennox.
Smithson was born to Marie Murray and Luke Hennessy on September 12, 1983, in Dublin, Ireland. After residing Dublin for six months, Smithson and her parents relocated to Johannesburg, South Africa. They lived there for three and a half years, and then they returned to Dublin. Smithson has an older half-brother named Nik, and a younger sister named Shannon. She began singing around the age of four and has also had some experience with acting. She was featured in advertisements for Denny's Sausage for four years, starting at the age of five. Two years later, in 1992, she joined the cast of Les Misérables and starred as Little Cosette in Ireland. At the age of 10, she released an independent CD titled Carly's Christmas Album which was released in Great Britain. At the age of 14, she witnessed her parents' divorce. A year later, she and her father Luke Hennessy relocated to the United States in order for her to pursue a career in the music industry. She dropped out of high school and moved out of her father's home.

Before the marriage to her husband Todd Smithson, Smithson (as Carly Hennessy) released an album for MCA Records called Ultimate High in 2001. Despite having MCA Records spent over US$2 million on the production and promotion of Smithson's debut album, it sold only 300 copies in its first three months. Smithson said that the album did not have a chance to attract an audience, due to the record company's merger with a parent company. Though some established artists like Sheryl Crow survived the merger, yet-to-be-released artists, including Smithson, fell victim to the merger. In the album, Smithson covered "Just Missed the Train" which was originally recorded by Danielle Brisebois for her 1994 debut album Arrive All over You and later covered by Kelly Clarkson on her 2003 debut album Thankful. After American Idol season 7, copies of Ultimate High appeared on shelves of Borders Bookstores and Virgin Records stores. The album and the music video for "I'm Gonna Blow Your Mind" are also available as a download on iTunes. Briefly after Smithson's elimination from American Idol, Top 10 of Amazon's Top Selling Digital Albums, as well as being featured on the MP3 homepage.

After her time with MCA Records, Smithson's music career went on hiatus. She met her husband Todd Smithson, a tattoo artist, in San Diego, California. They resided in Marietta, Georgia, for a few years, where Smithson worked at an Irish bar called Fado. Coincidentally, Smithson saw fellow American Idol season 7 finalist Michael Johns performing weekly at Fado under his real name Michael Lee. In 2005, Smithson and her husband relocated to San Diego, where they currently reside. Smithson also works at Nothing Sacred, a tattoo shop in San Diego owned by her husband. Smithson has nine tattoos. During her time on American Idol, reports claimed that her unfinished sleeve tattoo on her right arm seemed to be a drawing of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who was two days Smithson's junior and died on July 23, 2011. However, in her exit interview, Smithson clarified that it is a drawing of a geisha, based on a painting that she owns.

Smithson originally auditioned for American Idol season 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the judges unanimously advanced her to the Hollywood Round. However, she was disqualified because her paperwork for her work visa came too late.

Two years later, Smithson auditioned for American Idol season 7, but this time with the proper paperwork. The judges once again unanimously advanced her to the Hollywood Round, after singing "I'm Every Woman" by Chaka Khan. Simon Cowell remembered her season 5 audition. In the Hollywood Round, she sang "Alone" by Heart for her audition and once again received a unanimous praise from the judges and then she sang "When I Need You", which originally recorded by Leo Sayer and later covered by Luther Vandross for his 1998 album I Know. Smithson was one of the first foreign contestants to make the show's Top 12 with the other one being Michael Johns who hails from Australia.

After it was announced that Smithson claimed a seat on American Idol season 7's top 24, articles appeared in the mainstream press questioning her selection because of her previous record deal. Randy Jackson also worked for MCA during the same time that Smithson was signed. Despite this, she still remained on the show. After her elimination, Smithson briefly acknowledged the situation in interviews. In her exit interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she stated that she felt that she was "kind of singled out" and she added that "The media kind of does what they do and I got a lot of weird and negative press very early on but, you know, I just kind of held my head high and it kind of got forgotten about as the show went on." She adds "You know, a lot of the people had professional careers that were involved and I actually hadn't really had lots of stage experience and a lot of the other people had and I think that's more of the experience that you really need on that show." Smithson's elimination came as a surprise to American Idol viewers as she was considered one of the frontrunners on the show. This prompted an unprecedented reaction, with bloggers questioning American Idol's credibility amidst reports from fans of busy signals throughout the voting period. One writer for Entertainment Weekly called the show "America's Embarrassing Lapses In Judgement", saying "Carly Smithson was sent packing, despite a rendition of "Jesus Christ Superstar" that Jesus himself would have been hard-pressed to top". There were renewed claims of "fixing" and calls for the show to publish precise voting totals, resulting in a press release credited to Fox and show producers: "The network and producers will not disclose voting tallies for the competition, as the release of such information would only serve to create additional rumor and speculation", conflicting with executive producer Ken Warwick's claim that they were open to scrutiny, quoted "No one is saying you can't look at them."

During top 24 week, Smithson performed "The Shadow of Your Smile" by Tony Bennett. During top 20 week, she performed "Crazy on You" by Heart. During top 16 week, she performed "I Drove All Night" by Cyndi Lauper. During top 12 week, she performed "Come Together" by The Beatles, which was later covered by the late Michael Jackson. During top 11 week, she performed "Blackbird" by The Beatles, and she was in the bottom 3, but she was saved from elimination before Kristy Lee Cook, and it was Amanda Overmyer who was eliminated that week. During top 10 week, Smithson performed "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. During top 9 week, she performed "Here You Come Again" by Dolly Parton. During top 8 week, she performed "The Show Must Go On" by Queen. She was in the bottom 3 with Michael Johns and Syesha Mercado. When announcing the results, Ryan Seacrest simultaneously announced that Smithson and Mercado were safe, and that Johns would be eliminated. During top 7 week, she performed "Without You" which was originally recorded by the British rock group Badfinger and later covered by Mariah Carey on her third album Music Box. After her performance of "Superstar" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar on top 6 week, Smithson was eliminated from American Idol on April 23, 2008, landing in sixth place. The day before she was eliminated Cowell stated, "I thought that was the best performance of the night so far.", prompting Smithson to pull out a T-shirt saying "Simon Loves Me (this week)". After it was announced that she was eliminated, Cowell said: "I apologize for giving you a compliment last night—kiss of death, but let me tell you, Carly, you can leave with your head held high."

After her stint on American Idol, Smithson appeared on talk shows, including Live with Regis and Kelly, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Access Hollywood, the Today show, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She participated in the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2008 along with the rest of season 7's top 10. On the tour, she performed "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence, "Crazy on You" by Heart, and "I Drove All Night" by Cyndi Lauper. Smithson appeared on American Idol season 8 as a mentor to contestants taking part in Boot Camp Training during "Hollywood Week".  This footage ended on the cutting room floor. Later, during the February 18, 2009 live semifinals results show, Smithson and fellow American Idol season 7 contestant Michael Johns performed "The Letter", a song they had also performed for the American Idol in season 7. She also appeared in the season 8 Grand Finale, where she served as a correspondent covering the events of the celebration in San Diego, California, the hometown of American Idol iseason 8 runner-up Adam Lambert.

Two of Smithson's own original songs, called "Lie With Me" and "Let Me Fall", have been recorded and are also in a Los Angeles Times Interview video of Carly recording songs for her album. In the interview, Smithson reveals that pop rock is her music genre, but does not want to go too hard rock or too pop.  Smithson was putting the finishing touches on her post-Idol album when it was announced on June 18, 2009, that she would be joining forces with Evanescence co-founder Ben Moody forming a new band called We Are the Fallen, presumably named after Evanescence's debut album Fallen. The solo album Smithson had been recording was reportedly scrapped. On October 28, 2009, it was announced that We Are the Fallen, including Smithson, was signed to Universal Republic Records. The band has finished recording their debut album and it was released on May 11, 2010.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

#81 Jason Castro

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 81 American Idol finalist Jason Castro. He got fourth place on American Idol season 7. He performed at the wedding of Jason Mesnick from the reality television show called The Bachelor. He was 20 years old at the time of American Idol season 7. After his stint on American Idol, he was signed to Atlantic Records and his self-titled debut album was released on April 13, 2010. He also sang in three languages on American Idol: English, French, and Spanish. I think Chikezie Eze should have made the top 9 instead of him.

Jason René Castro was born to René and Betsy Castro on March 25, 1987. He was born in Dallas, Texas, and raised in Rowlett, Texas. His parents were originally from Colombia. He is the first person in his family to be born in the United States, followed by younger siblings Michael and Jackeline (Jackie), both of whom are singer-songwriters as well. His brother Michael auditioned for American Idol seasons 8 and 9, but was cut in the third Hollywood Round in season 8 and in the first Hollywood Round in season 9. Jason Castro's native language is Spanish. Though he normal speaks English, he has considered recording a Spanish album.Their father, René, is an architectural swimming pool designer and singer-songwriter.

Castro attended Rowlett High School where he was a left winger on his school's soccer team and an honor student. He received a 1340 out of 1600 on his SAT. At the time of his stint on American Idol, he was a junior studying Construction Science at Texas A&M University in College Station on a full academic scholorship.

Castro auditioned for American Idol season 7 in Dallas, Texas, with the song "Crazy" by Ray LaMontagne. Due to legal restrictions on his song choices, he received no air time until the live shows. During top 24 week, he performed "Daydream" by The Lovin' Spoonful. During top 20 week, he performed "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb. During top 16 week, he performed "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. His rendition of the song led to a surge of popularity for the Jeff Buckley cover from the iTunes Store, propelling it to the number-one spot on the iTunes singles chart. Buckley's version of the song sold 178,000 digital downloads in the week following Castro's performance, to debut at number one on Billboard's Hot Digital Songs chart. According to the March 22, 2008 issue of Billboard, this was the highest boost in digital sales a song had ever received after being performed by a contestant on American Idol. It was the first time Buckley's version of the song charted on a Billboard chart, as well as the first U.S. number-one song on any chart for Buckley, who died May 29, 1997 at age 30. Jason Castro’s rendition of the song propelled Jeff Buckley’s version to be certified gold and platinum as a single on April 22, 2008. Castro's rendition of the song remained on the number-one spot on the iTunes chart, but it was removed because the American Idol producers did not want any contestant to be favored.

During top 12 week, Castro performed "If I Fell" by The Beatles. During top 11 week, he performed "Michelle" by The Beatles. During top 10 week, he performed "Fragile" by Sting. During top 9 week, he performed "Travelin' Thru" by Dolly Parton. During top 8 week, he played an instrument while performing "Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland after learning to play it in less than a week. Castro has also bumped the sales of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Over the Rainbow" to #6 on the iTunes Top 20. Castro is the only American Idol finalist ever to bump another artist’s single to the iTunes Top 10 or to the Billboard chart. During top 7 week, he performed "I Don't Wanna Cry" by Mariah Carey. During top 6 week, he performed "Memory" by Elaine Paige. During top 5 week, he performed "Forever in Blue Jeans" and "September Morn" both by Neil Diamond. During top 4 week, he performed "I Shot the Sheriff" by Bob Marley and "Mr. Tambourine Man" by Bob Dylan. After those performed, he was eliminated from American Idol on May 7, 2008, ending up in fourth place. He was in the bottom once prior to his elimination, and that was on top 10, where he was in bottom 3 with Syesha Mercado and Chikezie Eze who got eliminated that week.

After his stint on American Idol, Castro appeared on the NBC program Live with Regis and Kelly, the NBC program The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Fuse program The Sauce, the NBC program The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the NBC program Access Hollywood, the NBC program Today, Best Day Ever, the CNN program Larry King Live, the syndicated program The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet as well as dozens of FOX television affiliates and numerous radio stations across the country. Castro has been the subject of articles in newspapers and magazines including People magazine, Star Magazine, US, OK! magazine, USA Today newspaper, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Billboard.

Castro returned to the Idol stage for the season finale, and was the only top 12 finalist who performed a solo. He sang an encore of "Hallelujah."

Upon returning to his hometown of Rockwall, TX, Thursday, May 29, 2008 was declared "Jason Castro Day". Castro was honored with a parade and a ceremony/concert. He was presented with a key to the city by the mayor of Rockwall and a US flag that flew over the nation's capital by Texas congressman Ralph Hall, who assumed office on January 3, 1981. Castro also performed 4 songs for the crowd, including an original song that he had written. The parade and concert was estimated to have attracted close to 15,000 fans and was the largest event in the city's history.

Castro participated in the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2008 where he performed "Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley, and "Daydream" by The Lovin' Spoonful. He recorded "Hallelujah" in Toronto, Canada, for the Mexican-Colombian indie film, Amar a Morir, which premiered in the spring of 2009. On November 3, Castro shot a homemade video of himself performing the song "Sweet Medicine", an original song he had written and put the video up on his YouTube account. However, it is unknown if this song will be released on his upcoming album. He recently took part with the "I Am Second" campaign and openly discussed his Christian faith.

Castro signed a management deal with Hard8Mgt, a firm that manages other musicians such as Jakob Dylan, Dashboard Confessional, Augustana, and others.

Castro released his self-titled debut album on April 12, 2010, on Atlantic Records. He worked with songwriter, producer and former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, who judged American Idol seasons 8 and 9, and producer John Fields. On the album he also worked with DioGuardi, Guy Chambers, Martin Terefe, Dave Lichens (a member of The Heavy Steadies), Jason Reeves, Sacha Skarbek, and Espionage. Fellow Atlantic Records recording artist Serena Ryder appears with Castro on a duet titled "You Can Always Come Home", which Castro debuted at the Texas State Fair in a live performance, his sister Jackie singing in Ryder's place.

Castro performed "Over the Rainbow" and his second single "That's What I'm Here For" at the wedding ceremony of The Bachelor stars Jason Mesnick and Molly Malaney on February 27, 2010 for ABC's broadcast The Bachelor: Jason and Molly’s Wedding. He performed in an episode of The Bold and the Beautiful, which aired in July 2010. The Texas based singer-songwriter confirmed his Christian faith in his new release called "Who I Am". Five of the tracks are favorites from Jason's debut record, while the others are original songs exploring life, love, and God. The first single, “You Are”, is one song that Jason calls his "first love song to God." Castro also appeared in a testimonial video on "I Am Second" , in which he shares his story of his faith in Jesus Christ.

A large audition was held during the fall of 2009 in Hollywood, California for Castro's band. The band played their first live show together on September 25, 2009 when they headlined the opening night of the Texas State Fair. His band members are as follows: Stephen Kanicka, Jordan Critz, Ben Davis, and Jason Dering.

Next up on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 80 American Idol finalist. Like Castro, she is also a season 7 finalist. She hails from Dublin, Ireland. Before her stint on American Idol, she released her debut album under MCA Records, but she was dropped from the label in 2002. Her parents divorced when she was 14. She moved to the United States with her father in order to pursue a music career.  She is a high school dropout.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

#82 Amanda Overmyer

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 82 American Idol finalist Amanda Overmyer. She got eleventh place on American Idol season 7. Her music genre is hard rock. She is vocally compared to Janis Joplin. She is signed to Chile Records. She has been associated with the bands Steeleto and Ruinaces. She was ranked at number 93 by The Los Angeles Times on their American Idol power rankings list on May 31, 2010. Her musical influences are Bob Seger, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Guns 'n' Roses.

Amanda Lindsay Overmyer was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the capital of Arkansas, on October 26, 1984; her father was serving in the United States Air Force and was stationed there. Overmyer and her family eventually relocated back to Indiana, where she was raised in Camden, Indiana, and attended Delphi Community High School, which serves about 520 students and has the colors black and gold and the mascot Oracle, in Delphi, Indiana. She received a nursing degree from Ivy Tech Community College. Before her stint on American Idol, she worked as a health-care specialist dealing predominantly in respiratory issues.

Some of Overmyer's favorite past gigs were the ones sponsored by ABATE of Indiana. Through this association and its biker members, Overmyer enjoyed another passion, which is Harley Davidson motorcycles. Her immediate family all enjoy motorcycles as well. Overmyer is married to Casey Taylor, her longtime boyfriend from Mulberry, Indiana.

Overmyer always dreamt of a music career, as she competed in 4-H sponsored talent contests at an early age and later in WAZY Idol in Lafayette, Indiana. . In her late teens, Overmyer joined a local band. Since then she has been the lead singer of several bands, including Steeleto and Ruinaces.

Although Overmyer already had a successful career as a nurse, she also was curious to see if she could become a professional musician, and audtioning for American Idol gave her the best chance to test the waters without risk.

Overmyer auditioned for American Idol season 7 in Atlanta, Georgia, with the songs "Turtle Blues" by Big Brother and the Holding Company  and "Travelin' Band" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The American Idol judges (Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul) have often compared her sound to Janis Joplin. During the first Hollywood Round, she performed "Light My Fire" by The Doors. During the second Hollywood Round, she performed "Piece of My Heart" by Erma Franklin. She was backed by Vote for the Worst, more so for her personality. During top 24 week, she performed "Baby, Please Don't Go" by Big Joe Williams. During top 20 week, she performed "Carry On Wayward Son" by the American rock band called Kansas. During top 16 week, she performed "I Hate Myself for Loving You" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. During top 12 week, she performed "You Can't Do That" by The Beatles. After performing "Back in the U.S.S.R." by The Beatles during top 11 week, Overmyer was eliminated from American Idol, putting her in eleventh place, thus missing out on the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2008 along with David Hernandez. Carly Smithson mentioned in her exit interviews that Overmyer was her best friend on the show. As of 2011, Overmyer is the only contestant from Indiana to be an American Idol finalist.

After her stint on American Idol, Overmyer appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Live with Regis and Kelly, and The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. She has also been performing professionally ever since her stint on American Idol.

On May 24, 2008 Overmyer headlined the Women of Rock show at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California. She debuted four original songs, "Play On", "Fail to Compromise", "Fight Like A Son", and "Love Me Like You Want."

Overmyer performed at the Harley Davidson Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 27, 28, and 29, 2008. She also performed at a homecoming gig in Lafayette, Indiana, on September 19, where she debuted new music from her album. On December 10, 2008, Overmyer released her debut album "Solidify". "Play On" was the debut single from the album and is dedicated to her husband. The album is available for digital download on her website, as well as iTunes, Amazon, Tradebit, Napster and Rhapsody. The album was produced by Los Angeles-based producer Rocco Guarino.

The album is also now in most stores in the United States; some states may not have the album yet, but are expected to. To date her biggest show was in her hometown of Lafayette, Indiana, during the time of the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2009, where nearly 14,000 fans of hers came out and watched her perform with her band. In 2009, her band went through a lineup change, and Overmyer auditioned a session guitarist from Purdue University. She is currently working on her sophomore album with her band.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

#83 Ramiele Malubay

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is another Filipino, my number 83 American Idol finalist Ramiele Malubay. She is my least favorite finalist of American Idol season 7; she got ninth place. She was the subject of a minor controversy when a number of personal pictures came to light featuring Malubay and several female friends touching each other's breasts. She was ranked at number 95 by The Los Angeles Times on May 31, 2010. Her musical influences are Aretha Franklin, The Jackson 5, Mariah Carey, Lani Misalucha, and Regine Velasquez, citing the last one as her favorite artist.

Ramiele Macrohon Malubay was born to Roger Malubay and Alicia Macrohon on September 6, 1987, in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, of Filipino heritage. She is of Ilocano descent. Upon the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Malubay's parents sent her to Manila, Philippines, the city where the final iteration of the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2011 was held. The family later relocated to the United States and currently reside in Miramar, Florida. She graduated from Charles W. Flanagan High School, which was founded in 1996 and located near Broward County's C.B. Smith Park and the Walter C. Young Middle School and Resource Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida. She studied nursing at Broward College (formerly known as Broward Community College), a state college founded in 1959  as part of a move to broaden Florida's two-year college system and located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and a member of the Florida College System.

Malubay started Polynesian Dancing when she was in the first grade and started singing at the age of twelve. At an early age Malubay started singing for various Filipino-American function across the state of Florida, as well as opening for Filipino acts such as Kuh Ledesma (known by her mother as Maria Socorro Ledesma) and Martin Nievera during American tours.

Malubay successfully auditioned for American Idol season 7 in August 2007 when she performed "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin. During the first Hollywood Round, she performed "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" by Aretha Franklin. During the second Hollywood Round, she performed "I've Got the Music in Me" by The Kiki Dee Band.  She got a very positive reception after her performance of "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" during top 24 week. Judge Randy Jackson called her performance "classy, almost like a pro," while Simon Cowell proclaimed that she "outsang every single person" that night. Cowell also named her "one of the top three singers in the competition" after her performance of "Don't Leave Me This Way" and also noted that she was "probably the most consistently good singer" during the Hollywood rounds. During top 20 week, Malubay performed "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Harold Melvin. During top 16 week, she performed "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" by Phil Collins. During top 12 week, she performed "In My Life" by The Beatles. During top 11 week, she performed "I Should Have Known Better" by The Beatles. During top 10 week, she performed "Alone" by i-TEN. After performing "Do I Ever Cross My Mind" by Dolly Parton during top 9 week, she was eliminated from American Idol. After an emotional farewell, she did an encore of "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" following her elimination. Malubay had never been in the bottom 3 prior to her elimination. During her time on American Idol, she was roommates with Syesha Mercado and Brooke White.  It was frequently shown that a friendship formed between Malubay and American Idol semifinalists Danny Noriega and Kady Malloy, and third place finalist Syesha Mercado. Malubay also mentioned during her pre-performance video interview for Top 11 week that she had formed close bonds with fifth place finalist Brooke White and winner David Cook.

Malubay participated in the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2008, where she performed "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5, "Love Will Lead You Back" by Taylor Dayne, and "If I Never See Your Face Again" by Maroon 5 featuring Rihanna. She performed "Pride (In the Name of Love)" by U2 with Chikezie Eze, Michael Johns, Kristy Lee Cook, Carly Smithson, and Brooke White. She expressed that she is willing to go to the Philippines to pursue her music career, following the footsteps of American Idol season 3 finalist Jasmine Trias. If she fails as a recording artist, Malubay intends to return to school and pursue acting.

Her appearances after her elimination from American Idol include Live with Regis and Kelly, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Today show, The Sauce, The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, Access Hollywood, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She expressed that she is willing to work with The Walt Disney Company during her appearance on The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. On 2008, she was nominated as a Favorite TV Personality by the JC Penney Asian Excellence Awards. She performed in a concert in the Philippines with Ogie Alcasid and Pinoy Idol finalists Gretchen Espina, Jayann Bautista, Ram Chaves, and Robby Navarro in December 2007.

On November 14, 2009, Ramiele performed the "Star Spangled Banner" before the main boxing event between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Ángel Cotto at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. She was billed simply as "Ramiele".

Monday, November 14, 2011

#84 Camile Velasco

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 84 American Idol finalist Camile Velasco. She got ninth place on American Idol season 3. She is a quarter Irish, quarter Spanish, and half Filipino. Her music genres are acoustic pop, R&B, and reggae.

Ciara-Camile Roque Velasco was born on September 1, 1985, in Makati City, Philippines, and raised Haiku, Maui, located in the U.S. state of Hawaii. Before her stint on American Idol, she was a  struggling songwriter and composer who worked at her parents' International House of Pancakes (IHOP) Restaurant in Kahului, Hawaii. She has since released a single with Universal/Motown Records, headlined events in California, Hawaii, and elsewhere in the world. She is currently signed to Up Above Records to complete her debut album.

Velasco auditioned for American Idol season 3 in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, along with Jasmine Trias. The judges unanimously put her through to the Hollywood Round after praising her for her rendition of the chorus and bridge of "Ready or Not" by The Fugees, which contains a sample from a Delfonics song. Simon Cowell commented that she was "actually very good", assuring that Velasco that she did not need to be nervous. Randy Jackson added that he has loved the sound of Velasco's voice and that he "love the kinda dark quality of it." Finally, Paula Abdul stated that Velasco has "a real interesting tone" and that "You’re a beautiful, beautiful girl.” She encouraged Velasco not to be afraid to “let go” and to “know and own the fact that you’re really good.”

In the Hollywood round, Velasco sang several songs solo and performed "You Can't Hurry Love" in a group. She made it through to the top 32, in the second group of semifinalists. After her stirring performance of "One Last Cry" by Brian McKnight, Cowell stated that Velasco was "probably the best out of the group tonight." Before she left the stage, Randy Jackson requested that she infuse more of her hip-hop style into her next performance, and Velasco jovially replied, "I'll do it, baby."

At the results show, Velasco emerged as the top vote-getter in her group, just as Cowell had predicted, and she shed actual tears as she performed a reprise of "One Last Cry." Velasco quickly became the pride of Hawaii, and small-town Maui in particular, causing the islands to vote exponentially more than in previous years. Her return home before the finals was deeply emotional, as she was showered with support and physically covered with colorful leis.

On American Idol, Velasco’s trademark was a red, yellow and green Rastafarian wristband, which she continually wore on her left wrist as a good luck charm and as an homage to the reggae movement (and specifically her musical influences Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill). According to her, the three colors represented peace, happiness, and unity, respectively. Velasco also wore the 3rd Eye Vision logotype of the Hieroglyphics, a San Francisco Bay Area hip-hop crew, on several occasions, reflecting her love of the music and culture. In the media, Velasco became known for wearing self-designed apparel, and for being consistently unafraid to express her unique interests, conscious outlook, and sensitive ideology.

Vocally, Velasco was quickly classified as being hip-hop—a culture and style she certainly identified with (but was not limited to). In the competition, she was even likened to her musical influence Lauryn Hill, one of the most influential women in hip-hop—a comparison that nearly brought Velasco to tears. On top 12 week, she performed "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield. On top 11 week, she performed "Desperado" by Eagles. On top 10 week, she performed "For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder, which would later be performed by Scotty McCreery on top 11 week of season 10. On top 9 week, she performed "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." She sang those songs in her own personal musical style, without consciously applying a particular genre to her performances.

However, on April 7, 2004, Velasco was eliminated from American Idol finishing in ninth place. She was in the bottom three with third-placer Jasmine Trias and runner-up Diana DeGarmo. Velasco and Trias were asked to perform one more time before Ryan Seacrest revealed the night's verdict.
Mostly due to increasingly harsh criticism from the judges, Velasco seemed to anticipate her departure. As a result, she became the first contestant to alter the lyrics of her song impromptu, substituting “the blues” with “I love you,” as she pointed to her fans in the audience and her fellow contestants, and replacing “back to the howling old owl in the woods” with “back to the island of Maui, at home.” Velasco kept her composure as her name was announced, but began to cry during her dedication video. As the show ended, the remaining finalists were quick to encircle her in a tight embrace.

Despite her departure from the show, Velasco’s fanbase continued to support her, hence becoming a cult favorite. She was inundated by gifts and letters, even months after her elimination. Since her stint on American Idol, Velasco has gained a reputation for engaging her fans, and patiently meeting with crowds of people, to the occasional dismay of the employees and management at certain venues. Velasco’s motto, however, is “love life” and she has consistently taken an appreciative, laid-back approach to each public event.

lthough she received criticism from the judges during the show’s finals, Velasco’s track on the American Idol Season 3 CD "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)",  was praised by music reviewers in New York and LA, and identified as the best track on the album by several major publications. It seemed to highlight her potential as a recording artist.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

#85 Casey Abrams

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is Casey Abrams. He landed in sixth place on American Idol season 10, five weeks after being saved by the judges. I think Pia Toscano was more worthy of the judges' save than he was. His musical influences are Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Oscar Peterson, and James Taylor as well as Marshall Hawkins, the head of the jazz department at Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Casey Abrams was born to Pam Pierce and Ira Abrams on February 12, 1991, the day before season 7 semifinalist Alexandréa Lushington was born, in Austin, Texas. He spent his childhood in Chicago, Illinois, first and then in Wilmette, Illinois, where he attended McKenzie Elementary School.

Abrams later relocated to Idyllwild, California, and attended middle school and high school there. He was a student at Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, California, where his father teaches film production. At Idyllwild Arts, he studied classical bass instruction and improvisation, and participted in the jazz ensembles, gaining a foundation in music history, piano, and jazz piano, and learning to compose film scores.

After graduating from Idyllwild Arts Academy in 2009, Abrams attended University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, majoring in music. He worked as a film camp counselor at Idyllwild Arts Summer Camp prior to his appearance on American Idol.

Abrams suffers from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory disease which causes ulceration and inflammation of the colon, and that occasionally requires blood transfusions, which resulted in his having been hospitalized while on American Idol.

Abrams auditioned for American Idol season 10 in Austin, Texas, with the song "I Don't Need No Doctor" by Ray Charles. During Hollywood Round Part 1, he performed "Lullaby of Birdland" by Ella Fitzgerald. During Hollywood Round Part 2, his group performed "Get Ready" by The Temptations. During Hollywood Round Part 3, Abrams performed "Georgia on My Mind" by Hoagy Carmichael. During Las Vegas Round, his group performed "A Hard Day's Night" by The Beatles. Abrams was selected as one of the top 24 semifinalists, but two days before he was due to perform for the semifinal round, he suffered severe stomach pains and was rushed to the hospital.  He was well enough to perform on performance night, when he performed "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and he was one of the five male vote receivers to advance to the top 13. However, after performing "With a Little Help from My Friends" by The Beatles, he missed the top 13 results show due to his illness. During top 12 week, he performed "Smells Like a Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. During top 11a week, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by The Miracles. He was the lowest vote receiver on the top 11a result show, but was saved by the judges; they chose to save him immediately, stopping his supposedly last performance on the show, an encore of "I Don't Need No Doctor", halfway through it. He is the third finalist to be saved by the judges in three seasons. During top 11b week, he performed "Your Song" by Elton John. During top 9 week, he performed "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. During top 8 week, he performed "Nature Boy" by Nat King Cole, featured in the 1948 film The Boy with Green Hair. During top 7 week, he performed "Harder to Breathe" by Maroon 5. During top 6 week, he performed a duet "I Feel the Earth Move" (by Carole King) with Haley Reinhart and a solo "Hi-De-Ho" by The City. Abrams was eliminated from the competition on April 28, 2011, finishing in sixth place. During his exit performance, he performed the same song he performed in the semifinal round.  During the performance he kissed audience members, rolled onto the stage, thanked the judges, and sang the last two words ("you're mine") to fellow contestant to fellow finalist Haley Reinhart.

After his stint on American Idol, Abrams  appeared and performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on April 29, 2011, and Live with Regis and Kelly on May 2, 2011. He also appeared on MTV's The Seven on May 2, 2011. He appeared and performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on May 5, 2011. During the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2011, he performed "Smooth" by Rob Thomas and Santana, "Moanin" with Haley Reinhart, and "Harder to Breathe" by Maroon 5. Earlier, he performed "Animal" by Neon Trees with the other male members of the top 11. In August 2011, Abrams became a spokesman in a national campaign called IBD Icons to raise awareness of inflammatory bowel disease. He is managed by 19 Entertainment. He will be releasing a cover of "Baby It's Cold Outside" with Haley Reinhart.

Next up on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 84 American Idol finalist. She was born in Makati City, Phillippines. Her family relocated to Haiku, Maui, located in Hawaii. Before her stint on American Idol, she was a struggling songwriter/composer who worked at her parents' IHOP Restaurant in Kahului.

#86 Anthony Fedorov

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 86 American Idol finalist Anthony Fedorov. He got fourth place on American Idol season 4. He hails from Trevose, Pennsylvania. He is well known as a balladeer, and the judges view them as his best style.

Anthony Vladimirovich "Anthony" Fedorov (Ukranian: Анатолій Володимирович Федоров) was born on May 4, 1985, in Yalta, Ukraine, a city in Crimea in southern Ukraine, on the north coast of the Black Sea and located on the site of an ancient Greek colony. His family relocated to Trevose, Pennsylvania, in 1994. He faced tracheotomy at toddlerhood due to a birth defect in his windpipe, from which a scar is still visible. Despite skepticism that he would ever have the ability to speak again, he perservered and began to sing at an early age, and he is a tenor and pianist. He is a member of the Neshaminy High School class of 2003. He attended Bucks County Community College, a two-year community college located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia and founded in 1964. He speaks Russian and English. He can sing in English, Russian, Spanish, and Italian.

Fedorov resided in Trevose, Pennsylvania, at the time of his stint on American Idol. He auditioned for American Idol season 4 in Cleveland, Ohio, with the song "Angel" by Jon Secada. He performed "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" by Diana Ross, which would later be performed during that season by Vonzell Solomon, and reprised "Angel" by Jon Secada during the Hollywood Round. On top 24 week, Fedorov performed "Hold On the Nights" by Richard Marx. On top 20 week, he performed "I Want to Know What Love Is" by the British-American rock sextet called Foreigner. On top 16 week, he performed "I've Got You" by Marc Anthony. On top 12 week, he performed "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" by Neil Sedaka. On top 11 week, he performed "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)" by Aretha Franklin and George Michael. On top 10 week, he performed "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" by Elton John. On top 9 week, he performed "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" by The Sound of Music. On top 8 week, he performed "Every Time You Go Away" by Paul Young. On top 7 week, he performed "Don't Take Away the Music" by Tavares. On top 6 week, he performed "I Surrender" by Celine Dion. On top 5 week, he performed "Poison Ivy" by The Coasters and "Incomplete" by Backstreet Boys. On May 11, 2005, Fedorov was eliminated from the show after performing "I'm Already There" by Lonestar and "If You Don't Know Me By Now" by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes.  It is said by many that his rendition of "If You Don't Know Me By Now" was one of his top performances, having been on-key through the entire song and praised by the judges. It was viewed as one of his most accomplished performances, along with his top 8 and top 6 performances.

Two days after Fedorov was eliminated from the show, his brother was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma. Following the show, rumors of a relationship between Fedorov and the season's winner Carrie Underwood dominated discussion of the season. The rumors were sparked by Underwood's reaction to Fedorov's departure, when she sobbed openly and was seen on-screen saying "I love you" to him.  Fedorov and Underwood denied the rumors, saying that they had a "brother–sister" relationship. They remained very close for some time after American Idol, with Fedorov accompanying Underwood to the CMA Awards on November 6, 2006. She also visited him on the set of The Fantasticks during his run on that show.

In June 2006, Fedorov finished in second place as a contestant on a special Reality TV edition of NBC's Fear Factor, which is scheduled to make a comeback in December 2011, alongside American Idol season 2 finalist Carmen Rasmusen. He also appeared in four episodes of MTV's talent show Little Talent Show — Triple Threat, which aired on the September 26, 2006, a few days after his brother Denis died of Ewing's sarcoma.

Fedorov now resides in New York City. In April 2007, he toured American Air Force bases in Europe, judging the Military Idol contest and performing.  He has since become a national spokesperson for the Sarcoma Foundation of America and, in 2008, was appointed to the SFA Board of Directors. He has been performing at the SFA Annual Gala every year since 2007. He performed "The National Anthem" for the New York Knicks, the Oakland Raiders, the Seattle Mariners, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He performed in the US tour of the stage production Simply Ballroom, touring across the United States March through April 2008. Fedorov will reprise the role of the Prince in the second annual production of Cinderella in Nashville on April 15, 2011.

Fedorov's first record, Never Over, is scheduled for release in July 2011. The initial release is going to be an EP with six original songs, written or co-written by Fedorov. His single, which is called "You’re Perfect" is scheduled for release on June 29, 2011. He said "When people hear it they won’t expect to hear what they are going to hear. What people remember me doing on American Idol was ballads, but it has been 6 years and my voice has gotten deeper and has developed a lot of color and a lot of strength. I am really excited to introduce this part of myself. I would say my journey begins on June 29th when we release the single. My record will be released sometime in July, but we will start with the single first. I am really excited about it all."

Next up on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 85 American Idol finalist. He was saved by the judges on American Idol season 10.

Monday, November 7, 2011

#87 Corey Clark

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is Corey Clark. He was known for his highly publicized disqualification, finishing in ninth place on American Idol season 2. He is signed to Universal and Bungalo Records. He hails from Lufkin, Texas. He has a long rap sheet. He was ranked at number 74 on The Los Angeles American Idol top 120 power rankings chart of May 31, 2010.

Corey Delaney Clark was born to Duane and Jan Clark on July 13, 1980, in San Bernandino, California. His parents were singers who met on the road in Nashville, Tennessee in early 1978 to follow ther musical aspirations. His father Duane was an R&B and disco singer who performed in San Bernandino, California, opened for Al Wilson and B.B. King and recorded and performed with the James Last Orchestra (a German band established in 1964 and led by Hans Last) and the Hamburger Symphoniker (a German orchestra founded in 1957 and based in Hamburg, Germany), and is of African American, Cherokee, Apache, and Blackfoot descent. His mother Jan, great granddaughter of of a Budapest concert pianist, is of Hungarian-Ukranian, Jewish, Irish, French, Cherokee, and Algonquian descent. Jan met Duane in Nashville, Tennessee, while working in nightclubs specializing R&B and Barbra Streisand. The multiracial nature of the Clarks’ relationship and of Corey’s heritage was a source of racial conflict for the family during the Clarks' early years in Lufkin, Texas, where Corey recalls a story his parents told him about a December 1979 incident in which the couple were driving to church for a Christmas celebration event with his father Duane costumed as Santa Claus, when they were pulled over by a Caucasian police officer, who smashed one of the car’s tail lights, and told Duane he was being pulled over and arrested for driving with a broken tail light.

Less subtle was the racism at school, where Clark says he and his sister got into fights with schoolmates in the first grade who used racial slurs against them. Adding to his sense of identity confusion was the fact that African Americans also rejected him, using a portmanteau racial slur against him and his sister, on which Clark comments, “It’s real unsettling when you’re young and don’t know which group you belong to.” Today, Clark reflects on his multiethnic heritage with pride, and says he wishes more people were open-minded about interracial dating, saying, “Our family could claim to be the ultimate melting pot,” and that being of so many different ethnicities gave him the ability to "adapt to any situation."

Clark's musical interest began at an early age; his first clear musical influences were his parents, his aunt Audrey, and his father's band recording a demonstration tape in a studio in Denver, Colorado.  Having attended concerts by Boyz II Men, TLC, and Montell Jordan, he began to sing at the age of 11 without formal training, at school functions and concerts.

Clark received his first formal training job at the age of 13, when Debbie Byrd, a family friend and vocal coach  who would later go on to work on American Idol, recruited him and his parents to be among the backup singers for Barry Manilow during a week-long appearance in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although Manilow was not Clark's favorite, he realized his dream during this engagement, saying: "When the curtain went up the first night, I was floored by the response from the sell-out crowd. I’d never been on stage as a professional singer before, and I got to see someone at the peak of his career working the stage and the audience. Every night he made his performance feel fresh, not just going through the motions. Experiencing the energy of a live show wasn’t at all like listening to a tape or a CD, I realized. It was magical. I was hooked!"

At age 14, Clark started and performed as the lead vocalist in a R&B vocal group called Envy. The group also included the now-Grammy-Award-winning R&B Ne-Yo (known by his mother as Shaffer Chimere Smith, Jr.), Solomon Ridge, and Ray Blaylock. Envy performed in several talent contests, and a few years later, won the grand prize at a Las Vegas amateur singing contest. Envy also opened major shows for major artists such as Mýa and Destiny's Child (which included Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams), and performed during Amateur Night at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. The group signed a recording deal in 2000, but nothing came of it, and it disbanded after eight years of performances.

Clark and his family relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, and while working as a stage hand in 2002, he auditioned for American Idol season 2 in Nashville, Tennessee, with "Never Can Say Goodbye" by The Jackson 5, which would be performed by Jorge Núñez on American Idol season 8.  He has been described as "one of the most impressive top ten finalists of the talent search’s second season". Clark names making it to the live rounds during that season to be his proudest moment. During the semifinal rounds, in semifinal group #4, he performed "Foolish Heart" by Steve Perry, and he advanced to the finals alongside Josh Gracin. On top 12 week, he performed "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You) by The Isley Brothers. On top 11 week, he performed "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" by Phil Collins from the film Against All Odds. On top 10 week, he performed "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray, and after that he was disqualfied. Due to his disqualification, he was replaced on the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2003 with Charles Grigsby.

Clark's favorite male musical artist is Michael Jackson. His favorite female musical artist Beyoncé Knowles. His favorite albums are Purple Rain by Prince and II by Boyz II Men. His favorite song to sing is "Doing Just Fine" by Boyz II Men. His other musical influences include Ginuwine, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Brian McKnight.

During the American Idol competition, The Smoking Gun revealed that Clark had been arrested at his residence in Topeka, Kansas, on October 12, 2002, after neighbors called police after hearing a commotion within the residence, including a girl yelling. Police arrived and questioned Clark and his 15-year-old sister Alysha, after which Clark became confrontational with the officers. Clark alleges police misconduct in handling the matter, asserting that he was beaten by the officers, who ultimately wrestled Clark to the pavement and handcuffed him behind his back. After managing to get his handcuffed hands in front him in the squad car, he was shown a taser and warned he would be shot with it if he continued to resist, at which point he relented. He was charged with misdemeanor battery on four police officers and his sister, and endangering the welfare of a child. However, both Clark and his sister Alysha have denied that he ever hit her, and Alysha echoed her brother's account of the way the situation transpired.

On December 4, days after Clark made the top 24 on American Idol, he was charged in Kansas District Court with resisting arrest, battering his sister, and resisting arrest. Clark ultimately pleaded "no contest" to "obstructing legal process" through a plea agreement, and was sentenced to sixth months of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay US$116.00 in legal fees. Clark states in his book, "Initially no charges were filed against me, and I was refunded my US$116.00 bond money after attending a November 11, 2002 court hearing back in Topeka." That December, after Corey had filled out his contracts for American Idol and was publicly named a semi-finalist on the show, the state district attorney elected to proceed with the case and filed charges against him.

According to American Idol's producers, Clark did not disclose his arrest record when joining the competition, although Clark maintains in Chapter 6 of his book entitled "American Paulatics" that he spoke with them and with judge Paula Abdul about his legal troubles. Producers also explained that the background checks conducted on all contestants did not uncover his arrest because of a misspelling of Clark's name in the police report. Clark maintains that this could not be true, as all background checks are conducted via social security numbers (rather than names), which Clark had provided to producers in his contract. The producers disqualified Clark from further participation in the competition nine hours after The Smoking Gun's story was disclosed.

Clark, along with the other second season finalists, recorded RCA Records' The American Idol Season 2: All-time Classic Love Songs soundtrack. Their version of the song "What the World Needs Now is Love" debuted at #6 on the Hot 100 singles sales Billboard Magazine Chart, beating out Jackie DeShannon's 1965 debut of the same song in at #7. With singles charting at #1 ("God Bless the U.S.A.") and #6 ("What the World Needs Now is Love") that year, Clark and the rest of the second season cast became the first act since rapper Nelly to place two titles in the top ten of Billboard Hot 100 Singles sales. In the May 17, 2003, issue of Billboard Magazine, the soundtrack attained Billboards Top Soundtrack #1 spot, Billboards Top internet Album sales at #14, The Billboard 200 hot shot debut at #2, and the single "God Bless the U.S.A." remained at #1 for 3 weeks. The soundtrack sold more than 500,000 copies domestically, giving Clark and his fellow second season castmates Gold record status, as well as making them all #1 artists on the Billboard Music Charts of May, 2003.

Clark's first album, Corey Clark, was published on June 21, 2005. Although the making of the album was highly publicized, the final product received minimal promotion or radio play. Despite high profile superstar featured guest spots from The Black Eyed Peas (which included and Fergie) and Scott Storch, consumers generally overlooked the album. Clark claimed that radio conglomerate Clear Channel refused to play his record due to threats Clear Channel received that all American Idol promotional and advertising dollars would be pulled from any station playing Clark's record.

Clark signed a one album, press and distribution label imprint deal with Universal/Bungalo Records, making him the first American Idol contestant in history to release his own album under his own record company distributed by a major label. This helped him earn a larger share of the album royalties and profits, and made him a partner in the decision-making process into the creative development of the album.

Next up on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 86 American Idol finalist. He was born in Yalta, Ukraine. He had a tracheotomy as a toddler due to a birth defect in his windpipe, from which a scar is still visible. He was voted off American Idol after singing "I'm Already There" by Lonestar and "If You Don't Know Me By Now" Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Two days after that, his brother was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma. He competed in a special Reality TV edition of NBC's Fear Factor along with American Idol season 2 finalist Carmen Rasmusen.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

#88 Lauren Alaina

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is Lauren Alaina. She is the runner-up of American Idol season 10. She is vocally compared to American Idol season 4 winner Carrie Underwood, who is her musical influence. Her favorite quote is the same as Scotty McCreery's. She and McCreery are signed to the same record labels, which are 19 Records, Interscope Records, and Mercury Nashville.

Lauren Alaina Kristine Suddeth was born on my 15th birthday, November 8, 1994, to Kristy and J.J. Suddeth of Rossville, Georgia. Her father works as a process technician in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Alaina is a strong Christian, and often states that she lives for Jesus Christ.

At the time of her stint on American Idol, Lauren was a Sophomore at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, where she is a cheerleader. Alaina was inspired to sing by her cousin, Holly Witherow, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Before her stint on American Idol, Alaina performed at several Chattanooga-area venues and was the first winner of the WinniSTAR youth talent contest at Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park in 2009.  In addition to performing, Alaina wrote several songs including "Leaving" and "Set Me Free".

Alaina auditioned for American Idol season 10 in Nashville, Tennessee, with the songs "Like We Never Loved at All" by Faith Hill and "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith. From then on, she was a judge favorite. After her audition, American Idol judge Steven Tyler said "We found the one." During the first Hollywood Round, Alaina performed "Unchained Melody" by Todd Duncan. During Hollywood Group Round, her group performed "Some Kind of Wonderful" by Soul Brothers Six. During the third Hollywood Round, she performed "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith. During the Las Vegas Round, her group performed "Hello, Goodbye" by The Beatles. During the Sing for Your Life Round, she performed "Unchained Melody" by Todd Duncan.

On top 24 semifinal week, Alaina performed "Turn On the Radio" by Reba McEntire. On top 13 week, she performed "Any Man of Mine" by Shania Twain, which was previously performed by Siobhan Magnus on top 6 week (the week of Magnus' elimination) of American Idol season 9. On top 12 week, she performed "I'm the Only One" by Melissa Etheridge. On top 11A week, she performed "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by The Supremes. On top 11B week, she performed "Candle in the Wind" by Elton John. On top 9 week, she performed "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin. On top 8 week, she performed "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus, featured on the 2009 film Hanna Montana: The Movie. On top 7 week, she performed "Born to Fly" by Sara Evans. On top 6 week, she performed a solo "Where You Lead" by Carole King and a duet "Up on the Roof" by The Drifters with Scotty McCreery. On top 5 week, she performed "Flat on the Floor" by Katrina Elam and an encore of "Unchained Melody" by Todd Duncan. On top 4 week, she performed "Anyway" by Martina McBride and "Trouble" by Elvis Pressley. On top 3 week, May 14, 2011 was proclaimed "Lauren Alaina Day" in her hometown of Rossville, Georgia. Alaina then performed "Wild One" by Zaca Creek as chosen by herself, "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry as chosen by Jimmy Iovine, and "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack, which was previously performed by Scotty McCreery during the third Hollywood round, as chosen by the judges. During finale week, Alaina performed an encore of her first top 5 performance, and then performed "Maybe It Was Memphis" by Pam Tillis, as chosen by Carrie Underwood, and her would-be coronation song "Like My Mother Does", which was originally recorded by American Idol season 7 finalist Kristy Lee Cook. During the finale, she performed "Before He Cheats" with her American Idol Carrie Underwood. On May 25, 2011, Alaina was declared the runner-up to Scotty McCreery.

Alaina released her single "Like My Mother Does" following the finale of American Idol season 10. The song entered the Billboard Hot Country charts at number 49 and the Hot 100 chart at number 20 and sold 121,000 copies in its first week.

Following the finale of American Idol season 10, Alaina has appeared and performed on several talk shows like NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Live With Regis and Kelly, and The Today Show. On June 8, 2011, she and McCreery presented at the CMT Music Awards. In addition, she was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on June 9, and she performed with Martina McBride during her LP Field performance at the CMA Music Festival the day after that.

As the runner-up in the competition, Alaina won a contract that gave her $87,500 in advances which will be doubled when she records an album. Alaina has been signed to Mercury Nashville Records, 19 Recordings and Interscope.  On October 11, 2011, Alaina released her debut album, Wildflower and sold sold 69,000 the first week.

Next up on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 87 American Idol finalist. He is known for his highly publicized disqualification from American Idol season 2 and later allegations of a sexual relationship between him and then American Idol judge Paula Abdul. He was replaced on the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2003 with Charles Grigsby. He was ranked at number 74 in the The Los Angeles Times' top 120 American Idol power rankings list of May 31, 2010.

#89 Scotty McCreery

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 89 finalist, who is none other than the current American Idol, country singer Scotty McCreery. He is the winner of American Idol season 10. He is my least favorite American Idol winner. He was pimped (or shipped) all throughout the voting rounds. He won with significantly inflated voting margins. I am glad Adam Stanton did a pop cover of McCreery's coronoation song "I Love You This Big." McCreery worked as a grocery store clerk at the time of his stint on American Idol. I never voted for him on American Idol. His favorite quote is, at Phillipians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." His musical influences are Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Conway Twitty, Garth Brooks, Josh Turner, George Strait, and Elvis Pressley.

Scott Cooke McCreery was born on October 9, 1993, to Judy (née Cooke) and Michael McCreery in Garner, North Carolina. His mother Judy is a realtor, and his father Michael works as a manufacturing systems analyst. His father was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, to a Puerto Rican mother from San Juan and an White American father.  His mother is the daughter of a retired school teacher from Gates County, North Carolina. McCreery used to impersonate Elvis Pressley during childhood, and began to study guitar at the age of ten. He attended Timber Drive Elementary School in Garner, North Carolina, and later West Lake Middle School where he sang at his graduation. He also attended Garnet Magnet High School where joined vocal ensemble known as Die Meistersingers, that performs across the United States. He started out singing at the tenor register but switched to the bass register when his voice turned lower in his sophomore year.

McCreery won a singing contest called "Clayton Idol" at the Clayton Harvest Festival in Clayton, North Carolina. He was one of the 36 finalists in a "Rip the Hallways" contest featuring teenage vocalists in North Carolina. He has performed at various local charity events.  He also attended Caswell Youth Retreat in the summer of 2009, and participated in the talent show there singing Long Black Train by Josh Turner.

McCreery is very religious. He often states that his religion plays a significant role in his life and that God helps him get through the things he has to face in life. He openly tells others that he loves Jesus Christ with all of his heart and that he needs to stand by Him all the time, because God is the only way he can get through the competition.  He also states that Sunday is his favorite day of the week because, he gets to attend the First Baptist Church in Garner and helps his mother prepare meals for the church.

McCreery auditioned for American Idol season 10 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with the songs "Your Man" by Josh Turner and "Put Some Drive in Your Country" by Travis Tritt. The judges were struck by his deep bass voice unusual for his age.  During the first Hollywood round, McCreery did an encore of "Your Man" by Josh Turner. In the Hollywood group round, he joined the "Guaps" and became embroiled in the drama when fellow group member Clint Jun Gamboa expelled Jacee Badeaux from the group. They performed "Get Ready" by The Temptations. He later expressed regret for not standing up for Jacee. During the third Holywood Round, McCreery performed "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack. In the Las Vegas Round, he performed "Hello, Goodbye" by The Beatles. During the Sing for Your Life Round, he performed "Long Black Train" by Josh Turner. He was one of the five male vote getters in the semi-final round to advance to the Top 13.  In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, he confirmed that has Puerto Rican ancestry, specifically his paternal grandmother.  McCreery was never in the bottom 2 or 3 during the season joining past winners Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, and Lee DeWyze.

During top 24 semifinal week, McCreery performed "Letters from Home" by John Michael Montgomery. During top 13 week, he performed "The River" by Garth Brooks. During top 12 week, he performed "Can I Trust You with My Heart" by Travis Tritt. During top 11A week, he performed "For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder. During top 11B week, he performed "Country Comfort" by Elton John. During top 9 week, he performed "That's All Right" by Arthur Crudup. During top 8 week, he performed "I Cross My Heart" by George Strait, featured on the 1992 Western film Pure Country. During top 7 week, he performed "Swingin'" by John Anderson. During top 6 week, he performed a solo "You've Got a Friend" by Carole King and a duet "Up on the Roof" by The Drifters with Lauren Alaina. During top 5 week, McCreery performed "Gone" by Montgomery Gentry and "Always on My Mind" by Brenda Lee. During top 4 week, he performed "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" by Alan Jackson and "Young Blood" by The Coasters. During McCreery's top 3 homecoming day, Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams gave McCreery the key to the town of Garner and officially made May 14 "Scotty McCreery Day." During that week, McCreery performed "Amazed" by Lonestar as chosen by himself, "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not" by Thompson Square as chosen by Jimmy Iovine, and "She Believes in Me" by Kenny Rogers as chosen by the judges. During finale week, he did an encore of his first top 5 peformance and then performed "Check Yes or No" by George Strait, and then his coronation song "I Love You This Big." He won American Idol season 10 on May 25, 2011, with Lauren Alaina as the runner-up.

McCreery released his coronation single "I Love You Tis Big" shortly after winning American Idol season 10. The song entered the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart at number 32, becoming the highest debut for a debut single since the chart converted to BDS data the week of January 20, 1990. The song sold 171,404 units in its first week, and was RIAA certified gold on August 25, 2011. A music video for the song, shot on Angels Point near Dodger Stadium, was released on August 9 2011. He signed with Mercury Nashville, earning a contract that gave him over $250,000 in advances for recording the first album. On October 19, 2011, McCreery sang the United States National Anthem in Game 1 of the World Series between the Saint Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers at Busch Stadium in Saint Louis, Missouri.

McCreery's first album, titled Clear as Day, was released on October 4, 2011. His coronation single "I Love You This Big" is the second track on the album. Tracks from the album include a song from Keith Urban, and the title track "Clear as Day." A single from this album, "The Trouble With Girls" was premiered on radio on August 30, 2011, and released onto iTunes on September 1, 2011. An exclusive pre-order package on the album was offered in his website on August 8, 2011.

The album sold 197,000 on its debut week, and Scotty McCreery made history as the first country act to debut at No. 1 on Billboard 200 ith their first studio album, as well as the youngest man to open at the top of the chart with his debut release. It reached No. 1 on five separate Billboard charts - Billboard 200, Top Current Albums, Digital Albums, Internet Albums, and Top Country Albums.

Next up on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 88 American Idol finalist. She lost the finale to the subject of this blog entry.