Friday, September 30, 2011

#98 Ryan Starr

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown, from my least favorite to my most favorite, is my number 98 favorite American Idol finalist Ryan Starr. She got seventh place on American Idol season 1. Since her stint on American Idol, she has appeared in number films and on both reality and scripted television shows. She was formerly signed to RCA Records, but she is now signed to Nightbird Records.

Starr was born Tiffany Ryan Montgomery on November 21, 1982. She was born into a middle class family in Sunland, Los Angeles, California. She is the daughter of a Caucasian father and a Peruvian mother. She had a shady childhood. She cut ties with most of her immediate family.

She auditioned for American Idol season 1 as Ryan Montgomery, with the songs "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers and "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys. According to Simon Cowell's memoir I Don't Mean to be Rude, she was "crippling shy" during the audition, but "Paula Abdul saw some potential for stardom in her, and decided to mentor her." As a result, as Cowell claimed, Ryan Montgomery became too confident, and upon advancement to the Hollywood, she changed her name to Ryan Starr. Since then, she dressed in flamboyant homemade attire, and insisted on singing rock-and-roll rather than the pop music the judges felt that she was suited for.

During the semifinal round, instead of the usual pop songs the other contestants of season 1 were performing, Starr opted to perform an unusual song "The Frim Fram Sauce", which was made famous by The Nat King Cole Trio, and she was voted into the top 10 from the first semifinal group, alongside Jim Verraros and my season 1 favorite Tamyra Gray. On top 10 week, Starr was the first to perform on American Idol's first live show. She performed "If You Really Love Me" by Stevie Wonder, and received praise from the judges, including the quote from Cowell, "Pure star performance, loved it." She would later perform it on the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2002. She had a setback on top 8 week performing "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks and was critiqued by the judges. Cowell called the performance "dreadful." She was in the bottom 3 with Christina Christian and A.J. Gil who was eliminated that week. On top 7 week, Starr performed "Last Dance" by Donna Summer and received positive feedback from the judges, but ironically she was eliminated to seventh place. She was in the bottom 3 with Nikki McKibbin and Justin Guarini. During the finale, Starr performed "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" by Nancy Sinatra. Then she went on a 32-city nationwide tour with the rest of the top 10.

Shortly after her stint on American Idol, Starr made a guest appearance on the FOX network scripted television show That '70s Show, and had a guest role in the CBS scripted television show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. She had the lead role in the 2004 direct-to-video film Ring of Darkness, where she portrayed the lead role of Stacy.

Starr blamed her stalled music career on a two-year restrictive record deal with RCA Records. Under this contract, she refused to record a pop album, claiming that the producers wanted to make her musically resemble Avril Lavigne. After a bitter three year battle, she was dropped from RCA Records in 2005.

Upon her exit from RCA Records, Starr released an independent iTunes single "My Religion." The song went all the way to the top of the US Billboard Hot Digital Songs Chart, and was noted in the 2005 edition of Guinness Book of World Records to have sold the most exclusive single downloads in iTunes history. They also went on to detail the fact that My Religion was slated to be released to stores in early 2006, however, iTunes refused to release Ryan Starr's single from contract.

In an interview given to the Today Show during the time of American Idol season 6, Starr revealed that iTunes ad expressed interest in Starr releasing another exclusive single to follow up the immense success of "My Religion." Starr claimed that she was reluctant to accept as she wished to release a full album, but hinted she had accepted the very lucrative offer put forth by iTunes.  Rumors began to circulate that 'Stranded' would be the next exclusive single when images of a single cover were released on her MySpace account.

Rumor had it that Starr rejected a three-year record deal with the British record company Sanctuary Records Group Limited, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group founded in 1979. The deal was rumored to require her to record two pop albums before being allowed to record her rock album. These rumors were later dismissed by her.

Starr revealed to MTV that she had formed a band called Aces. The music pure rock, and both she and the band members are very excited with the material.

Next up on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 97 American Idol finalist. She originally auditioned for American Idol season 9 but did not advance to the Hollywood round, but she returned for American Idol season 10 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and made it to Hollywood. Both of her parents are musicians. She is the only contestant of season 10 to receive standing ovation from the judges three weeks in a row. She performed "Steppin' Out with My Baby" with Tony Bennett, which also received standing ovation.

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