By MARK FRANKLIN
So, we survived the two-hour episode that was the walk to the chair.
And, if you’re reading this, you even survived the shock that Tatiana Del Torro and Nick Mitchell made the final 36.
Now it’s time to find out who you’ll be voting for in the coming weeks.
One has already won a televised singing competition.
Two sang their way into the top 10 in a national competition for teens.
At least a half-dozen have already put music to CD.
And that’s just among the gals.
Since Idol doesn’t always do a great job of filling us in on contestants’ backgrounds, brief profiles of the 18 female contestants follow. We’ll get to the guys at a later date, hopefully tomorrow.
Sorry to break this blog into three pieces, but the html coding starts getting cranky if I insert too many photos and too many videos into the same blog.
And there’s nothing that makes me crankier than html coding with a mind of its own … though Tatiana might give disobedient html coding a run for its money before this Idol season ends.
So, folks, meet Idol’s top gals for 2009. Videos appear at the end of each blog. And, please, if you know of other high-quality pre-Idol videos out there of these folks, let me know.
1. Alexis Grace
We met 21-year-old Alexis from Memphis, Tenn., when she was the subject of feature profile during the Louisville, Ky., auditions and won the judges over by displaying a big voice while singing Aretha Franklin’s “Dr. Feelgood.”
Idol identified her as a stay-at-home mom; she has a 2-year-old daughter named Ryan and is engaged to Ryan’s dad, who recently graduated from military school.
In her Idol video, Alexis reveals that she tried out for Idol twice previously and got turned down. On her MySpace page, she says she has “a soul, bluesy voice, the product of my roots. I am from “Midtown” Memphis, Tn., and have lived here my whole life. I have always been around music …”
The judges sent her off with instructions to dirty herself up a little and, courtesy of Kara, to make love to her fiance. Her reaction: “Is that going to be on TV?”
2. Allison Irehta
Allison is just 16, but she’s no stranger to televised singing competitions. In November 2006, she was named winner of the “Quinceanera” competiton on Telemundo, a Spanish-language U.S. TV station.
Quincenera is like a Sweet 16 coming out party for Latina girls except, as the name indicates, it occurs a year earlier. Allison sang “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the finals (clip below).
In a press release about the event, the vocal and stage performance training team of John Michael Ferrari and Pepper Jay said they “radically improved and cultivated her voice,” noting that her performance moved one judge to tears. For her efforts, Allison walked away with $50,000, a recording contract and won “the hearts of Latin music fans everywhere,” the press release says.
During her Idol video, Allison says she been anxiously waiting to turn 16 so she could try out for the show. Allison says she prefers singing soul; she auditioned in San Francisco.
3. Ann-Marie Boskovich
Ann-Marie is 22 and hails from Nashville, Tenn., so it’s no surprise you can find a couple of videos of her singing country … as long as you check under the name Ann Marie and drop the Boskovich. She’s the gal who auditioned in Jacksonville, Fla., sang wonderfully, but was sent away
to look more like a star. She came back with less clothing, more makeup and slightly tossled hair and got her golden ticket.
She’s hardly a novice at this singing business. On her MySpace page she says she first sang for an audience when she was 5 at her grandmother’s funeral, won her first grand prize singing when her dad snuck her into a Salinas Valley bar on karoke night. At age 13, she sang “Part of Your World” over the closing credits of the direct-to-video movie “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.” She also sang at the 2003 NBA All-Star Game.
She moved to Nashville in 2004, shortly after graduating from high school and has been pursuing a career there as a singer/songwriter, according to her MySpace profile. Idol identified her as a waitress/nanny during her audition.
4. Arianna Afsar
Another 16-year-old, Arianna is the gal who was profiled during the Phoenix, Ariz., auditions where she talked extensively about the Adopt a Grandfriend program she founded at her high school.
That accomplishment was also noted back in 2003, when she placed second in the first-ever Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition at age 13. A resident of San Diego, Arianna was named Miss California’s Outstanding Teen that year and went on to win the preliminary talent portion of the national pageant “with a powerful vocal rendition of ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade,’” according to a pageant press release.
The release says she had already won 50 talent competitions for her singing and received a $500 scholarship for her win in the talent competition. In her Idol video, Arianna says she likes to sing jazz and R&B.
5. Casey Carlson
I sorta feel sorry for Casey Carlson, Idol’s remaining bikini girl. The 20-year-old from Minneapolis proved she could sing during the Kansas City auditions. But she also happened to pose for a bikini calendar for Campus Girls USA and, since she’s far prettier than Idol’s Bikini Girl #1, those photos are now all over the Web and YouTube.
Casey the singer? There’s not a sign of her. Though in her interview video for Campus Girls, she assures viewers that “music is the part in my life that makes me tick. If I didn’t have music in my day, I’d go crazy, I’d go nuts.” And she says her dream job would be to sing and dance on Broadway, even though her major at the University of Minnesota is in advertising and public relations.
In her Idol video, she says she prefers singing pop and alternative music. And, hey, she showed up at the Idol audition clothed. Kudos to her for that.
6. Jackie Tohn
If appearing in a few movies, on a few TV shows (including “The Sopranos” and “The Closers”) and singing and playing guitars in clubs in Los Angeles and New York for 10 years hasn’t made you a household name, why not try American Idol?
That seems to be the rationale of this 28-year-old, who we saw audition in New York. In her Idol video, she says: “I think American Idol is more than, you know, just singers and people who wake up in the morning and think, ‘I’m a really good singer, I can go do this.’ It’s kinda also for those of us who have been stomping the pavement for so long.”
Judging from her Facebook page, Jackie released a 12-track CD named Beguiling in 2008. Judging from her resume on imdb.com, she also released an EP called “The Golden Girl.” She describes her music as that “quirk acoustic solo thing.” She acts pretty quirky, too.
Allison sings “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Allison sings “Volverte Amar” on “Quinceanera”
Ann Marie sings “My Blue Sky”
Arianna sings “I’m Afraid This Must Be Love”
Arianna sings: “I Surrender” & “Nature Boy”
Casey interviews for Campus Girls USA (sorry, I couldn’t find her singing. Anyone out
there know if such video exists?)