The blue carpet was bustling Thursday night outside the West Hollywood night club Area, where the American Idol Season 8 Top 13 were feted. Fresh from the show which took place a hop, skip and a jump away on the CBS lot, Kara, Paula, bikini girl Katrina Darrell, and the lucky 13 walked down the press line, some more shocked than others at their sudden and continuing fortune.
Adam Lambert, who's made a stir lately with some leaked photos online, was the picture of amiablity, dressed in a black sequined blazer, teal button-down and thin black tie. When asked to describe himself as performer, he said "I'm just Adam", and that he is. Black fingernail polish and all, he's definitely not backing down from his style. He said he's planning to perform more rock, and also pop and electronic music as Season 8 continues.
Another Top 13 contestant with rockin' style is 16-year-old Allison Iraheta, whom describes her performing style as "laid back, chill" and "different". Citing influences such as Pink and Selena, Allison seems very comfortable with her style, which includes her trademark cherry red hair and punky clothes. She confessed to knowing her life will change in "every single way".
Puerto Rico's Jorge Nunez said he is inspired by the memory of his great-grandfather, who passed away a year and two months ago. Asked if his grandfather sang, he said no, but he danced. He plans to keep America voting for him with his "passion" and by "delivering beautiful music". I brought up the text message Marc Anthony sent to Ryan Seacrest praising Jorge, and he got immediately excited. "That was amazing!" he said with a big smile, telling me his first reaction was "What? Shut up!?" He said that Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez are even more popular in Puerto Rico than they are here, so his thrill is most certainly warranted.
Danny Gokey seems not only to be a favorite of America's, but a good friend to many among the cast of contenders. Michael Sarver named his current roommate, Danny, as a close "Idol" pal, and Gokey said that Wednesday night he hung out with Lil Rounds and her husband and had a blast. Wearing his trademark thick-rimmed glasses ( Gucci tonight) he said he's "so excited" to have this "opportunity of a lifetime". He was trying to "enjoy the moment" because he knows how busy and fast everything will soon become. With the help of his glasses collection (20+ pairs and growing), Danny said he sees that this platform is a serious one, where he reaches many, many people. The Milwaukee native says he wants to be "responsible" with it, and make an impact.
Michael Sarver had a top-of-the-head easy answer for "Who is your inspiration during the competition?" Without missing a beat, the married father of two replied "My wife and kids", adding "that's an easy one". Although he's a Texan, Michael's singing style is decidedly not country. He's "R&B-Soul-Pop" and hopes to perform some more R&B throughout Season 8. He says his life has already changed a lot, and he realizes his schedule is about to get really crazy.
Graceful little Alexis Grace was all dolled up in big diamond hoop earrings and a black faux fur shrug. Her inspiration during the competition is her daughter. "Every day when I wake up I think of her" the blonde and pink young mother said. And also "for myself" And her fiance? He's "really good", and at home with the baby. The Memphis hometown girl hinted at showing a little more country flair in her upcoming "Idol" performances.
Honestly, I didn't really get what all the fuss about Scott MacIntyre was about until meeting him. He stood out in the crowd as kind, thoughtful and genuinely grateful to be there. Season 8's Top 13 are a group of very nice people, but Scott I admit is in fact quite special. He says "words can't describe" how great it is to be at this point on "American Idol". He's touched by all the support he's been shown, which he calls a "huge blessing". He was enthusiastic about more dancing to come--every week. With backgrounds in salsa and ballroom dancing he shouldn't have too much trouble, aside from having to be told what camera to act toward. He's looking forward to playing the piano soon on the show, and even stopped by Guitar Center to get in some practice. Musically, he's inspired by many, but the "top four" are " Bruce Hornsby, Billy Joel, Gavin DeGraw and Mark Schultz", the last of whose name he helped me spell. He's looking forward to seeing what the "Idol" house is like, and fortunately will get along with his housemates. "I love everyone this year" he says of his castmates, with a special shout-out to the recently eliminated Alex Wagner-Trugman, "I love that guy", and although Alex isn't a Top 13, Scott says they'll be lifelong friends.
Kris Allen is another sweetheart, "doing great" as part of the in crowd at the Top 13 party. He's planning to "stay the same" to keep America voting for him, and describes his performing style as having a lot of "crowd interaction". He cites The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and Coldplay as favorites. Kris was part of the Season 8 crew that hit L.A.'s The Grove outdoor shopping center the other night for an outing where they were much photographed. He told me they'd gone to see Slumdog Millionaire.
Lil Rounds auditioned to show her three children, the oldest of which is five, "keep your head up". She says it's a "surreal moment" for her, being part of the Top 13 and being celebrated as a potential "American Idol". Lil (yes, her real name) says there's "not a word to describe" what she's feeling through all of this. From the day "American Idol" accepted her on the show she thinks her life has changed. She's planning on giving America different things to look at, by being an original perfomer and perhaps changing up her style to keep the votes coming in. She wants to "continue to show Lil as an artist", and obviously wants the audience to continue wanting more.
Now, for the top three .... which turned into four, apparently to everyone's surprise.
Jasmine Murray is mature beyond her 16 years. Maybe it's her older sisters, or her arts boarding school. She gushes about her "American Idol" schoolteacher Wendy, who she takes lessons with, along with Allison Iraheta, for 3-5 hours a day. She was "super super excited" when she found out she was selected as a wildcard, and had mom there to share the good news. Jasmine's favorite performers are Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake, so if that's any indication she may be breaking out some more contemporary song choices and routines as the season progresses. She hopes to stay on for awhile longer and make a career out of singing. Jasmine doesn't want to be here today, gone tomorrow.
Megan Corkrey, funky dance moves and all, has been one of my favorites since the beginning so I was thrilled she got a wildcard slot. Although Megan has a more vintage style herself, she lists Bjork, Amy Winehouse and Adele as favorites. She doesn't plan to change to get more votes, she's just going to "do what I do" and hope people like it. She describes herself as a "fun, happy" and "smiley" performer. Who wouldn't be when given a second chance at a dream? Megan was feeling "on top of the world" on the magic blue carpet ride into Area.
Matt Giraud was "surprised" and "grateful" when his name was called as a wildcard selection. But, he was standing next to Anoop, so knew maybe something was up. How could Anoop not make it? Matt is thinking about changing up his clothing style, and he'll have AI stylists to help him with that. He'll bring his piano skills to his next performances, and although he loves Coldplay, will give playing their songs a break for awhile.
And finally, number 13, Anoop Desai. He had quite a time on stage Thursday night, one minute his "dreams dashed" when Matt's name, not his own, was called as the 12th Top 12, and the next he's "on top of the world" as Simon explained this year, they're going with 13. Anoop plans on staying true to himself, explaining, "I'm not a politician". He's going to strive to touch people through the show, and he wants America to see what the judges saw in him tonight that made them stretch the rules to keep him around. In what ways does he think his life is going to change? "Just this."
For most contestants, "just this" seemed almost enough.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun