‘American Idol’ 2011: Would a Lauren Alaina win be a Carrie Underwood 2.0? — She says that Carrie Underwood is her own “idol,” and she sang one of her songs during the last night of performances Tuesday. Ms. Underwood, as Lauren Alaina’s idol, chose a song for her to sing during that same show. What does Lauren Alaina have in common with Carrie Underwood? If she wins in the finale tonight, could she be a 2.0 version of the successful Season Four (2005) American Idol?
If one knows that Carrie Underwood is Lauren Alaina’s own “idol,” it makes some of her choices this season on American Idol clearer. She has borrowed some of her style in fashion, for instance, often dressing in sparkling long gowns of pastel colors. She also blends the femininity of short flouncy dresses with the country style of cowboy boots. She wears her hair blonde, but unlike Ms. Underwood, she often adds an edgier look with streaks of dark highlights.
The 16-year-old sang Ms. Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor” twice during the season — once earlier, then again on the last night of performances. She tends to prefer country songs that also have a pop appeal. In that way, she could have a career like Ms. Underwood’s in that some of her songs may play on the radio outside of country stations. While she may not like a label like “Carrie Underwood 2.0,” and she would certainly have to carve her own niche in the industry, it could be the case that her career may mirror Ms. Underwood’s in many ways. Can she be as successful? Only time will tell. If she wins, she would be the youngest winner of American Idol, so she may have time on her side.
How about their voices, though?
Judge Randy Jackson once said that Lauren Alaina reminds him of a cross between Carrie Underwood and the first American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson. When Lauren Alaina sang for new judge Steven Tyler at her first audition, she sang with him one of Aerosmith’s songs, showing her range can reach far beyond country music. Carrie Underwood actually performed her own duet with Steven Tyler last month when they sang “Walk This Way” as part of the Academy of Country Music Awards. While Carrie Underwood’s voice can get edgy and certainly has pop appeal, its chief character is lighter in tone, more ethereal than Lauren Alaina’s voice with its deeper, bluesy character.
Many observers were surprised after her first audition singing with Steven Tyler to see Lauren Alaina embrace country music as her genre of choice on the show. While Scotty McCreery’s voice appears made for the genre, Lauren Alaina can sing, as many of the Idol judges have said about other singers in previous seasons, the phone book. Her range is wide.
Will she win? The judges gave her their endorsements last night, and with her pop possibilities she likely has a broader range of marketing potential (just as judge Simon Cowell said of Carrie Underwood six years ago). She certainly fits the profile of a typical American Idol winner more than Scotty McCreery’s solid and traditional country style. Still, this has been a season of genres of all types, so a McCreery win (which Twitter predicts will happen) would not be so surprising in an unusual season like this one. It could also be good for the show to prove to those who believe it promotes only pop music that it can launch careers of singers who perform exclusively in genres other than pop.
Either way, Lauren Alaina, who was just 10 years old when Carrie Underwood won the American Idol title six years ago, has come a long way toward a career in music with Ms. Underwood as her role model.
Audiences will find out the winner tonight on FOX when the finale begins at 8 p.m. ET.
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