Our very own Twin Cities ‘Idol’

Casey Carlson opens up to A&E about her experiences on the fame-generating show

Carlson continues pursuing music in life after

Ashley Goetz

Carlson continues pursuing music in life after “Idol.” PHOTO BY JULES AMEEL

Casey Carlson is so petite, with birdlike bones and a slender brunette prettiness, that the force of her voice is surprising. Certainly the 20-year-old University of Minnesota juniorâÄôs powerhouse alto wowed the judges of âÄúAmerican Idol,âÄù which Carlson was a part of only a few short weeks ago. Amidst the din of a busy Friday afternoon at the Stadium Village Tea Garden, CarlsonâÄôs former place of employment, the Alpha Phi sorority sister detailed to A&E her whirlwind taste of Hollywood, TMZ and reality TV. Carlson, a graduate of Eden Prairie High School , was comfortable with the stage pre-âÄúIdol.âÄù SheâÄôd done plenty of musical theater, including playing the lead role of Kathy Selden in Eden PrairieâÄôs production of âÄúSinginâÄô in the Rain.âÄù She took private voice lessons from seventh grade onward and participated in choir, so by the time she decided to try out for Twin Cities Idol in 2007, sheâÄôd had plenty of practice. Carlson was hoping for a âÄúfast passâÄù to âÄúAmerican IdolâÄù auditions at the time of Twin Cities Idol, but it didnâÄôt quite work out. She placed fourth in the competition, so she had to wait until the following August to try out. As we saw on âÄúAmerican Idol,âÄù she traveled to Kansas City with her mom and sang Vanessa CarltonâÄôs âÄúA Thousand Miles âÄù as her audition piece, impressing the judges enough to get Casey a ticket to Hollywood. This triumph was a secret she had to keep for several months. âÄúLots of people knew, but I told them, âÄòIf you tell anyone IâÄôm gonna get kicked off!âÄô âÄù she remembered. âÄúThe more people I told, the more pressure was on to keep the secret.âÄù To make a long story short, Casey flew to Los Angeles as one of âÄúIdolâÄôsâÄù top 36 and spent most of January and February basically secluded with her fellow contestants. She described a typical day in âÄúIdolâÄù land: âÄúWe sat around for lots of hours, since everyone has to have their individual rehearsal times,âÄù she said. âÄúBut [Idol] is filmed in the same studios as some soap operas, so we could watch the actors messing up. That âÄòbehind the scenesâÄô was fun.âÄù On a performance day, however, things were a little more chaotic. âÄúWe were up at 5 a.m., but the dress rehearsals were fun because of hair, makeup and wardrobe,âÄù she said. âÄúYouâÄôd only have a few times to run through your songs with the band.âÄù Was she nervous onstage in front of âÄúIdolâÄôsâÄù legions of viewers? âÄúYou donâÄôt notice youâÄôre being filmed,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs an intimate space and not a very big audience, so it doesnâÄôt feel like people are watching you, which made it easier. The cameras were just cameras.âÄù Of course, with reality TV fame comes the magnifying glass of scrutiny wielded by both tabloid reporters and entertainment bloggers alike. When asked about her appearance on TMZ, Casey laughed. âÄúI didnâÄôt see the TMZ episode, but it was not as I expected,âÄù she said. âÄúUsually they say mean things about people, but they really liked me. Nobody can take that away from me.âÄù Casey also laughed about the prevalence of her âÄúbikini pictures,âÄù which were taken last year for a Campus Girls calendar benefiting breast cancer research. âÄúI wasnâÄôt trying to hide them. It was funny because all these papers were like, âÄòWe dug up this dirt on her,âÄô âÄù Carlson said. What about those entertainment blogs, known to be unmerciful? âÄúWe were advised to stay away from the blogs,âÄù Carlson said. âÄúTheyâÄôd seen contestants crumble; theyâÄôll read something horrible and canâÄôt perform.âÄù However, for Casey, the criticisms didnâÄôt sting too badly. âÄúI will never talk about reality TV again,âÄù she said, âÄúbut I donâÄôt take it personally. When someone says, âÄòSheâÄôs a bad singer,âÄô itâÄôs not personal like, âÄòSheâÄôs a bad person.âÄô âÄú[Before you get to the Top 36] youâÄôve only heard good things,âÄù she said when asked about the opinions of Simon, Paula, Randy and new judge Kara. âÄúItâÄôs just a show, and when youâÄôve been on it, you know what itâÄôs like.âÄù We canâÄôt talk about âÄúIdolâÄù without mentioning its perky and charming host. âÄúRyan was really cool; he was my favorite celebrity on the show,âÄù she said. âÄúHeâÄôs super real, 100 percent himself on camera. ItâÄôs effortless for him. I had a really good time getting to know him; his job is to get to know us.âÄù But all good things come to an end, and CaseyâÄôs tenure on âÄúAmerican IdolâÄù came to a stop. Does she have any regrets about her experience? âÄúIâÄôd like to say I donâÄôt have any regrets. However, my song choice was the reason I got kicked off. I was taking a risk, and to them it didnâÄôt pay off.âÄù Casey said she did her best singing during Hollywood Week, where she sang Gwen StefaniâÄôs âÄúSweet EscapeâÄù and Secondhand SerenadeâÄôs âÄúFall for You,âÄù but her segments didnâÄôt air. âÄúI definitely wish I would have made it to the top 10 to tour this summer, but now I get to be with my family and friends. I missed everybody,âÄù she said. Back in Minneapolis, Casey remains totally busy. âÄúIâÄôm working on a demo with Paul Petersen at Masters studio. IâÄôm lucky because Minnesota has a really good music scene. [On the show] I wouldnâÄôt be able to be myself,âÄù she said. âÄúI really like indie rock, and you canâÄôt sing indie rock on the show.âÄù Casey said her demo will âÄúsound like a mix between Stars and the music of Her Space Holiday. It will be happy and upbeat, a lot of string instruments and a little techno influence too.âÄù SheâÄôll also be a part of the CW Twin Cities , hosting on-air segments and events. Casey plans to continue pursuing a degree in mass communication and is taking her second semester classes as directed studies, since the chaos of âÄúIdolâÄù kept her from campus. âÄúI was really lucky to have the support of people at the âÄòU,âÄô âÄù she said of her faithful voters. You canâÄôt have 15 minutes of reality TV fame without being recognized, and Casey said it happens. âÄúPeople will see me and think, âÄòThatâÄôs the girl from âÄúIdol,âÄù âÄô but itâÄôs awkward because I just got kicked off. The most adamant are 10- to 13-year-old girls. They love saying âÄòhiâÄô and getting autographs, but thatâÄôs what itâÄôs all about,âÄù Carlson said. Casey just stopped in at her old elementary school to visit the students. âÄúI met with 200 kids, and they made me posters,âÄù she said. âÄúIt was cool to say, âÄòI was here years ago, and imagine what you can do in 10 years.âÄô âÄù