“I think country is my niche, being from Texas. So that’s what I’m going to focus on,” Scarnato said. Like her tour-mates, Scarnato is locked into a three-month deal with Idol’s19 Management, which maintains an option to pick her up or make her an entertainment free agent. Up to this point, Scarnato says she’s heard nothing from 19 Management, and if they don’t express an interest, she says she’ll pursue a record deal in Nashville (although she hopes to continue living in San Antonio).
While Scarnato was pleasantly guarded, no amount of cynicism could possibly contend with the bubbly charm of Jordin Sparks, who radiated an enthusiasm so infectious and unforced, you could obtain a contact high simply from being in her presence. Sparks, the 2007 Idol winner, has already recorded one track for her debut album and will be flying to Los Angeles between shows in an effort to get the album completed by Thanksgiving. (It’s an established pattern with Idol that finalists are pushed to get albums in stores before a new season commences and the nation’s short attention span falters).
The 17-year-old Sparks said she’d like to mash musical styles together and “create a new genre,” adding that she’d like her sound to be “Kelly Clarkson meets Beyoncè meets Carrie Underwood.”
Fashionably late to the press hour due to some phone-interview obligations, Sanjaya Malakar hid his famously tortured hair in a baseball cap. The man described by fellow Idol Melinda Doolittle as “the ultimate entertainer” readily acknowledged the campy nature of his appeal.
“I definitely like making a fool of myself and having fun,” Sanjaya said, “so once people started talking about my hair, I started thinking about what I could pull off next.”
If he places no limitations on his coif, Malakar maintains the same attitude about his musical future. “When I say what I want to do, it sounds to people like I don’t know what I’m talking about,” he conceded. “I want to be R&B based — because R&B is my strength — with rock energy, jazz emotion, and world influences.”
We thought he’d already pulled that off with his version of “You Really Got Me.”