Part 3 of a conference call with Kara DioGuardi on Feb. 10, 2010:

Q: A lot of the producers, and Randy Jackson in particular, have been saying things like they would really like to see a girl win this year, and we’ve certainly seen a lot of girls with wonderful talent sort of front and center in the edits so far. Do you have a preference one way or another?

Kara: “I would love to see a girl win. I think that this year, or especially what’s going on in music currently, it’s the women’s movement. You’ve got Taylor Swift. You’ve got Beyonce. You’ve get Kesha. You’ve got Katy Perry. You have Lady Gaga. You have these very unique women at the forefront of the music industry that all have their own voices, that all have their own styles, and I think that just looking at the pool of talent we have this year, it’s similar to that. They’re unique. They’re different. They have a voice, but I also do think that the men are very good, the ones that we do have. They may not be … different as the women, but they’re solid singers. I do think it’s a lot easier to break women than men, actually, in terms of their records once the show is done.”

Q: Speaking of unique female singers, you must’ve been thrilled when Colbie Caillat won those Grammys for her album since you had so much to do with it.

Kara: “Yes, I was so happy for her. I think she’s underrated as a singer. I don’t think she gets enough coverage. She’s got an incredible voice. The moment she comes on the radio you know exactly who it is. She kind of has so much emotion, and I think that makes for the best singers.”

Q: Kara, I wanted to ask you specifically about Janell Wheeler who is from our area. What did you think of her?

Kara: “Well, I think she’s a great singer because we put her through. Last night you could obviously see we were thinking she was great.”

Q: How are you doing this season?

Kara: “I’m good. It’s hard these calls because you don’t want to reveal too much, and you feel already a real, it is almost a passion for a bunch of these contestants, and you just want to make sure that when you’re talking about the shows you don’t say anything that would hurt another contestant or keeping them from going where they need to go. You’ve just got to be careful. That’s why I’m a little guarded about talking about the contestants because I want to give them all a fair shot.”

Q: You do feel more comfortable though.

Kara: “Yes, definitely. That was very scary to go from behind to the scenes to in front of 30 million people. I think that people thought I was very serious last year, like I didn’t maybe have a sense of humor. I feel like I do, that actually I’m more of a goofball than probably anybody on that panel.”

Q: Last night the talent … so great, and it was, I don’t know if it was just the way they edited the show, but like, American Idol goes acoustic. This being the show’s ninth season, do you think at this point having that additional musicality really helps the contestants?

Kara: “Oh, 100 percent. There are so many contestants that when they come in on the audition rounds, I’ll ask them, “Do you play? Do you usually play an instrument when you perform?” They’ll always say yes, and those are the ones that look so uncomfortable when you take their instrument away from them. They need that. It’s part of who they are, and it’s part of their performance, and when you take it from them, … lost, so enabling them to bring that guitar or bring that piano into the Hollywood Week just shows you a different side them.”

Q: When people are singing your song, do you find yourself a little bit more critical of their interpretation or their performance, or is there a little bit more like a quiet bias?

Kara: “Well, when they sing my songs, I’m always … because I don’t know it’s coming, so it always takes me a little off guard, and then with Didi, it was a very different interpretation than mine. It took me a second to be, like, what song is that. Oh my God, that’s “Terrified.” When I was listening to it, I thought, “Okay, wow. This is very interesting what she brought to it,” and I really could appreciate it.
“At first it’s that second of what’s going on here. This is very strange. How’d she find that song? By the end of it you’re either digging it which in Didi’s case I was, or you’re not, and you don’t want to be bias because they sung your song. You have to tell the truth.”

Q: I want to get your thoughts, how did you think Carrie Underwood did during the National Anthem (at the Super Bowl in Miami on Sunday)? She actually appeared to sing it live and not lip sync it, which most people seem to do nowadays.

Kara: “Kudos to anybody who sings that song live. It’s just the scariest thing to do. I don’t know if you’ve ever done that, but, wow, that is a rangy song. If you could imagine standing in that stadium and knowing that every eye is on you, wow. I don’t know. It’s pretty crazy to think that she was a girl from a small town a few years ago. This was her dream and to be in that position. That shows you the power of the show, what can actually happen. Kudos to her for singing live.”

Q: Have you ever done it yourself?

Kara: “I have, yes, at many legion clubs and things back in Westchester County. I can’t say it was anything as fabulous as what she did, but scary still.”