Carley Smithson

Idol Chatter interviewed Carly Smithson, sixth-place finisher on American Idol in Season 7, back in September.

It might seem a little odd to hang on to that interview until now, but she is such a down-to-Earth, interesting person it only seemed right to hold it until the eve of Season 10 just to prove to you there are real people behind those singers you will see on stage this season. Oh, probably none like Carly, but they all have a story you may or may not hear over the course of the next four months.

You are encouraged to read the entire interview with Carly on a subsequent post here. For now, these are her thoughts on her fellow San Diego County native Adam Lambert and some of what she and her husband went through during her time on American Idol.

“I have never met Adam Lambert. But absolutely, I am a big fan of his. I think his voice will go down in history as one of the greatest voices I have ever heard. He did say in the Rolling Stone interview that he thought I was fierce cause he watched the show while he was in Wicked. I would love to meet him. He seems like a very carefree person.

“He did everything on Idol that I didn’t do. I got on the show and I got immediately, very attacked mail-wise. Absolutely, I got tons of mail. People liked my voice, but they didn’t like by tatoo. People would say that they really wanted to vote for me but they didn’t believe in ‘sullying your body the way you do.’ Like how bizarre and really how sad that you think that way. My husband would look at me on the stage and say, ‘Who is that? That’s not my wife.’ We were in this other universe because we couldn’t go out and spend a ton of money. You have a stylist and you have maybe 15 minutes to pick an outfit out. I was on Idol before there was someone who actually stepped out. There hadn’t been a female who was tatoed before, there wasn’t someone who was going  after that rock-and-roll place.

“There was a video put out early on and Brooke White was like an angel and Carly Smithson was like the devil. So at an early time I was aware that I had to appeal to an audience that watches Idol so I kinda played it safe and still always stayed true to the fact that I wanted to play rock music. Unfortunately, it was the image. I tried to do Iron Maiden and I wanted to do it with an orchestra but it didn’t clear. So, I felt like I was in a limited universe.

“And even though David Cook was a rocker, I guess he was a little more cleaner so to speak than I was. Not in the sense of cleanliness, but you know what I mean. He always said he was tattooed and I said, ‘No, you’re not!’ 

“Like a lot of my body is covered and for a female that’s a little different for a conservative audience that might watch Idol.

“Like Adam Lambert didn’t give a shit. he just went out on stage and he was who he is and I became a fan of his very quickly because he did everything that I probably should have done. I mean, I got very far and I was very happy with my finishing place but musically I definitely would have liked to do… there are many, many songs that I wanted to do but they didn’t clear.

“I guess Idol got a new clearance person the year that we left so Adam had a little more variety to choose from than we did. Like Mariah Carey week. What am I supposed to do with that? Dolly Parton Week? What am I supposed to do with that? I always tried to turn everything into a ballad or something but I found it very difficult. 

“My husband got threats. People saying he needed to leave me because he was holding my career back cause ‘Your (Carly’s husband Todd) face it tattoed. Who are you to have that opinion of us? He would get it at the (tattoo) shop. I felt at an early time I needed to be in tune with the audience. Sometimes I felt like I looked like a Christmas cake. I wear band shirts and tattoo shop T-shirts I’ve collected over the years. Idol doesn’t allow you to wear that. Nothing with a logo on it was allowed.

“Paula (Abdul) told me to stop wearing black cause she said I would get voted off, that was at the Top 16 level. I definitely paid attention to that. I felt uncomfortable. My husband would say, ‘What the hell are you wearing. Who are you?’ I would say I know but I am in the show. It was funny.”