It was Grand Ole Opry week on American Idol, a genre which found a few contestants floundering in its unfamiliar waters. Allison Iraheta, American Idol’s resident “rocker chick”, at the tender age of 16, might have been expected to fall into that group; those too young to know the Opry, like its music, or have respect for its artists. Allison chose to sing the Patty Loveless classic, ‘Blame It On Your Heart’, to blow those expectations out of the water.
Singing only 2nd in the line-up and wearing a maroon-colored leather jacket that exactly matched the shade of her hair, Allison took the stage with guest musician Randy Travis gazing paternally from the audience like a wise old sage. It was immediately apparent that she had chosen to rock the song up to suit her style. She blasted through the lyrics with her usual raw vocal power, making it seem as though she had been rocking country songs for her whole life, and maybe some of yours, and loving it more than you, thank you very much! Her energy carried her across the stage with ease as she continued to power into the chorus. The alliterated string of adjectives contained within it, enough to trip up even seasoned performers, streamed like silk from her lips.
Not one sour note or awkwardly arranged riff interrupted young Allison Iraheta’s joyful performance. Not only was she clearly having a great time singing “Blame It On Your Heart”, but she gave the country song a sound so current you might expect to hear it on today’s charts rather than those of the sappy early 90’s. Of course her Joplinesque voice played a part in that update. By the end of the song you were completely enthralled, believing in both performer and performance as authentic, left wanting to hear more – the very goal of every artist in the business accomplished by a novice, 16-year-old girl!
That 16 year old girl with the power-house voice has been repeatedly compared to season one winner Kelly Clarkson by the Idol judges, and with good reason. Her consistently strong and pitch perfect voice is reminiscent of the ever popular Clarkson, and she also resembles her physically. As Clarkson was, Allison Iraheta is universally well liked by the judges, who week after week continue to be shocked by the level of commanding talent exhibited by one so young.
This week was no exception, as their comments ranged from Kara’s “You could sing the phone book!” to Randy’s simple, says-it-all, “DOPE!” Paula’s recommendation for Allison was to perhaps choose a song next time that would also showcase her vulnerable side, for variety. A sure sign from Paula – as if one was necessary – that she believes Allison will be back for at least another week.