Experienced Singers on 'Idol'? No Biggie, Says Exec Producer
It happened before.  Carly Smithson got on board the seventh season of American Idol not exactly as untapped talent: six years prior, she's already released her album Ultimate High, under her maiden name Carly Hennesy.  It wasn't exactly the success it was hoped to be; nevertheless, she got considerable attention, and even some awards in her native Ireland.  When that fact popped up during Idol's run, viewers were outraged: why would Idol let someone who's already had a break into the show?

Surely you know Joanna Pacitti if you've been watching this year's audition episodes.  (Err, I'm not.)  She's getting the same amount of flak because of the same reasons: she isn't exactly a newcomer to the business.  And so the story goes: she was part of the 1996 cast of Broadway's Annie, only to be (somehow spectacularly) fired before things could even begin.  She's had a development deal with A&M records, and even appeared on an MTV reality show.  And so, the debate continues, from people who think she shouldn't have been let in—despite Kara DioGuardi recognizing her during the auditions, she was let through—and people who think she deserves a second chance.

So what exactly do the folks at Idol have to say about it?

Quite obviously, judging from the way they dealt with Smithson's past in the last season, they think it's okay.  “The question isn't ‘have you ever had a deal,'” executive producer Ken Warwick said.  “It's ‘do you have one now?'  If the answer is no, then you can compete.  If you were already a professional, you wouldn't be auditioning, after all.”

And, indeed, the rules do say you can join even if you've had a record contract before; just not an active contract during your auditions.  Surely they know who should and shouldn't get through to the auditions themselves—it'd be weird to see someone who was once a superstar audition for Idol just to flag up his/her career again?  In Pacitti's case, it's a development deal—it hasn't gone beyond that.  For Smithson, it's a record that barely got sold (partly because of circumstance).  I'd still call that “untapped talent”.

But, I don't know.  I leave the debate to you.

-Henrik Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: MSNBC
(Image courtesy of MSNBC)