Season 12 of American Idol is in full swing, with the remaining singers in the Top 40 performing this week in Las Vegas. But let’s not forget about past contestants: Blake Lewis has secured a new record deal and he’s partnering with a major company on their latest campaign. Casey James is joining Taylor Swift’s tour — read on to find out which stops you can see him perform at. Also in today’s Roundup, the season 12 goodbye song has been announced, Bon Jovi will perform during an upcoming results show and Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj reveal if judging Idol is anything like they thought it would be.

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Blake Lewis Scores New Record Deal, Releases “Your Touch”

It’s been four years since season 6 runner-up Blake Lewis released an album. But there’s now good news to report for fans who have been waiting for new music from the beatboxer. Yahoo reports that Blake has signed a record deal with Republic Records. This is a big deal, considering after an Idol has been dropped by their original label, they usually end up with a smaller (possibly indie) record company. But Republic is a major label, with such artists on their roster as Drake, Florence + the Machine and Gotye. Blake’s first album with them will be titled Portrait of a Chameleon, and is expected to drop this spring.

“The vibe of Portrait of a Chameleon is fun, sexy and positive,” he says. “The sound that I have been striving for is somewhat of a hybrid. … Everything we have made for this album is handcrafted, coming from an organic place. I’ve been writing it for over a year, and throughout that time I get inspired in different ways, so the sound is ever-evolving.” Blake also mentions that he’s only “reached out to people I trust and care about” to help him with the album because, as he says, “My last couple of albums had too many people involved, and the creative had become lost because of it.”

“Your Touch” is Blake’s first single from the new record, which you can listen to below:

As if this news isn’t fantastic all by itself, Blake is partnering with Microsoft on their “Explore Touch” campaign for Internet Explorer. And they’ve released a commercial featuring the singer and his new song. “Your Touch” is very fitting to go along with the touch screens for Windows 8.

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Casey James Joins Taylor Swift Tour

Blake isn’t the only alum with exciting news to share. Not only will season 9’s Casey James be releasing a new single, “The Good Life,” soon, but according to ABC News, he’s joining select dates on Taylor Swift’s Red Tour as one of the opening acts. He’s scheduled for 20 concerts, beginning August 6 in Wichita, Kansas, and moving on to Oklahoma, Illinois, California (at the Staples Center, no less), Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, Minnesota, North Carolina and Virginia. He’ll be there for the final leg of the tour, which ends September 21 in Nashville, Tennessee.

This isn’t the first time that Idols have represented at Swift’s concerts. Both Kellie Pickler, who’s now a Dancing with the Stars contestant, and Danny Gokey were the opening acts in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

Season 12 Goodbye Song Announced, Bon Jovi to Perform

In all but two cases, Idol has chosen one of their own to perform the goodbye song every year. This year, it’s reigning champ Phillip Phillips. So whenever a contestant is eliminated, the song playing during the exit video will be his current single “Gone Gone Gone.” He’ll also return to the stage that made him famous on March 14 to perform that very song.

Speaking of guest performers, the March 14 results show will not only feature Phillip, but Bon Jovi will take to the stage to belt out their new single “Because We Can” from What About Now. But the difference is that Bon Jovi will pre-tape their performance on Monday, March 4. You can print out free tickets to the taping from On Camera Audiences.

Mariah, Nicki and Keith Discuss Judging Idol

The new judges have made it past the auditions and Hollywood Week, and are now sitting comfortably in Vegas as we get closer to the live shows. Now that they’ve had time to settle in, is it anything like they thought it would be? Mariah Carey told The Hollywood Reporter, “I didn’t realize how many truly talented people there would be, both the guys and the girls, and I really have gotten attached to certain people. To have to let them go is sometimes very hard for me.”

Nicki Minaj, on the other hand, assumed it would be scarier than it’s turned out to be. “I didn’t expect it to be this much fun,” she says. “I didn’t expect to be able to speak off the top of my head about people I never met before a day in my life and be spontaneous commenting on their performances. It’s definitely surprised me — for the better.”

When asked if being a mentor on The Voice Australia helped him at all with Idol, Keith Urban had this to say: “We don’t get to mentor the contestants as such on this show so I try to incorporate that in my critiquing of their performances because all of us want to help them. We’re not there to make them feel bad or embarrass them but try to give them some specific ways they can get to where they’re trying to get to.” I have to say, Keith is continuing to impress me all the time. He’s taking this gig seriously and we see that he wants to genuinely help the contestants. I have a feeling that by the end of season 12, he’ll move up a spot or two on our Ranking the American Idol Judges list.

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(Image courtesy of WENN)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.