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May 15, 2008
Idol Chatter: Bright lights for Syesha

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Fox

Finishing third on "American Idol" is nothing to feel bad about. It just depends on how a contestant handles the offers - because there will be a horde of producers, record execs, etc., eager to pounce once the summer tour ends. Maybe even before.

For Syesha Mercado, she's not going to let any grass grow. Not this gal! She did take time out today, though, to do a phone conference with reporters about what's ahead. Here's some of what she had to say:

Q: Maybe more than anybody, you’ve symbolized the real "Idol" journey. How did that work for you?
A: I consider myself a hard worker. I'm always rehearsing, trying to improve. I was in a little shell at first, thinking nobody sees who I am. That was harming my performance. So I got my mind right again, like at the audition. And I got comfortable with performing and the stage. I just enjoyed myself more every week. The goal was to feel satisfied after every show.

Q: Judge Paula Abdul said on Tuesday that you sang songs that didn’t define you. Your thoughts?
A: Everyone says I'm a mix of a lot of things. "Oh, she’s Broadway. A black Christina Aguilera." I love pop, R&B. I'm growing as an artist. People can see the transition I went through. You just learn so much. Everyone will know who I am when I put out an album.

Q: A follow-up question to Tuesday night: Were you puzzled by the producers' choice of song for you, "Hit Me Up?"
A: I knew that song. My nieces and nephews love "Happy Feet." They watch it over and over. I couldn’t change it. When something comes that’s a challenge, I try to turn it into a positive. It wasn't a singer's song. Most of it is back-up singing. It was weird.

Q: What did you learn on "Idol," and what was the best piece of advice you received?
A: A lot! That there’s a fine line between over-rehearsing and just doing what you need to do. Sometimes I worked so hard, I couldn’t enjoy myself. I learned to relax, read and deal with stress. Of the mentors, Andrew Lloyd Webber encouraged me to perform my song the way I wanted. To be animated. That helped me break out of my shell even more.

Q: Was it a roller coaster being in the bottom three or bottom two so often?
A: Every week is new. I never packed my bags. They ("Idol" brass) told us to, but I didn’t. If you want to be Top 3, you’ll be Top 3. (Now), whichever David is most passionate will win.

Q: Speaking of the two "Davids," what do you think is special about each of them?
A: They’re (each) really unique. David Archuleta has that beautiful smile and good connection with the younger audience. Girls go crazy over David Cook. Even older women love him. I've been both little sister and big sister, with just the three of us. We just had fun. The competition could go either way. I wish them both luck.

Q: It's come up a bit, from other departing female contestants, that this season there seems to be a preference among voters for the male singers. Any merit to that?
A: I never focused on the voting. It will be obvious at the end. It is what it is. Whoever wins is supposed to win. Being the last girl standing is an honor.

Q: What are your plans after the tour?
A: I tell people I want to do everything. I'm very goal-oriented. I want to make an album, star in a film, go on Broadway, open an organic restaurant! I write all my goals down. I'll look for the best opportunity and just live in the now.

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