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Our obligatory post about Tampa Bay's Janell Wheeler and Michael Lynche, two of American Idol's Top 24



We here at SoundcheckCorp. have nothing against American Idol. It's been a pleasant diversion for its entire run, and we've gotten caught up in a couple of seasons here and there. We've posted about its alumni a lot -- see here, here and here, to name just three examples.) And as always, we remain fascinated by the fact that in three months, the most famous person on television will be someone you hadn't even heard of until this week.

But the truth is, we don't watch Idol. Nothing personal. It's just not for us. Which is fine -- we're happy to let Soundcheck's Uncle Sean and Uncle Eric handle the Idol-coverage duties around these blog-parts.

But the fact that two candidates for that title are singers from Tampa Bay ... well, when you run a blog about Tampa Bay music, that's pretty newsworthy, no matter what you think of the show.

So while we won't be giving you weekly updates on the status of both Michael Lynche and Janell Wheeler, who made Idol's top 24 this week, we will give you the quick and dirty lowdown on both, so you're up to speed. After that, be sure to follow Sean Daly and Eric Deggans for weekly American Idol updates. We'll hop back into the fray if and when either of these two comes close to winning.

Michael "Big Mike" Lynche: Lynche, of course, was the subject of all kinds of controversy when his dad, Marque Lynche Sr., told the St. Pete Times his son had made the top 24, thus violating all kinds of confidentiality agreements. The New York Post and other sources even reported Lynche, 26, who now lives in New York, was being booted off the show. Turns out that wasn't the case, and the 2002 Gibbs High graduate, a former D-lineman at the University of Central Florida whose influences include Maxwell, Lauryn Hill, Gnarles Barkley and Outkast, is in the top 24. Those are some pretty interesting influences -- sounds like a mix of hip-hop and neo-soul? Dude could be one to watch.

Janell Wheeler: The 24-year-old Tampa native lists her influences as Shania Twain, Johnny Cash and Fleetwood Mac -- and judging from her nickname ("The Sunshine Cowgirl") and the photos on her MySpace page, she seems destined to fulfill the role of the sexed-up country tart. Which is all well and good, but it's definitely not the most interesting bit of trivia about her. According to our friends at The Juice*, Wheeler has an on-again, off-again relationship with Mr. All-America-Everything, Tim Tebow. Can she sing? Who knows. But this seems like a backstory and soap opera that the folks at Fox and American Idol would be crazy to pass up.

Finally, one more bit of Idol-related news: Our Alexa Volland with our kid-sis publication, tb-two* chatted this week with Kasi Bedford, 19, of Seminole, an Osceola High graduate who got booted from Hollywood in week one -- she sang barefoot, prompting an unsolicited scolding from Ellen DeGeneres -- and she was more than forthcoming about what goes on behind the scenes at American Idol. For example:

What happened after you got your golden ticket?
I did about like four interviews, signed contracts, they do background checks. It’s a long process but so worth it.

What was in the contract?
The contracts were nuts! I just had to make sure I didn’t say anything about the show, bad-mouth the show and that my family wouldn’t say anything, either. It was about 200-something pages.

Anything interesting happen off camera?
The guy who got arrested was being taken down right as my group was being brought up to audition, and all the security guards pushed the other contestants and their families back to protect us because this guy was going nuts! I pushed the (security) guy off of me because I’m super nosey and wanted to know what was going on … but I didn’t get to see anything because more security was standing in front of me.

It's a revealing interview, and well worth a read if you're an Idol fan. Click here for the whole thing.

Okay, that about does it for us on the American Idol front. Remember to follow Sean and Eric for more consistent updates. And wake us when it's time for the finals.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:17pm]


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