Idology: Erika Van Pelt on Wardrobe Snafus, Charges of Oversinging, Her 'Old Lady' Status

erika van peltIn four weeks of live performances during American Idol‘s 11th season, Erika Van Pelt got accused of both oversinging and holding too much back vocally, rocked long blonde hair and a short brunette ‘do, and grappled with a mic she forgot was turned on, a medical problem that she chose not to publicly discuss, and a dress that cut off her air supply. Idology caught up with Erika to discuss all those topics, plus why she doesn’t consider herself a rock singer, whose song she coveted during Top 13 week, and how she and fellow “old lady” Elise Testone tried to turn the Bottom 3 stools of doom into a party zone.

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So press play below for the full interview, and for all my Idol news, interviews, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!



Comments (59)

  • Dang girl…you’re looking hot! I loved this interview – her vibe, attitude and personality are awesome! I think she was a great performer who could have used a better music platform other than Idol; I think the Voice would’ve been a better fit.

    Comment by RTW – March 28, 2012 08:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Awesome person, great vocalist. She’s my American Idol. Okay, maybe my runner-up (I LURV Elise!)

    Comment by Sam – March 28, 2012 08:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • OMG Sam you nailed it. Those are my top 2, You can have Jessica San-what’s-her-face and Phillip-I-have-no-style Phillips.

      Comment by Rick – March 28, 2012 09:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Love her! So sad to see her go. I thought she would for sure make the top 5. Also she kind of reminds me of Kelly Clarkson!

    Comment by Elizabeth – March 28, 2012 08:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I thought the same thing!

      Comment by GDV – March 28, 2012 09:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think so, too!

      Comment by Ghost of Kelly Clarkson – March 28, 2012 10:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Ditto. She has reminded me of Kelly Clarkson looks-wise from the start, but in this video alone, with all of the clips mashed together, she looked like Kelly Clarkson, Adele, and Kris Jenner at various times.
      Erika was my favorite contestant, and I’m devastated to see her go.

      Comment by Nicole – March 28, 2012 05:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Unlike Jeremy and Shannon, who came of as very gracious losers, unfortunately Erika seems to be whining a bit about perceived faults in the judging (the judges don’t vote, Erica) or issues with voters not going for older singers (or at least older females). I am not sure that either of these were really true. Jimmy was spot on that she oversang on Heaven. And I am not sure that the judges’s comments about wanting more on New York State of Mind were about wanting more vocal gymnastics as much as more depth of emotional connection to the song. You don’t necessarily have to do vocal gymnastics to give us “more”.

    On the bright side, her new ‘do and dark hair are much more becoming and she looks hot.

    Comment by BobN – March 28, 2012 08:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I disagree. Being a gracious loser doesn’t necessarily mean pretending not to be upset or like everything went your way. I think Erika was the very definition of a gracious loser. She’s honest while maintaining her grace. I’d much rather see/hear that than someone faking a good attitude. Not that Shannon or Jeremy were – I just do not at all believe Erika was whining.
      Loved this interview and loved Erika. A truly mature contestant. Beautiful voice. Hope things go well for her.

      Comment by soarin829 – March 28, 2012 09:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • agree 100% :)

        Comment by scrutinizer – March 28, 2012 11:11 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Erika is an adult having an intelligent conversation with another adult. I appreciate that she gave us honest information about what was going on behind the scenes. It makes for an interesting interview. She is not whining at all. She comes off as very level headed and personable.

      Comment by teatime – March 28, 2012 10:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I couldn’t have said it better myself!

        Comment by darcy's evil twin – March 28, 2012 10:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Yes. This.

        Comment by Cat – March 28, 2012 11:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You don’t think the voting on Idol skews to younger contestants? As long as it is unlimited voting – they might as well drop the age of contestants down to 15-21 because it’s all about the young girl voters – and, darlin’, they don’t vote for “older” women.

      Comment by wendeeloo – March 28, 2012 01:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved Erika and was sad to see her go after such a great performance. I like everyone this year, although I felt like there were several weaker performances last week and others should have gone home first based on that. I’m glad she’s going on tour. I think is one tour I am going to go see.

    Comment by dj – March 28, 2012 08:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • wow. this makes Elise the only person left that was born before 1990. that’s weird… Erika seems great. hope we hear from her again.

    Comment by noa – March 28, 2012 08:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think Heejun was born in 1989, but still. That’s a huge gap between Elise and everyone else.

      Comment by Andie – March 28, 2012 10:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Erika is a class act and a great singer! I would buy her album.

    Comment by Holly – March 28, 2012 08:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m glad she has maintained a positive attitude about the experience! I still hope to hear music from her in the future!

    Comment by Lauren – March 28, 2012 08:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really enjoyed Erika in this interview. She is so well-spoken and I loved her honesty. Michael, she would be a good addition to Idology if you ever wanted to expand beyond you and Melinda.

    Comment by zaza – March 28, 2012 08:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love her honesty and sense of humor. What an excellent interview! I’m glad she gets to go on tour– she deserves it. Question though: why was the interview in like, a weird conference room with kid toys behind Michael???

    Comment by Brigette – March 28, 2012 09:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • She ha such a great personality, they should have showcased it more on the show.

    Comment by Ash Q – March 28, 2012 09:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s cliche, but that girl really is as cool as a cucumber. Hope she succeeds in her music career — I think she’s great.

    Comment by blingedup – March 28, 2012 10:12 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • EVP was a great guest. I can only imagine everything u guys cut out. I’m gonna be sad when ENTV forces you to do only a 10-min interview with Elise. Remember the epic 1-hour interview with Haley Reinhart? Is this a thing of the past? WHY DO U HATE US, SLEZAK?!?! Stupid 10-min limit. SMH -____-

    Comment by rayato – March 28, 2012 10:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Couldn’t agree more with the interview limits. Just had to go back and see the five-part saga that was the Haley interview. Completely, completely brilliant, giving me “goosies” (sorry) yet again.

      Comment by TwoWire – March 28, 2012 11:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • For real! I always loved when Slezak, Averett, and co. got carried away with long, epic interviews of their favs. I’m not likely to forget the Kristy Lee Cook/David Archuletta robot narrative anytime soon, either. More, please!!

      Comment by Cat – March 28, 2012 11:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • True — there have been longer interviews. But those are usually reserved for those who have gone deeper/lasted longer in the competition.

      Comment by My Alter Ego – March 28, 2012 05:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Loved Erika and loved her more in the interview. Heejun, with his ridiculous antics, beating her is just a disgrace. But this is American Idol and Idol hates women. They like/tolerate girls, but hate women. If I was a female vocalist the last show I’d try out for was idol. The Voice & X Factor at least let women be women and give them a shot. Idol is broken. We’re watching the death rattle.

    Comment by Joe – March 28, 2012 10:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You seem to go out of your way to bash Heejun whenever possible. Fine if you don’t like him, but Erika as well as the other contestants are his friends and would be appalled to see such hatred thrown at him.

      Comment by rockandscissor – March 28, 2012 11:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What a mature, level-headed young woman. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. Mr. Slezak, you absolutely bring out the best in people.
    I can deal with 26 being “old” – I am concerned, however, that a size 12 is now a plus-size???? Yikes.
    Erika, I love your voice and enjoyed your performances. I wish you the best.

    Comment by darcy's evil twin – March 28, 2012 10:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Actually, size 12 (and I’ve been a size 12 for a while now) isn’t what it used to be. In the stone age (1967) when I was 18, I was about 130 and a 12. Now, I won’t say what I weigh but it’s a dang site more than 130 lol. I’m 5′ 4 1/2″ by the way.

      But I think Elise is looking just fine with her darker hair, and I liked her styling a lot better. I’m assuming those were her own clothes.

      I think AI is a lot poorer for not having her on the show. She added mature vocals, nuance, and sophistication to the mix.

      Comment by Ana Muti – March 28, 2012 11:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • My size 10 self is feeling a bit on the hefty side!

        Comment by darcy's evil twin – March 28, 2012 02:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Oh, and at my size–a 12–my doctor’s nurse tried telling me I was “morbidly obese.” I was absolutely indignant, and for the first time in my life told a nurse she didn’t know what she was talking about. I can do 50 (bent-knee, I have back issues) push-ups, my numbers are great, etc ad nauseum–AND a size 12–I mean–morbidly obese?? egads, I was ticked lol.

          But also there’s truth to the old creche that the camera adds weight. I’ll bet in person EVP doesn’t look all that big.

          Comment by Ana Muti – March 28, 2012 04:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • yes, size 12 and anything over it are considered plus-size. I know that sizes 00 – 4 are considered skinny and 6,
      8 and possibly 10 are average.
      That said, Erika looked heavier on the show than she did here… i wouldn’t put it past the suspicious idol cameras…

      Comment by Shana – March 28, 2012 04:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Erika should be proud of all her Idol performances.
    She commented that for New York State of Mind she thought that if it was going to be her last song she wanted to make it something she was proud of. That reminded me that Cook made a similar comment about his decision to change up Hello before top 12. I think it is good advice for any of the ‘older’ contestants to listen to all the advice they are given but at the end of the day to trust their gut and deliver performances which feel right for them.

    Comment by teatime – March 28, 2012 10:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • As a clarification, in my first statement above I was saying Erika can be proud of all her performances. IMO she had a very good run. I realized when I reread my whole post that it might sound like I was implying the last one was the only one she is proud of since that’s the one she mentions. I did not mean that. It was really two separate comments in the same post.

      Comment by teatime – March 28, 2012 10:55 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • So nice to see a real conversation amongst adults. It’s refreshing in world of teeny-bopper personalities. She’s the real deal!
    P.S. Never Forget!

    Comment by Volcfom – March 28, 2012 10:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What a great interview. She was terrific. You know where she would be a good fit for? The Voice. At least there they treat adults like her with a little more respect. We’ll miss you Erika….

    Comment by Twain – March 28, 2012 11:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This is the first year thar I’m considering getting tickets for the Idol tour this summer. I really hope they let Erika and Joshua do the “I Wish” duet!

    Comment by dee – March 28, 2012 11:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Indeed! That could produce electrifying moments while they’re on tour. (Joshua amazes me!)

      I was interested to hear Michael suggest that on Stevie/Whitney week, that the men sing Whitney instead of the women. I had stated that in the comments that week, only somewhat “tongue in cheek,” my theory being that it would have taken the pressure off of the women, and provided the possibilities for creativity because of the different range (if the guys sang Whitney).

      I was pleasantly surprised to see that many of the commenters were thinking along the same lines, and I’m even as all of you “free thinking” folk!

      Comment by My Alter Ego – March 28, 2012 05:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Oops — meant that I was “honored” (not even) to be among such a creative and free thinking group!

        Comment by My Alter Ego – March 28, 2012 05:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • An awesome, refreshing interview with Erika! I like that she gave real answers and not pre-determined “soundbites”. I voted for her and Elise on Billy Joel night (half and half) and was sorry to see that voters didn’t keep her around, especially because her version of “NY State of Mind” was gorgeous and a real stand out on the night.

    Comment by Meghan – March 28, 2012 12:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I won’t deny that she has a beautiful voice but I was never an Erika fan. Her performances just never resonated with me. However, I’m glad she made top 10 and will get the chance to be a part of the concert and I do think it’s a crime that she didn’t outlast Heejun.
    -
    While she shows here that she’s got a fun personality, I think she should be cautious not to bit the hand that feeds her. She’s extremely lucky that she was hand-picked to be in the semi-finals and then hand-picked again to be in the finals when the audience didn’t put her through. Rather than complain about the show and judges, she should show gratitude. I think the judges are loopy too but they never did anything for me so I can say so.

    Comment by Sandi – March 28, 2012 12:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She’s said (in other interviews) that she’s been “blessed” by this experience. She was asked pointed questions in this interview (not a slam on Michael–we all wanted to know!) and answered honestly, without blaming anyone. She just stated facts. It’s just the way things are. Should she kiss the judges tushies because they gave her whip-lash inducing comments every week? No.

      Don’t look at AI with rose-colored glasses. America is voting, but the judges (and probably producers) are pushing their own agenda and giving their “honest, off-the cuff reactions” accordingly. Well, except for Randy who either parrots the other two or just makes crap up on the spot that really means nothing.. No one is just going on talent. They are looking at marketability. And, teens buy more records than older folks. That’s a given.

      I was watching with a more cynical view these past few weeks. I predicted standing ovations before they happened (and, yup, they did happen!) and over-praising “best thing I ever, ever, ever saw in my life!!!!” And, unfortunately, I predicted (but hoped like hell I was wrong) Erika’s elimination. Final two predictions: either all boys or perhaps a Jessica-Colton finale (if the judges play their parts right). Nothing wrong with either one of them but…they aren’t my first (or 6th and 7th choice).

      Comment by Gina – March 28, 2012 12:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • This is kind of what I was trying to get at in my comments above. Very talented young lady who did very well and had a couple of moments (Lady Gaga for sure), but don’t complain about the judges, they are the only reason you were in the top 12.

      Comment by BobN – March 28, 2012 12:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am totally buying an AI ticket ONLY because of Erika. She is wonderful. And I’m very proud of her. Not only is she a great singer but she’s a honest, grown-up, level-headed young lady.
    I want more of this interview.
    And I’m very glad she addressed things that we know to be the case. They did give her completely different “suggestions” every week (do the judges think we were all idiots and couldn’t see it?) Erika was very gracious about the drum break that never was, too. I mean, really? I call hijinx on that one. And I call hijinx on Jimmy Iovine’s review post-that-particular performance. HE never mentioned the foul-up with the drums. Neither did any of the judges–entertainment professionals who could have given her props for not getting thrown by the drummer’s foul up. Instead, they made accusations of over-singing (which, to my uneducated ears, sounded like trying to catch up to the dopey drummer).
    Oops. Off on a tangent there.
    Anyway, all that is over…and I’m looking forward to hearing her sing live. I hope they give the contestants a little more personal choice in the concerts because I have a feeling Erika will be the big, breakout surprise of the tour. At least, for the non-tweens in the audience!

    Comment by Gina – March 28, 2012 12:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Way cool! It was obvious to many of us Idol had trouble dressing Erika: when she wore her own clothes she was current and when she wore the Idol clothes her entire persona changed to frumpy. The show’s clothes made her look matronly and hurt her. And why a woman can’t wear sneakers or sing Stevie is beyond me: I wondered on Whitney/Stevie night why they just didn’t let every singer choose a song from either singer. What happens when Idol directs choices, wardrobe and song, is that they very subtlely and probably inadvertently discriminate. The result too often is the women look like stiffs and the guys don’t. So the guys win. What a surprise.

    Comment by Yo' – March 28, 2012 12:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Totally agree! She should be able to wear / sing whatever she wants! Why can’t she pick a Stevie Wonder song, and sing in her cool jeans and Chucks???? That’s what I would do….would NEVER pick Whitney to sing! The show would have been SO much more interesting (and probably more KICK-ASS performances). The “powers” that be are TOO controlling of how the contestants present themselves, and their craft.

      Comment by Leah – March 28, 2012 02:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • As a performer, I can help you out with this. Why can’t they do what they want? Chaos is why. Every single event is a hurdle in the race to the Top. Every round each contestant has to prove they have what it takes to make it in an industry that is often unfair and very very cruel. Is it worse for women? Of course. Heels, makeup, corsets and tight ass dressed while men can often get away with jeans, Tshirts, a funky jean jacket. That’s just the way of the business.

        “too controlling”? They’re putting millions of dollars into these contestants and they want their blood money. “Fame costs” and Simon Cowell once called Idol, “A shortcut to Fame”.
        You don’t get many shortcuts that are as honorable as jumping through hoops and getting to do what you do in front of millions of people every week while working with famous mentors, coaches, and fans.

        Comment by Tyriq – March 28, 2012 08:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Too true, but really sad that girls can’t wear a tshirt and jeans like PP often does and be found acceptable.

          Comment by aravis – March 29, 2012 03:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • total class act. Love you Erika!

    Comment by Ellen – March 28, 2012 01:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I seriously love her. She’s smart and mature and crazy talented. Completely slipped through the cracks. Erika, go on vocal rest for a couple weeks and get rid of your nodes, and then come back and kick ass on tour.

    Comment by Karen O – March 28, 2012 03:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • can’t get it to play and have a mac and safari and lion….

    Comment by kelly – March 28, 2012 03:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Good interview…but would it kill you to make these vids longer Slezak? 15 mins man come on!

    Comment by James – March 28, 2012 04:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Erika and Elise probably had the same voters; split vote. It’s good to see that she’s got a great attitude tho. Hopefully she’ll be landing in some nice new professional positions soon.

    Comment by Tyriq – March 28, 2012 08:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • LOVE her! To the record company interns etc that troll blog posts and comment boards: GIVE THIS GIRL A CONTRACT. We will buy her album, I promise….

    Comment by PFitzDC – March 28, 2012 09:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love her voice, and I love her mature take on things. She gave a delightful interview! I will miss her on AI.

    Comment by nodak – March 29, 2012 03:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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