Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: If at first you don't succeed … go on another reality show

Published: Thursday, April 11 2013 4:51 p.m. MDT

I sometimes want an “American Idol” do-over.

I was so young — so young — when I tried out and made the show back in 2003. A decade younger, to be exact, and believe me, 10 years makes a big difference.

Vocally I am more mature. Emotionally I am definitely more mature. My head is in a completely different place. My heart is, too, mostly because I’ve added four boys (one big, three little) to my life. My dreams are bigger, and include those boys.

I’ve often thought, “What would happen if I tried out for another singing competition?”

Former “American Idol” alum Jon Peter Lewis is getting to find out firsthand.

Originally making his reality debut on “Idol” back in 2004 and making it all the way to the Top 8, Lewis (or “JPL,” as Ryan Seacrest affectionately dubbed him) decided to try out for NBC’s “The Voice” — but this time as part of duo “Midas Whale” with buddy Ryan Hayes.

"Having been there before, I knew what was in store for me," Lewis told The Hollywood Reporter.

I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw JPL walk out on “The Voice” stage. At first I didn’t recognize him: he had glasses, was a few healthy pounds heavier and was singing Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” with what looked like the next Willie Nelson — folk style.

“No way!” I squealed and turned it up. “No way that’s Jon Peter Lewis.”

But it was, and the duo got all four judges to turn their chairs.

Usher and Blake Shelton both tried hard to win Midas Whale over, and even Shakira was anxious to work with the duo.

“I absolutely had a blast listening to you guys,” she said. But it was when Lewis and Hayes started speaking Spanish to her that she really flipped out.

“Where did you learn to speak Spanish?” she asked in her native tongue, surprised.

“I lived in Spain, and he lived in Ecuador,” Lewis replied with a perfect accent. (Ha! Look what an LDS mission can do.)

“You guys are so good, and so distinct. … I think you’re going to ignite a lot of people,” said Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Lavine, who ended up scoring the singers for his team.

"We’re making history," cracked Hayes. "We’re the first duo Adam (Levine) ever had, first ‘American Idol’ finalist and also the first accordion worn on stage."

Lewis said part of what made him want to try out for "The Voice" was the atmosphere — which was distinctly Cowell-less.

"I was very impressed with how much time they spent with us before the audition," Lewis told The Hollywood Reporter. "I also love that you don’t have to worry about being in front of somebody and having somebody ridicule you in front of the entire country. There is nothing about 'The Voice' that is insulting to the people on stage. It’s a nurturing environment for talent."

It's so interesting to me how "Idol" was really the first singing competition to send singers into superstardom, and part of what made it so popular was naysayer judge Simon Cowell.

But now, it seems nasty comments and brutal remarks don't hold as much shock value. People are getting tired of all the negativity and are wanting positive feedback and encouragement.

Lewis said at first he was a bit apprehensive to appear on another reality singing show, but ultimately decided to give it a shot. “The more I thought about it, the more I realized that what these types of competitions are phenomenal at doing is giving new acts exposure, and this duo that Ryan and I have done is absolutely new, and we are looking for some exposure, and there couldn’t be a better way for us to jump-start a new project,” Lewis said.

This has got me thinking … if JPL can do it after 10 years … hmm.

You just never know.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.

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