I truly admire the contestant who can stand in front of the three most intimidating people in show business — the "American Idol" judges — and actually perform well.

There are many factors that can affect a person's singing voice: climate, health, age, experience, stress and, of course, nerves. Getting up in front of the judges is tough enough. Add several million viewers around the country tuning in to "American Idol" every Tuesday and Wednesday night and it's enough to make anyone lose his or her cool.

Individuals let their nerves show in different ways. Some people have nervous twitches. Think Katherine McPhee from Season 5 and her obsessive knuckle-cracking. Some let it all out in one big joyous scream session. Brittany Wescot and her friend, Corliss Smith, were good examples of this Wednesday night, what with their hugging, kissing and shouting after they each received a much-coveted ticket to Hollywood. Some just get mad.

Julie Dubela, who was a top-24 contestant on Fox's short-lived "American Juniors" in 2003, decided to show a more grown-up and, er, passionate, side when she auditioned in front of the "American Idol" judges Wednesday night.

The judges dubbed the 16-

year-old's performance "not great," saying it was "overrehearsed and overacted." Randy Jackson even asked whether or not she had practiced it in front of the mirror. She said yes. (Hey, haven't we all?)

But it wasn't over yet.

Breaking into song after she was told "it's a no," she bantered back and forth with the judges asking "... what did you expect me to come in and act like?"

Simon Cowell finally told Julie to pretend that the camera wasn't recording (which, of course, it was), saying, "You don't need to play up anymore ... it's over." A very unhappy and seemingly less confident Julie finally sulked out.

I personally think Julie has a good voice — underdeveloped, yes, but good, nevertheless. Where she went wrong was in her timing and attitude. She started the song at the very beginning — not a very good place to start when you only have 30 seconds or less to make an impression. As a rule, the strongest part of the song is the chorus. Starting with the second verse is a good way to avoid getting cut off before you get to the good part.

As far as attitude goes ... don't have one.

"Don't audition for 'American Idol' ... don't watch the show!" Julie pleaded to the camera as she walked away. She should know by now that someone (meaning millions of Americans) is always watching.

For other contestants, however, it wasn't about losing their tempers — it was about losing the words.

Jason Rich from Stout, Iowa, had to start over — four times — before he finally got it together.

"Are you that nervous?" Randy asked after several failed attempts to get past the first line of the song. "I'm that nervous," Jason replied. Despite his shaky start, he was finally advanced to the next round. Lucky shot. Simon was quick to warn him, "Jason, I will never, ever give you that shot again." I'm sure he'll remember.

Others (like me) had "problems" with their vibrato (the little vibrations that make your voice go up and down when you're holding out a note). I used to love it when I got up in front of a crowd and the warble started in. On "American Idol," it was somehow kicked into overdrive. It was like I had zero control over my voice. I physically could not make it do what I wanted it to do. My nerves got the best of me, and even though I advanced each week, I knew what some people were probably thinking about my voice. Frankly, if I was a third person listening in, I'd probably think, "Wow! That girl is nervous, too."

Of course I was!

Control comes with experience, and I didn't have much up until that point. But last week there was one contestant whose control stood out to me: David Archuleta, our very own from Murray.

David and I have known each other for several years. We both take voice lessons from Dean Kaelin. (The best vocal coach in Utah, I might add.) David was competing on "Star Search" in 2003 at the same time I was competing on "American Idol."

His experience on another reality show certainly prepared him for this audition and gave him the confidence to fly by with ease. David used to come and watch me while I was on "Idol," cheering me on. Besides being young, fresh and super talented, he's a sweetheart who deserves to go all the way. Who knows? I may just have to pass my Utah "Idol" crown on to him some day!


Utah recording artist and actress Carmen Rasmusen-Herbert came in sixth place during the second season of "American Idol." She wrote about her experiences in her book, "Staying in Tune." Her first full album is "Nothin' Like the Summer," featuring the single of the same name.


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