WHEN Haley Reinhart took on Rolling In The Deep on the American Idol 10 stage two years ago, she actually wasn’t too sure about the song. It was just fresh on the charts and not quite the smash hit yet.

“That was the toughest week,” said Reinhart during an interview with R.AGE last week. “It was hard choosing the songs, even with the themes they give you. But I learned so much from it.”

As it turns out, that was one of her most popular performances on Idol – at least on YouTube. It got over a million views in less than a month, and a re-uploaded version topped six million views. The performance was a hit with the judges too, who would later give her the show’s much-vaunted judges’ standing ovation three weeks in a row. Reinhart’s big, bluesy voice and subtle jazziness received much acclaim.

The Idol voting public, however, are notoriously fickle. After that stunning rendition, which Adele herself would have been proud of, Reinhart found herself in the bottom three, as she did on three other occasions until she was voted off in the Top Three.

But that popularity contest is now all behind Reinhart, and the former music student – who studied jazz in college – is now looking to chart her own artistic journey. She co-wrote all the songs in her debut album, Listen Up!.

“I grew up with music, and I write what is close to me. Listen Up! was about me living the time of my life and feeling good, and that is what I want my listeners to feel as well,” said Reinhart, who was in Kuala Lumpur to perform for her Malaysian fans.

During the two hour show, she belted out a few songs from the album like Free, Oh My! and Wasted Tears, as well as some of her more popular Idol covers.

Even with her solid music background, and coming from a family of musicians, Reinhart found Idol a huge challenge. All you can do, she said, is enjoy it as much as you can.

In terms of advice for the current finalists, she said: “The journey is not going to last forever, and as hard as it can get, it is still fun. Stay focused on what you need to do and don’t think too much. Don’t get distracted and enjoy yourself.”

Life outside the show has been equally tough. Reinhart was recently dropped from Interscope Records, the label that signed her straight out of Idol.

Still, Reinhart is soldiering on. She plans to release an EP later this year.

“I actually have a dozen songs in hand now, but nothing is definite yet,” she said. “If it is released, it will be very different from Listen Up!. It won’t be that lovey-dovey, but will carry a more feisty and punchy feeling.”

She’s also looking forward to collaborating more with another acclaimed finalist from her season of Idol, Casey Abrams. They have already released a couple of tracks together.

“We actually live very close by now in Los Angeles, and he’s such a good friend of mine. He’s helped me out with some gigs there,” she said.

The last five Idol winners have all been guys, and Reinhart has, unsurprisingly, been rooting for the girls this season.

“I still watch Idol every week like I used to, and I see some great girls in this season. So yes, it will be a girl this round!”

American Idol Season 12 airs on Star World (Astro channel 711) and Star World HD (Astro channel 722) every Thursday and Friday live at 6pm with repeats at 8pm and 11.40pm.

Tell us what you think!

Go top