Carly Smithson Shares Previous Album Experience

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Carly Smithson is at the center of an American Idol debate: should singers with a professional background have an opportunity to audition on the show?

The contestant recently talked to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about her previous recording contract and failed album "Ultimate High," released in 2001.

Brielle Von Hugel Photo

"I kind of had a bad experience," the American Idol finalist said.

Smithson (known then as Carly Hennessy) worked with Gregg Alexander, lead singer of the New Radicals and he pushed her toward a more alternative record that she was ready for.

"Gregg pushed the envelope with the lyrics," Carly said. "I thought it was a great, cool record. I listen to it to this day. It had some great tracks on it. He helped me find exactly what my sound was. I was pleased."

Given the adult nature of the CD, MCA waited until Smithson was 18 to release the single "I'm Gonna Blow Your Mind" (about oral sex, Antonella Barba fans).

It was gaining traction, she said, but then 9/11 happened and "nobody was interested in shopping a new record."

At that time, the label tried to promote the CD in Europe. Carly moved there, but she said the record company went away at that point and promotion really stopped.

"The [Wall Street Journal article that documented her failure] forget to mention all that," she said. "It looked like I put out a record and it went nowhere."

She said the reacton to the story "was kind of crazy. One article can have such a snowball effect. They believed everything in it."

After that, Smithson moved to Atlanta with her new boyfriend Todd.

"At that point, I really hated the music industry," Carly admitted. "I just needed to take a rest, just be normal for a minute, have a normal job."

She had met Todd (who is from South Carolina) in a Los Angeles airport and moved with him to Marietta with some of his roommates who did custom hot rods. She'd help out.

"I have little hands so they'd hand a wrench to me. They'd fit my little hands in little spots in motors. It was cool."

Read the full interview now.

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American Idol Quotes

Brooke White's tears come from the authentic, good soul that she is. Her heart was breaking because she was overwhelmed with the experience she had with the show and the gift that it brought.

Paula Abdul [after Brooke White was eliminated on season seven]

I read some of this online this morning and just for the record, the rumors — they’re not true. She’s part of our family and we love her.

Ryan Seacrest [on rumor of Paula Abdul being drunk on the show]