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'Idol' top 40 includes Yonkers' Melinda Ademi
"American Idol" narrowed its remaining finalists to 40, and among the contestants to make the cut is Yonkers resident Melinda Ademi (pictured far right).
For her first solo performance in the Hollywood round, Ademi wowed the judges and her peers with an energetic solo rendition of Jessie J's "Price Tag."
As Newsday colleague Jamshid Mousavinezhad noted, Ademi brought judge Nicki Minaj to her feet, prompting fellow judge Keith Urban to rave: "Effortless, clear and energetic — you have such a good light about you."
Earlier in the Hollywood round, Ademi performed Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops)" with a group of fellow contestants that called themselves the Swaggettes, earning a similar ovation in the process.
In addition to a notable voice, Ademi has an intriguing story. The daughter of refugees from Kosovo, she made it to the Las Vegas round of "Idol's" 10th season before that season's judges sent her home.
Ademi is one of 20 remaining female contestants on the show; 20 male contestants also advanced. The next episode of "Idol" airs Wednesday at 8 p.m., with additional cuts likely to be announced the next night, also starting at 8 p.m.
In an interview she did with "Idol" after making this season's Hollywood round, the 19-year-old songstress said she was ecstatic to make it that far.
"I believe I am the next American Idol because I work hard," she said. "I believe that I have fairly good stage presence, and I just want to do great things. And I feel like this competition will give me that opportunity."
Ademi said one of her favorite "Idol" contestants is season-eight finalist Allison Iraheta, in part because of her stage presence. "When she had the mic stand, and she sang the song, she ripped [the mic] out [of the stand] and she rocked it," Ademi said.
Life itself has also proven to be an inspiration, she said.
"I believe I grab inspiration from different places," she said. "There isn't just one person or one thing that inspires me, because life comes at you in different directions. And everything that I went through in my life has shaped me into who I am today."
"Idol" has had many Hudson Valley connections through the years. Among the new faces on the judges' panel is former Bedford resident Mariah Carey, who takes one of the chairs left behind by Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler. Perhaps Ademi is relieved Tyler's off the show. Although they both grew up (decades apart) in Yonkers, he was one of the judges who eliminated her during the show's 10th season.
Other local "Idol" connections include former judge Kara DioGuardi, who grew up in New Rochelle; season-two third-place finisher Kimberley Locke (a former North Salem resident); and season-five hopefuls Becky O'Donohue (formerly of Dobbs Ferry) and Brenna Gethers (formerly of Mount Vernon).
In addition, Ademi continues a hot streak for Hudson Valley hopefuls on reality-TV shows. In May, Harriman resident Jermaine Paul won the second season of "The Voice;" in September, Stony Point comedian Tom Cotter placed second on "America's Got Talent;" and in December, Mamaroneck's Carly Rose Sonenclar was the runner-up on Fox's "The X Factor."
As if Ademi needed any more mojo, Sonenclar is already following her on Twitter.
Need a crash course in Melinda Ademi 101? Not to worry: Newsday Westchester's curated a collection of four of her best self-produced songs from her YouTube channel. Check out her solid covers of Adele's "Someone Like You" (which already boasts more than 100,000 YouTube hits), Beyoncé's "Halo," Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" and Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" below.
How far do you think she'll go this season on "American Idol"? Tell us in the comments section.