I confess when Carly Smithson first appeared on American Idol season 7, I very vocally expressed my doubts regarding whether or not she belonged on such a show at all. I admittedly harbored a lot of skepticism over her teen-pop past (as Carly Hennessy) and former major-label deal, as well as the huge amount of hype she received from the judges from the get-go. But eventually...I could not deny THOSE PIPES. Carly outsang much of her competition last season, powering her way through multi-octave blitzkriegs like Heart's "Crazy On You" and "Alone," the Beatles' "Come Together," Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse Of The Heart," Queen's "The Show Must Go On," and "Jesus Christ Superstar"--some of THE most difficult songs to tackle in the Idol songbook.
Clearly this was a woman who was born to belt out rock 'n' roll at the tip-top of her lungs, not warble nice songs on a nice family TV show. Perhaps that's why Carly, a seeming frontrunner last year, only made it to sixth place. I naturally assumed she would capitalize on her television fame and rush-release a solo album, and when she didn't, I wondered if she'd become yet another Idol footnote. But I realize now that, after several false starts in her long career, she was just taking her time, waiting for the right opportunity.
And now, Carly has found the ideal outlet for her talents: We Are The Fallen, a new cranked-to-11 hard rock band featuring original Evanescence members Ben Moody, Rocky Gray, and John LeCompt. The band made their live debut yesterday at a press conference at Hollywood's SIR Studios, performing two LOUD stadium-rockers that instantly turned my eardrums to mush: their debut single "Bury Me Alive" plus, much to the surprise of me and the intimate industry crowd, "Going Under" from Evanescence's huge-selling album Fallen.
Yes, this is the music Carly is supposed to make, true to herself. No more hiding her sleeve tattoos (or tattoo-faced husband Todd, who attended the showcase with Carly's mom) from the public for fear of spooking out conservative Idol viewers. No more having to tone down her metal-diva vocals for Country Night. As Carly said in an enthusiastic statement about her new band, which is definitely now her full-time occupation and not a side-project: "I am finally home. As an artist I have never been happier. Creatively, musically, visually, and on a comedic level, we are united and together on the same page. We are a family."
On a comedic level, Carly's bond with her new family was apparent in an impromptu interview I conducted after their showcase. Still giggling over some inside joke about "holes" mentioned in a previous interview (seriously, don't ask) and a reference another interviewer made to Carly's past as a child-actress spokesgirl for Denny's sausage (which prompted many more Beavis-like snickers), We Are The Fallen's camaraderie was amusingly evident, and their interview was a total free-for-all from the moment Ben Moody hilariously explained why he actually never watches American Idol.
Here's the band talking about their future plans, sausage, Idol stigma, how Carly has grown since her pop-music debut at the tender age of 14, and...Constantine. Yes, Constantine. Watch and enjoy:
And below are two clips ("Bury Me Alive" and "Going Under") from the group's live debut, with Carly in all her sooty-eyed, black-leathered glory. Her band may be called We Are The Fallen, but they seem to be headed nowhere but up.
To get a free download of We Are The Fallen's "Bury Me Alive," click HERE.