New Pinay to be the Next American Idol

“Are you Filipino?” Nicki Minaj asked the 17-year-old who had sauntered onto the “American Idol” stage during the Sudden Death elimination round in Last Vegas Wednesday, Feb. 21. “Yes, ma’am!” replied the teen, who was dressed in a flowy mullet skirt and sky-high heels.

Latonio, a high school student of Anchorage’s East High School, sang Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way” and received a standing ovation from the judges. She was the last contestant called to occupy only 5 positions reserved that day for the female contingent of the competition. Five other female hopefuls were eliminated.

Latonio said she was “relieved” when she made it as finalist. Adriana Latonio sings Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way”.

Poised and ready. “I was like, yo! This girl’s a pro,” Randy Jackson said. Minaj was impressed by Latonio’s cool. “I did not see one ounce of fear in you. I think that you’re poised and ready. So congratulations little ladybug,” said Minaj. She called Latonio, who stands 5 feet, a “little tiny thing but commands the stage the second she walks out.”

Small town girl. In the clip that preceded her performance, Latonio was seen showing off the Anchorage landscape. “In Alaska, people think we have igloos, ride sled dogs,” she said, as the camera followed her walking up a snow-less road. “It’s a really beautiful state.”

On joining “American Idol,” she said, “I just wanna show the world that even a small town girl like me can go somewhere in their life.” Another clip showed her teachers, among them her vocal coach, calling her a very talented girl.

Can relate to Jessica Sanchez. Latonio follows in previous Fil-Am hopefuls who shone on the Idol stage, most notably last season’s runner-up Jessica Sanchez. ”I feel just I can relate to her,” Latonio said of Sanchez on another occasion. “We’re of the same age and I know she’s been working to be a popular singer for a while and her parents have also sacrificed a lot.”

Like Sanchez, Latonio showed her chops early in life. “Ever since I was 2-years-old, you couldn’t get the mic out of my hand,” she confessed. Five more girls and five more guys will be chosen as finalists on Wednesday, Feb 27. (Thursday, Feb 28, Manila time).

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