'American Idol' singers bond during 'amazing' tour

Calling from a recent tour stop in Indianapolis, 18-year-old Allison Iraheta took a moment to reflect on what she'd be doing if she hadn't been a contestant on "American Idol" last year.

“Probably – man – looking into college,” she said, laughing. Then, reconsidering: “I’d probably be sittin’ on my butt right now eatin’ microwavable macaroni and cheese or somethin’ – just chillin’ ”

But “Idol” did happen, and the spunky singer with the crimson tresses and booming vocals has been doing her mac n’ cheese munchin’ on a tour bus.

Iraheta remains among the show’s most popular recent alumni, based on the explosive response she got at the Tacoma Dome last year when she appeared with American Idols Live! And Tuesday she’ll return to the area, this time opening for fellow “Idol” grad and second-place finisher Adam Lambert at the Puyallup Fair grandstand.

“It’s been amazing,” Iraheta said of being on the road with her bud. “He’s so much fun. He’s really like a brother to me and everyone knows that because we just bonded so well on the show – all of us, even (eventual “Idol” winner) Kris (Allen). It’s so much fun, being able to tour.”

But life on the road and in the spotlight hasn’t come without cost. “It’s crazy, man,” she said, laughing. “I mean, I can’t get away with anything because of the hair. People do recognize from far away. They’re like, ‘You look like that girl.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I get that a lot.’ ”

Iraheta will be backed by a full band this time as she performs songs from her debut album “Just Like You,” which peaked at No. 35 on the Billboard 200 and had sold about 103,000 copies as of last month, according to USA Today.

Those aren’t quite Kelly Clarkson numbers, but that hasn’t stopped some critics from comparing her to the first and most successful American Idol.

“The muscular, instantly recognizable growl that carried her to a fourth-place finish on American Idol’s eighth season is all she needs to seamlessly wed a collection of first-rate ditties,” writes Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Slezak.

Iraheta said she’s started writing music for her sophomore disc, though there’s no release date on the horizon. “A goal of mine is to have more of me in the next album,” she said. “Having worked with these top people – Max Smart and these amazing, amazing people – it prepares you as you learn what’s on the money for the market today.”

And now for the bad news she delivered about Tuesday night’s show: Chances are slim that Iraheta and Lambert will reprise that Foghat duet that floored Paula Abdul on the TV show. Not that Iraheta completely ruled it out.

“We’ve talked about it,” she said. “I mean, there wasn’t enough time for rehearsal. He was doing his own thing. We’ll see. We’re almost done with this one, this tour. We’ll see if we can manage to squeeze it in during one of the last shows, though.”

In other words, get ready to chant, people. “Slow Ride! Slow Ride! Slow Ride!”

Ernest Jasmin: 253-274-7389 ernest.jasmin@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/tacomarockcity

Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Puyallup Fair & Events Center grandstand, 110 Ninth Ave. S.W., Puyallup

Tickets: $25 to $45

Information: 253-845-1771 or www.thefair.com