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'Idol 5' runner-up Katharine McPhee debuting with different sound, look


By Christopher Rocchio, 01/30/2007 

Singing "Over the Rainbow" several times during American Idol's fifth season, 22-year-old Katharine McPhee said she thinks the song aged her 40 years.  With the Idol 5 runner-up's debut self-titled album being released on Tuesday, she said fans should expect something different.

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"I know people are expecting Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand power ballads, but that wasn't the direction I wanted to go in," McPhee said in the February 5 issue of People.  "These songs are much more me."

McPhee's new album features 12 tracks, three of which she co-wrote, and is a mixture of her "varied musical tastes," including funk, pop and dance.  During an interview on Access Hollywood last week, McPhee said she "had a blast" making her debut effort.

"I was able to be just put through the ringer you know in terms of just constant work without breaks and stuff like that and being able to come out with a smile," she told Access Hollywood.

During her time on Idol 5 last year, McPhee said she was aware that fans didn't really know who she was. "[Idol judge] Simon Cowell came up to me, and he's like you know, you're going to have to really kind of stretch your wings and show your personality more because I don't think America knows how really good you are," McPhee told Access Hollywood.  She told People she "didn't try to win" the fifth season of Idol and instead "just tried to get by."

"I think I came off aloof and kind of dry," she told People.  "When people meet me they are like, 'Wow.  She's pretty normal.'"

It's not just a different sound fans will need to adjust to, as McPhee's image has been revamped as well.  The cover of her self-titled album features a picture of McPhee straddling a chair while wearing thigh-high patent leather boots.

"There's like the sweetheart and there's the sexy girl who wants to go out and have fun," she told Access Hollywood.

McPhee is currently living with her seven-month-old puppy Nena in a two-bedroom condo in Sherman Oaks, CA, and is still dating her boyfriend of two years, 41-year-old actor Nick Cokas.  Once her debut album drops, McPhee said she hopes to "develop some projects" with Cokas, as the couple have already co-produced a play that "received rave reviews" at New York's Fringe Festival last summer.

"Things are great," she told People.  "He's really smart.  We love creating things together."

While fans may be seeing and hearing a different side of McPhee these days, those close to her know what to expect.

"She has a good spirit, a good heart," fellow Idol 5 finalist Kellie Pickler told People.  "She hasn't changed at all."


(Photo credit Fox)


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