After Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, which American Idol 2 finalist would be most likely to have a Top 10 single? Would you believe ... the pink-haired Vanessa Olivarez, who was the first member of the FInal 12 to be eliminated ... and who was the only Idol 2 finalist excluded from the live tour?

After BMG passed on its option to sign Vanessa, she, producer-co-writer Dave Pickell and co-writer James Collins set up their own independent record label, Toronto-based Outta the Box Records, to release a song entitled "The One," on which Vanessa also assisted on lyrics, as her first single. The B-side is a Pickell/Collins composition entitled "I'm In Love With My Best Friend's Ex." Along with releasing the single, the three partners are continuing to shop Vanessa and their recordings to established labels.

Note that, although Vanessa is from Atlanta, Georgia, the A-side of the single qualifies as 2 parts Canadian content (Music and Production), and the B-side is 3 parts "CanCon" (Music, Lyrics, Production). Since Canada requires popular-music stations to play 35% Canadian selections, and at least 2 parts CanCon is needed for a performance to be a Canadian selection, both of Vanessa's songs qualify.

Even though "The One" was released in limited distribution, at HMV stores in Canada and on (the Canadian version of, its Canadian content-driven airplay enabled it to debut at #10 on the Nielsen SoundScan Canadian Singles Sales chart for the week ended October 5. Continued Canadian success for "The One" may lead to a U.S. release.

Will Vanessa's single hold up as well as some of the other singles from American Idol contestants have in Canada? On the October 5 chart, the American Juniors' "One Step Closer" held on to #7 in its 7th week, Clay Aiken's "This Is the Night" / "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was 14th in its 17th week, Kelly Clarkson's "Low" debuted at #18, and Ruben Studdard's "Flying Without Wings" was still #20 in its 17th week. Oh, and Canadian Idol winner Ryan Malcolm's new single, "Something More," sold over 3,200 copies just at his hometown Wal-Mart in Kingston, Ontario on its release day, meaning that it should debut at #1 next week.

Nevertheless, even if Vanessa's success proves to be limited, we give her credit for making a splash on the charts before any other American Idol contestants except for the finalists. As we have noted before, it is very difficult to succeed in the music business without major-label support. Achieving a Top 10 single as a complete independent is a real achievement -- but it's only the first step in a long road.