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The American Song Contest Grand Final, which aired on May 9th, was nothing short of exhilarating. Fifty-six Artists, each representing a U.S. state, territory, or Washington, D.C., had been narrowed down to 10 performers. Each Contestant had an original song they performed throughout the competition, and the Grand Final would determine which one came out on top.
At first, it seemed like Washington state's Allen Stone was the winner. He'd racked up the most points from the Jury, a panel of music industry experts that partially determined ASC's outcome. But that was before the votes from viewers were factored in. Once America's voice was heard, AleXa, the K-pop star from Oklahoma, shot to the top of the final 10. She emerged with the most points overall by a landslide, winning the inaugural season of American Song Contest. And she has her fans to thank.
Below, we talk to AleXa about winning ASC, hanging out with Hosts Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg, and "Wonderland," the catchy K-pop anthem that took her to the finish line.
NBC Insider: How does it feel to be the winner of American Song Contest’s inaugural season?
AleXa: I still can't believe everything that's happened in these last [few days], it's just been this emotional journey, this amazing journey. It’s been such a fun and unforgettable experience. I'm still replaying the Grand Final in my mind.
What were you thinking during the moment you realized you won? When you saw the fan votes catapulted you to the top?
I know for sure one thing that wasn't going through my head: “Hey, cameras are on, don't ugly cry.” ‘Cause I did. But I was just so happy to share that moment with my team and my family. My mother was sitting with me on my left. My father was on my right. We were just holding each other's hands and just hoping and praying.When Oklahoma shot to the top, we were just so happy. I think everyone's souls left their body for a split second.
It really just showed how many fans you have out there!
I thank my lucky stars for every single fan I have—not only just as an Oklahoman, because we've got the Oklahoman pride. We wanted to get our fellow Okies on the AleXa train. But also as a K-pop Artist and as someone who has K-pop fans, it's so wonderful to see the sense of community these fans have online. They tell their friends who maybe aren’t my fans but love K-pop. I think that sense of fellowship is just so wonderful.
What made you realize “Wonderland” was the perfect song for this competition?
In preparation for the contest, we received a few songs that we listened to. I practiced singing through them a few times to get a feeling for them. But then when “Wonderland” stumbled into our lives, we knew this was it. This is the one we have to go for. And it was a big collaborative effort between these amazing five songwriters and myself.
How did you approach the challenge of having to perform the same song three times?
Following Eurovision, I knew the song itself couldn’t change, but the staging could change a wee bit. We were thinking, “What's 'gonna make this pop? How can we start out with a bang?” So we added those vibrant red ropes, the red lighting, and then, of course, the stunt at the end. And then moving to the Semi-Finals, we're like, “OK, the ropes are a good motif, let's keep that, but let's literally elevate the performance by elevating [me].” And then for the very end, we introduced the red queen. So taking the motif of those red ropes, turning it into the red queen outfit, and just putting her on a throne high in the air as she comes down. That was the Grand Final idea.
What are you most excited to do with “Wonderland” now that the competition is over?
I truly hope that maybe an album can come out, and maybe “Wonderland” could feature on that album. Because she's too good of a song to not be on a nice little beautiful album to send out into the universe.
What was the most surprising part about your experience on American Song Contest?
Just from personal experience in my career right now, as a K-pop Artist over in Korea, we haven't had live audiences for broadcast shows in two years due to the pandemic. So coming into this and then having a live studio audience and also Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson in the flesh emceeing the whole thing, it made me so nervous. I had to get used to performing in front of people again and not just cameras with red lights.
What was it like working with Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson?
Kelly is a Texas girl through and through. She's got that Southern hospitality. She is so sweet, so kind. I genuinely wish everybody in this world could meet Kelly Clarkson at least once. She is the legend, the icon, the moment. And as for Mister Dogg, comma Snoop, It’s literally Snoop Dogg! He's so nice and genuine.
What advice would you give to Artists competing in a live-television setting?
Definitely practice singing to yourself in the mirror. Be aware of how your face moves when you sing.You could think you’re holding this note amazingly, but your face might be doing something a little funky. That might not be the prettiest for TV, but hey, you don't [always] have to be pretty. And you don't always have to worry about finding those cameras. Look someone in the eyes. Feel their vibe, and give it back.
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