When it comes to competing on American Idol, standing out is as important as singing well. After all, once America begins voting, they are more likely to pick up the phone (or tweet or whatever the kids do these days) for the most memorable contestants. And one competitor who has had no problem standing out from the crowd? Adam Sanders, who is competing as his drag alter-ego, Ada Vox. Will Ada Vox win American Idol? Each week it seems more and more likely.
Ada has continuously blown the judges away with her powerhouse vocals and her incredible stage presence. During the solo rounds of the Top 24 shows, Ada brought the house down with the Nina Simone classic, "Feeling Good," complete with dance moves. And when she was paired with another vocal powerhouse, Glee star Lea Michele, for the all-star duets on Monday night, she not not only held her own but gave Michele a serious run for her money. Watching the pair perform felt like watching two professionals onstage, rather than watching an Idol competitor who is still struggling to find their groove. "You figure out a way to bring the house down all the time," judge Luke Bryan said after the performance, and judging by the reaction of the crowd, they agreed.
Ada's incredible performances sailed her through to the next round, where she will soon compete in the live shows and fight against her fellow singers for America's vote. But though this is the furthest Ada has ever made it on American Idol, it's far from the first time Adam Sanders has auditioned for the show. In fact, Adam auditioned for the show in Season 12, and he actually made it past the judges and on to the next round. But Adam was cut during the grueling Hollywood Week, and after his audition aired on television, he says he received a lot of abuse online.
“After American Idol, I started getting messages on social media every day,” Adam said before his audition as Ada. “People attacked my weight, my sexuality, telling me that I was horrible, that I sucked, that I don’t deserve to be here, that I shouldn’t be who I am. And I let it get to me in a wrong way. It killed me inside. It killed me inside almost as much as people were telling me that I should kill myself … I was contemplating lots of things that I shouldn’t have.”
But now, competing as Ada, the singer seems to have way more fans than haters. And it seems that, in deciding to compete as Ada, the Idol competitor has really come into her own. Her voice literally defies gravity (pun intended since she sang that song) and there are very few competitors left on the show who have the same kind of range. Ada Vox might really be posed to win it all.
Yet what might be Ada's downfall is that she doesn't yet seem to have pinned down exactly what kind of artist she wants to be. While some Top 14 contestants, like Maddie Poppe, have an indie, singer-songwriter vibe, and others, like Gabby Barrett, are pure country stars in the making, Ada seems to be a bit all over the place. She has covered Radiohead's "Creep", gone Broadway with "Defying Gravity", and rock n' roll with The Animals' hit "House of the Rising Sun", and while she slayed each of them, this varied song choice doesn't exactly reveal the kind of record she would make as the winner of Idol. And on American Idol, where the judges often claim they are looking for the "total package," having a defined artistry is key.
Maybe once Ada hits the stage for the live shows, she will have discovered what kind of recording artist she'd like to be. Or maybe it'll take her a little while longer to figure it all out. Either way, audiences are privileged to hear this kind of talent belt it out every week, and whether she wins the title or not, Ada Vox has definitely made her mark.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.