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Idol Worship: Joanna Pacitti By The Numbers

Joanna The heat is on Joanna Pacitti. The American Idol hopeful wowed the judges in Louisville, and in the two days since we learned her name, has ignited a flurry of Web chatter about her pro past, reality TV history, who she's dating and whether she should even be eligible to compete.

It's nothing we haven't heard before. Just last year, the artist formerly known as Carly Hennessy, season 7's Carly Smithson, was criticized for having a previous major label release. Were it not for a Wall Street Journal article detailing the astronomical cost of promoting a new artist ($2.2 million for Hennessy's Ultimate High album, which sold 378 copies in its first months out), it may have taken a lot longer to make the connection. But once Smithson reached the Top 12, she quickly came clean, no doubt at the urging of the producers.

This time around, Pacitti's major label past was disclosed up front. She had a deal with Geffen/A&M (to which she was reportedly signedby Ron Fair), which resulted in a 2006 debut, This Crazy Life. The album peaked at No. 35 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart, but despite some steady soundtrack work (including a song later covered by Britney Spears for her Circus album), Pacitti's career failed to gain traction.

So for comparison's sake, let's look at the numbers. We know Smithson/Hennessy debuted pitifully. In the six years between its release date and her appearance on Idol, it moved an additional 2,400 copies. Since 2008, it's sold another 3,200 copies, bringing its tally to just shy of 6,000. As of Jan. 18, Pacitti's album has sold 15,000 units, which in today's sales climate, almost qualifies as a hit. In fact, a former Geffen staffer tells us Joanna "was a big priority" at the label, contradicting the belief that she wasn't given a chance and got dropped unceremoniously.

And there are more rumors — that Pacitti is dating Dancing With The Stars' Mark Ballas (that's true, which should make for some interesting run-ins in the soundstage hallway both shows share) and that she's already made it to the Top 36 (this, we can't confirm) — along with facts: that in the mid-'90s, she was branded "Little Ousted Annie" after losing a starring role in a national tour of the production (her mother later filed a $50 million lawsuit and the scandal was covered by Barbara Walters on 20/20 as well as mocked on Saturday Night Life) and that she appeared on MTV's True Life series, as — what else — an aspiring singer.

Does any part of her resume give Pacitti an unfair advantage? We're inclined to think not, because, let's face it, prior to Wednesday, we'd never heard of the girl, and we're in the music business. But what do you think, Idol Worshipers? Please, pipe in.

-- Shirley Halperin

January 23, 2009 in American Idol | Permalink


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Let her continue, and 'IF' she wins and then doesn't blast off, again! Maybe, just maybe she will give up and get over not being Annie!

Posted by: PAUL | Jan 28, 2009 12:29:34 PM

Idol is supposed to be about nobodies becoming somebodies. She had her shot, she doesn't get a do-over when she's got her name on quite a few soundtracks and yes believe it or not, people have heard of her before Idol. From that Barbara Walters interview 10 years ago, she's portrayed as a spoiled stage brat, outraged she got fired from Annie - big whoop, it happens everyday. Not everyone is destined for stardom. She's got an unfair advantage for already having a failed recording career. Let some unknown get their chance at 15 minutes of fame before failure. The winners seldom stay in the spotlight anway; the losers tend to have better careers. Pacitti doesn't know the meaning of patience, it's not going to happen overnight - but being on soundtracks and having a big pop star covering her song, I would call that a successful career - she just wants to be famous which is the wrong way to approach an entertainment career. She needs to give it time or hang up the mic and eat a sandwich.

Posted by: Juliana | Jan 28, 2009 1:20:13 PM

It's not that she has an unfair advantage, it's that she has had multiple chances at stardom already. I've listened to two tracks and watched her videos. Her singing/songs are mediocre Pop quality. Brtinney is a genius compared to Pacitti. She's very photogenic. Period. Give the shot to someone young, raw, and gifted.

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