Taylor Dusts Off Harmonica, Kellie Puts Country Spin On ‘Grease’ For ‘Idol’ Tour

At tour rehearsal, top 10 finalists promise duets, group numbers, surprises.

BURBANK, California — Kellie Pickler has one complaint about the upcoming American Idols Live Tour.

“I’m really upset that we’re not going to Albemarle,” the Southern belle from — yep! — Albemarle, North Carolina, deadpanned during a break from rehearsals Thursday.

“Where’re we going to perform if we go there?” Mandisa shot back.

“Well, you know, there aren’t stadiums, but there are farms,” Pickler replied. “We can have a hoedown.”

Pickler’s had a hard time convincing tour promoters to hit her hometown of 15,000, but the good news is, she’s bringing her hoedown with her.

Pickler’s peppy country vibe is just one of a vast variety of styles taking center stage at this summer’s annual “Idol” tour, which kicks off July 5 in Manchester, New Hampshire (see ” ‘American Idol’ Top 10 Add 20 More Shows To Summer Plans” ).

“We’ve got so many different genres of music for the tour, I think everyone will find a song they’ll like,” Pickler promised. “And we’ve got a lot of surprises. We’ve got group songs and duets and everything.”

The Idols — the top 10 from the 2006 season — would like to keep the show full of surprises, but MTV News managed to get a few details out of them Thursday, beginning with Pickler’s duet.

“Bucky [Covington] and I are singing a song together,” Pickler revealed. “It’s a song off of ‘Grease,’ I’ll tell you that, but it’s still country.”

“Yeah, we could sing a song about a Big Mac with no cheese and they’d say, ‘Is that a country song?’ ” Covington added. “We checked out a bunch of country duets, but we wanted something kinda funner, you know? And there aren’t that many country duets out there.”

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“They’re all love songs, and Bucky’s not that lucky,” Pickler quipped.

Also singing together will be Paris Bennett with Lisa Tucker and Mandisa with Ace Young. “I’m going to try to sing over the screams of girls in the audience,” Mandisa said.

“[The concert promoters] definitely want us to do our compilation songs, but I think all of us are so tired of doing genres that we just want to sing, we just want to do what we do,” she continued. “I can’t do anything out of my niche. When I tried to do it, I got kicked off, so I’m gonna stick to what I know.”

Chris Daughtry and runner-up Katharine McPhee were absent from Thursday’s rehearsals, but winner Taylor Hicks was present and coughing up more than anyone else about his American Idols Live set.

“Expect some vintage rock and roll. I’ll probably do some Beatles, some obscure Beatles,” Hicks said. “And Kat, I love singing with her. I’ll do some stuff with other people. Harmonica, of course. I’ll be playing a lot of guitar. On the show I wasn’t allowed to be an instrumentalist. Now I’m free as an artist, and I’m very excited about that.”

And he’s not the only one. Covington’s been teaching Young guitar, so don’t be surprised to see either with an ax around their neck.

“And I can tell you I finally get to play piano and sing, so I’m so excited about that,” Tucker said.

And Bennett is promising both her of signatures from the show.

“I get to shake one more time, but this time I get to do it in full-fledge, and it’s not just a minute,” she said, referring to the Beyoncé moves she showcased on “Idol.” “And if I wear my hair the same for every song, people are going to be like, ‘No, that’s not her.’ So trust me, I’ve got some tricks under my sleeves.”

Third-place finisher Elliott Yamin is also looking forward to the comparative freedom the tour will offer.

“There’s no cameras and no judges, so I think all of us are gonna be a little more natural,” he said. “I know I’ll be a little more natural, less nervous. We’re gonna have a lot of fun.”

“We’re gonna do the crowd favorites, obviously,” Ace said. “But on top of that, I wanna show the world what’s to come from Ace Young, what my style is, what I write like, what to expect. It’s gonna be crazy, but I’m gonna definitely take the whole world on the ride with me.”

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