Saturday, February 17, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Save your Seattle snark, Simon

Seattle Times TV writer

All right, Seattle: Are we feeling smug now that three locals have made it into next week's semifinal round on "American Idol"?

Judge Simon Cowell dogged us during the auditions last fall. But no one proves him wrong better than Blake Lewis of Bothell, 25, a full-time musician who goes by the name "Bshorty."

"There's so much good music, so many good vocalists here," Lewis said in a telephone interview Friday from Los Angeles, where "Idol" films. He said people probably know of Seattle's Sub Pop Records and emo music, but that there is also hip-hop and electronic music here, and a great rock scene.

Lewis has been a part of the local hip-hop scene, working with Common Market and Sabzi of the Blue Scholars. He performed beat box, using his voice like a percussion instrument, as an opening act for Spearhead when the band toured here. He's played at area venues like the Nectar Lounge, Chop Suey and Lo Fi and makes a point to take in two local bands each week.

Sanjaya Malakar, 17, is a member of Seattle's Total Experience Gospel Choir, which he credits for helping hone his once-shy voice. "It's helped me to come out, to just be myself and to let it all out," said the Federal Way resident. His family is very musical, he said. Their influence, as well as the indie Seattle music scene, have had their effect on him.

The third local semifinalist, Amy Krebs, 22, grew up in Des Moines, attended a musical-theater college in New York and recently returned to the Puget Sound area.

"I love the fact that Seattle is a little more grunge, a little more mellow," she said. "I love how it's all about singer-songwriters, and that, I think, is something unique to Seattle."

Krebs said the fact that three locals have advanced to the round of 24 semifinalists obviously "proves it" for Seattle, no matter what Cowell said.

She spent part of Friday rehearsing with the "Idol" band for next week's live performances. (The men's round airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. on KCPQ, the women's round on Wednesday at the same time.)

"It's a good girls round," she said. "Every single girl is fierce. Stiff competition."

All three competitors agreed that what viewers see on TV truly portrays their real-life selves. The only thing that's been edited out, Lewis noted, has been him singing; so far, "Idol" has only shown him beat boxing. That'll change when he performs Tuesday, he said.

"American Idol" remains wildly popular in the eyes of millions. There is no better proof of how it can transform lives than the success of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks and Jennifer Hudson.

The public will cast its votes in next week's live "Idol" shows by calling in. The two lowest vote-getters of each gender will be eliminated, announced in a live results show that airs Thursday.

Florangela Davila: 206-464-2916 or

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