At the end of a night filled with an eclectic mix of songs ranging from Tom Jones’s “Sex Bomb” and “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)” by Cher, LSA sophomore Carly Atto was declared the winner of the Michigan Idol singing competition by a landslide yesterday night.

As the winner of the event, Atto won not only the Michigan Idol 2008 title, but also $500 in prize money provided by the University Unions Arts & Programs.

College of Engineering freshman Hannah Goff won second place and $200, while LSA freshman Allison Herbert, who came in third, won an iPod Shuffle courtesy of U-M Computer Showcase.

Michigan Idol, in its fifth year, is a three-week competition divided into three rounds: tryouts, preliminaries and the finale. During the first two rounds, the singers were narrowed down from 40 contestants to the 12 who performed yesterday.

Three judges – School of Education senior Angela Davis, who was runner-up in the Michigan Idol competition last year; LSA junior Brendt Rioux, general manager for WCBN 88.3 Ann Arbor; and Brian Buckner, a music director and former judge of the competition in 2007 – moderated the event.

Although the judges commented on each performance, the ultimate decision was left up to the audience of about 300 people.

This year marked the first time the competition was televised. WOLV-TV broadcasted the event, which was held in the Michigan League Ballroom.

LSA senior Dana Sarber, who helped organize the event as a program assistant for University Unions Arts & Programs, said in addition to the television adjustments, there were other changes to this year’s show.

One notable change was the ability to text in a vote. Sarber said that for last night’s performance, about 50 texts were received.

The event also included personal interviews of the contestants recorded for the TV broadcast. This year, the dance groups Dance2XS and NVRFLO performed during the intermissions.

Although there were many changes in the format of the show, some said that the problem of favoritism remained.

“The system is such that whoever brings the most friends wins,” Rioux said.

LSA sophomore Ben Lee, who performed “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss),” was a victim of Rioux ‘s Simon Cowell-like pessimism.

“On the plus side, you managed to sound less masculine than Cher,” Rioux said of Lee’s performance.

When asked to comment on the event and the criticisms the judges offered, Lee said, “The sad truth is it’s becoming a popularity contest.”

Buckner disagreed.

“Obviously Carly brought a lot of friends, but I think she had a strong performance though the three weeks.”

Even though Atto won over the audience, she said she has never sung competitively before.

“My roommates made me do it. I always sing obnoxiously at home, and they said it would be worth winning $500 for it,” she said.

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