All About 'American Idol' Star Erika Van Pelt's Drastic New Do

03/22/2012 at 11:00 AM ET

Erika Van Pelt
Carin Baer/FOX; Michael Becker/FOX

Usually Erika Van Pelt rocks the American Idol stage with her voice, but Wednesday night, she made an equally lasting impression — with her hair.

Before delivering a rousing rendition of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” she debuted a dramatic new look. Under the guidance of the show’s new image advisor, designer Tommy Hilfiger, she shed her long blonde and red-streaked locks for a short, jet-black hairdo.

“I knew I wanted to do something drastic with my hair,” she told PEOPLE after the show. “I get this sense of liberation when I get my hair cut. It’s a stress reliever for me, to be honest.”

Another perk: “It’s nice to feel my neck again.”

Van Pelt said she’s no stranger to style decisions, and she’s sported both short and dark tresses before, just “never at the same time.”

“It’s actually been shorter than this before, so I wasn’t scared about that part,” she continued. “But I was sort of thinking what my fans would think and what would America think.”

So did her friends and family back home dig her new do? “They didn’t know until tonight,” she said.

“I am loving it,” she added. “I really hope that my fans and everyone in America likes it, too.” Tell us: What do you think of Van Pelt’s dramatic makeover?

–Alison Schwartz and Mia McNiece

VOTE NOW ON STAR HAIRCUTS AND COLORS

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Showing 90 comments

anonymous on

I love the new look.

naxia on

She was the only girl who changed her hair and listened to the mentors. I hope it comes back good for her, she looked great. But Randy kept saying how great it was the others didn’t change and followed their own hearts

Effie on

Did anyone else think Idol was like watching America’s next top model with the “makeovers”? Erika looked great tho! I think Idol is getting old…Heejun as a top 10? smh

LAF on

I Love it! Makes her face shine even more! and boy can the girl sing!

Jen on

I think she looks fantastic! Not too many girls can pull of wearing their hair that short, but on her it looks great :)

allison on

I love her new hair and look! She was my favorite last night for sure! I voted!

MD on

She looks 20 years older?! Who would do that to a young girl? Maybe if it was blond….?

phoebe on

She looked like Kris Jenner….

Victoria on

I love it!! This is a great look for her.

Molly on

She looks great! Wow!!

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