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With a big smile and a penchant for rock music, little Lisa Tucker was a surprisingly quiet but powerful little package, and one of the judge's early favorites. In a season with more young performers than any other, this sixteen year old from Anaheim, California, wowed everyone with her strong vocals, causing Simon to crown her the most talented sixteen year old he'd ever heard. Sadly, it wasn't enough to save her, but she did make it far enough for the summer tour. In her interview, she talks about her excitement over the tour, her friendship with Paris, her quiet demeanor, and what she thought about her risky song choice, "Because of You".
Q: Good morning, Lisa.
Q: So were you completely taken by surprise that you got voted off last night?
A: I was prepared for anything that was going to happen, so I just took it in stride. I knew that I was going to be okay whether or not I was going home.
Q: How did you deal with the judgeís constant criticism that everything you sang seemed too old for you?
A: It was tough, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. I respected their opinion. They are just a person telling me what they think, and thatís the way I have to look at it.
Q: I appreciated you guitar playing that they had the snippet briefly of. Do you think that that would have been maybe an advantage? Sometimes people feel more comfortable when theyíre singing and playing an instrument. Do you think things might have been different if they had allowed you to play the guitar?
A: Not necessarily. Iím pretty much comfortable if Iím just singing period, so I donít think would have made too much of a difference.
Q: In terms of the judges, which one do you think offers the most constructive advice?
A: They each have their days. Sometimes Simon will just say something horrible and he wonít give anything that you can improve on. Or sometimes Randy will just say, ďI didnít like it.Ē But a lot of times actually all of them will give you what you want to hear.
Q: How did you decide on singing Kelly Clarkson this week?
A: I was going through a whole list of songs and I just made a full turnaround back to this one. I thoroughly thought out all the risks that I was taking doing it and everything, and I just wanted a real singerís song. So I just wanted to show everyone that I can really sing.
Q: And what were some of the other songs you were considering?
A: Some Alicia Keyes songs and Gavin Degras songs, but itís tough to get songs cleared. You know?
Q: Were you shocked to see Katherine McPhee standing next to you last night? I think a lot of people were.
A: Yes, I was a little surprised. I was, to be honest.
Q: Now you seemed so at peace last night. Why was that? Is that just your personality?
A: Thatís pretty muchóIím a pretty optimistic person I guess. I was just prepared for whatever was going to come. I knew that either youíre number one or everyone is going to have their time where they go, so I just have to be satisfied with how far Iíve gotten.
Q: Now you seemed to handle the judgeís negative criticism well. But did their negative comments make each performance more difficult, especially after their earlier positive reinforcement?
A: Not really. Of course you always want to get good comments from the judges, but you canít please everybody. I think I would really go insane if I tried to please everyone. You can try all you want, but itís not going to happen. The point was that I wanted to feel good about myself after my performance, and I really, really did.
Q: Well thatís great. Now what did Paris say to you after last nightís show? She was obviously emotional.
A: Oh, yes. Well weíre roommates and we had school together and everything, so we were really, really close. We have the tour during the summer, so thereís nothing to worry about. Talking about how much weíre going to miss each other for a little while.
Q: Simon said last night that he wasnít surprised at the bottom three and he kind of thought anyone could have been in the bottom three from Tuesday night. What do you think? Whatís your take on that?
A: Heís very, very right in the fact that it could be anybody. The show is so unpredictable and you really have to vote for your favorite to stay in the game, because everyone is so good and America just has to vote.
Q: So you werenít necessarily shocked at the outcome last night?
A: I was just prepared for anything that was going to come.
Q: When Randy says, ďPick better songs,Ē do you really think heís saying pick a song that I like better?
A: I donít know. You always take everything the judges say and you want to please them. Thatís a very funny question because when I hear him say that I just want to say, ďWhat song?Ē But itís really the songs that you feel comfortable with. And you have to; those are the songs you have to do.
Q: Did you ever wish that the judges would pick the songs for you instead of the other way around considering some of the comments theyíve starting making about that wasnít such a good song?
A: I guess in that case youíd get better comments form the judges, but I donít know, I donít think Iíd feel as comfortable performing that.
Q: Is it true that the performances sound different in the theater and on a TV playback? When you watched your performances on the playback, what did you think?
A: I think itís not the difference in sound or anything. I think itís just the hype of being in the theater and the big audience and everything, it just really hypes you up. But I watched my performance back that night and to be honest I was really, really happy with it.
Q: So Simon started out saying that you were the best 16-year old ever that he had seen sing. And then he kind of turned cold to you even when you nailed it. What do you think kind of changed his mind? What do you think that thing was?
A: To be honest I really, really donít know. All I could do was go out and do my best every week and thatís what I tried to do. I guess itís just his opinion; I really donít know.
Q: All right. And then there are a lot of nicknames this seasonóMandisa was Mandiva and Kevin is Chicken Little. What would you have liked your nickname to be? Do you think that that little extra attention helps win the audience over?
A: My fan club was The Mighty Pucks because Iím from Anaheim and the Ducks are from Anaheim. So I guess the Mighty Puck.
Q: But do you think that if the judges had kind of like clung onto that that it would have helped you a little bit more?
A: Who know. Who knows?
Q: Well some might say that doing the Kelly Clarkson song probably contributed to your elimination because itís so recent and people tend to compare. So would you advise the remaining Idols against attempting a song previously recorded by an Idol winner?
A: I really wouldnít say that because the song choice, it was the songs of the 21st Century, so everyone was doing songs that people knew and everything like that. But if thatís the song that youíre feeling just go for it.
Q: Did it ever cross your mind that some votes may have been split between yourself and Paris because you girls are the same age and quite similar? Has that ever crossed your mind?
A: Not really. Weíre different in a lot of ways so that didnít really cross my mind. There are votes being split every which way.
Q: Do you think the scales might have tipped towards Paris because she is more outgoing and youíre very sweet? So whatís you take on that?
A: I donít know. Itís really up to America and what America likes.
Q: We heard that you guys go out to dinner after the vote off show. Is that true?
Q: So what was that like for you when they took you out to dinner?
A: It was just really great just being with everybody and talking about how much weíre going to miss each other over these few weeks. But as soon as the tour starts weíre going to be together again for a while. So I was like, ďYou guys are going to get sick of me when I get back.Ē
Q: How do people treat you differently now that youíd been featured on the show?
A: I donít get out much, to be honest, and I havenít been out much since Iíve been on the show. Iím sure itís going to be really different once I get back to school next week. Just from what Iíve noticed walking outside, itís people pointing and coming to ask for autographs, and thatís always cool. Iím not sure how the people I really know, know well are going to react.
Q: And the second part. I guess hereís your chance, so to speak, now youíre off the show. Do you want to tee off or vent, express your frustrations about any of the judges, your fellow contestants or even the call-in voters?
A: Oh, not at all. I just appreciate everyone that did vote. And the contestants, weíre like one family. You wouldnít think it was a competition the way we act towards each other; weíre just like brother and sisters. And the judges have been wonderful, so I canít complain.
Q: Well I wanted to ask you when you were standing there in the bottom two with Katharine, did it hurt your feelings that the judgesí comments seemed to be directed mostly towards Katharine? Like when Ryan Seacrest also he said, ďDo you have any advice for these two? Especially Katharine?Ē
A: Oh no, not at all. It was her first time in the bottom, so I wasnít surprised at all. It didnít hurt my feelings, no. I donít sweat the small stuff.
Q: You seem to be so much more reserved than some of the other contestants. Do you feel like we saw the real Lisa on the show?
A: Definitely. Seriously, this is how I am all the time. Even going out with my friends, Iím always the one like, ďHey guys.Ē Iím always smiling and optimistic. Itís pretty much just how I am.
Q: Now that youíre done with the competition Iím wondering who you think will win and who you might be voting for?
A: I am not picking up that phone at all because I would have no clue who to vote for. Everyone is just so great at what they do, Iím just glad Iím not the one that has to decide who is going to win because I wouldnít be able to do it.
Q: The second part is, you went first this week. Is that tough for you? Do nerves play a part in going first and having to be the first one up there on the stage?
A: As soon as I found out I was going first I was like, ďOh, thatís tough.Ē But I just went out there and I had to realize that I would be doing it the same way just a little later in the show. I had to bring it.
Q: How do they determine who goes first?
A: I donít know. Itís just random.
Q: It is no question that you obviously can sing and that you are talented. In fact I think it was quite obvious that you were one of the judgeís favorites. But yesterday they were kind of disappointed in your performance, judging on their comments. What do you think went wrong?
A: Honestly I donít think anything went wrong. That was their opinion and I totally respected that, but I watched my performance back and I was really, really happy with it.
Q: What is the next step for you? I read from one of your interviews that you are planning to continue with college. Did you plan on taking a particular major already?
A: No, no particular major. I definitely want to go to college and I want to continue my singing career. Who knows; maybe get into some TV and movie stuff. Who knows, you know?
Q: I wanted to find out from you with this whole experience can you kind of tell us a couple of your best memories?
A: Definitely that first day in Denver walking into the room and seeing the judges. That was one of the biggest memories that I have. And just having Simon say that I was one of the best 16-year olds on the show, that just meant so much to me. Just all the memories of the contestants and just hanging out. But definitely I would have to say being out on stage and just being watched my millions of people just gives me the greatest feeling.
Q: I think a lot of people were really shocked with you being so young how well you handled the pressure. Did it go through your mind that like 35 million people are watching when you got on stage? How did you cope with that?
A: As soon as you go out on stage your heart kind of sinks and then you know that all those people are watching. Although I get some nerves throughout my body, itís a good feeling. Itís kind of weird to explain; itís a good feeling though.
Q: Being so young, were you prepared if you had won this?
A: Oh, yes. Definitely. I definitely take everything in stride and I was ready for whatever was going to come.
Q: Because one of the things a lot of people who watch this show do on results night is they try and guess from the seating order, from the bottom three. Do you guys do the same thing?
A: Throughout the whole day we are wondering, ďWhat is it going to be? What is it going to be?Ē Nobody actually says anything about it, but when youíre sitting up there youíre definitely wondering, ďOh, who am I sitting next to?Ē But that doesnít really do anything. It really doesnít, it just makes you more nervous. So I try not to do that.
Q: When do you find out the seating order or the seating arrangements?
A: Right before we go out.
Q: Afterwards do you get any sort of like debriefing or something like on how to handle everything youíre going to be dealing with now that youíre kind of the Idol cocoon?
A: Kind of. Iíve been prepping for it as long as Iíve been an Idol.
Q: How is your mom doing?
A: Sheís great, actually.
Q: When do they tell you the theme for the next week and how much time do you have to select your song?
A: Pretty much as soon as we finish that week weíre already getting ready for the next week.
Q: You already know the theme by Wednesday night for the next week?
Q: And how much time do they give you? Do you have to have a definitive deadline when you say you have to have the song committed by then?
A: No, not really.
Q: When did you usually have a decision made?
A: The next few days after the performance.
Q: Usually by Friday or Saturday you were pretty much set on what song you were going to sing?
Q: So you never had a problem. It sounded like you were good with prep; itís not a big deal prepping for the song, right?
A: No, no, no.
Q: It sounds like you know a lot of songs in your head already, right?
Q: After Simon told you that you were the best 16-year old theyíd ever seen, did you feel a lot of pressure going in?
A: My first inkling was, ďOh my gosh, thank you so much.Ē But then I definitely knew there were going to be expectations and everything, but thatís regardless. If he said it or not, I would have expectations for myself. Iím probably my biggest critic.
Q: And I noticed that you seem to have a good friendship with Paris. So there was no rivalry between the two of you being the two young ones?
A: Oh, not at all. Not at all.
Q: On Tuesday night the judges came back with you and with so many singers about song choice. Do you as singers, you and the group, is that clear what they are looking for or is that a confusing thingó
A: Not really.
Q: Not really clear?
A: Not really clear. We were all like, ďOkay, what does that mean?í But you canít please everybody and I just try to go out and do what makes me feel good. Thatís all you can really do.
Q: Does somebody give you advice on picking songs in advance?
A: No, itís pretty much up to you.
Q: Oh, okay. Do they give you a list or do youó
A: You kind of give your suggestions and you try to clear it and itís just that process.
Q: But sometimes they tell people, ďWell, thatís not daring enough.Ē Then theyíll say, ďOh, thatís too far. Too much of a reach for you,Ē which means itís too daring and it seems like you kind of get caught in the middle sometimes.
A: Yes. There are so many voices telling you, ďDo this. Do this.Ē There is a lot of that, but you just have to do what youíre comfortable with.
Q: And you were happy with your choices overall throughout the competition?
Q: Do you think song choice is as important as the judges seem to make it sound?
A: Oh yes. There was a question saying do you think that if the judges picked your song that would be better. Their comments would be better because they picked the songs, but would you feel as comfortable singing it? Iím not sure about that.
Q: What were the other songs you considered before choosing Because of You?
A: There was a Gavin Degras song and I was just thinking of that. It was just a list of songs and I just came right back to Because of You.
Q: Was there a reason to that?
A: I just wanted to do a really big, belty song, and thatís the one I wanted to do.
Q: Throughout the competition what is the best piece of advice you have received?
A: Just stay true to who you are, because there are going to be so many people saying you should be this or do this, and you just canít listen to everybody.
Q: It must be difficult going into the competition this week after being in the bottom three for the past two weeks. Was there added pressure this week especially?
A: No. No more than the first time I went out there. Itís just I want to be happy with my performance at the end of the day, and I really was.
Q: And the last question is being the youngest in the competition, did you think that it worked against you?
A: Not at all. I donít think age really plays a factor in it. Itís just what America votes for and thatís it.
Q: So now that youíre getting back to kind of some normalcy in your life, are you going to go to prom? I hear you have a boyfriend.
A: Yes, Iím going to go.
Q: Very nice. Do you think youíre going to sing at the prom or have you picked out a dress yet or anything?
A: Oh, not at all. I havenít had time to do all that.
Q: Lastly, what do you think is coming up for you in the future? What can we expect from you?
A: Iím just going to continue singing and hopefully get into TV and movies and stuff like that. I just want to try everything out. The tour is this summer.
Q: Youíre such a pro at joining all the talent and singing competitions since you were a kid. Youíre only 16; do you consider actually joining American Idol again?
A: After you make the top 24 you canít do it again.
Q: Oh, I see. So do you feel like Simon has a thing against those who actually did show biz for quite a long time? Because he always like to call Paris like a doll. But the thing is, both of you canít help being experienced, so how do you feel about those kind of comments?
A: I think that experience is a good thing so I donít take it as a negative.
Q: You are so mature for your age. How did you keep your cool being in the bottom three so many times whereas people like Ace, Bucky and Katherine, they always looked like they were going to throw up and you were just smiling through it. So how did you manage to pull that off?
A: Honestly I really donít know. I thought there was no reason to be sad. Maybe a little disappointed, but no reason to be sad because I was so proud of how far Iíve come and not very many people can say they made the top ten of American Idol.
Q: Lisa, whatís the best part and also the worst part of being on American Idol?
A: The best part is being able just to perform and in front of so many people. Itís such an opportunity. As I said on the show, I was at home last year on my couch watching this show and now I was on it and seen by millions of people. So thatís definitely the up side.
I guess the downside is it definitely takes you away from whatever you were doing at the time, but that is no way on the same level.
Q: It kind of interrupts your life but well worth the interruption.
Q: And finally, what would be your advice for future American Idol contestants or want to be contestants?
A: Donít think that, ďOh, I canít do it,Ē or anything like that. Just go for it. Because really you have nothing to lose. Thatís the way I looked at it. Iím at a better place than I was before I did American Idol, so I canít complain.
Q: Letís do a Lisa can have whatever she wants question. Pretend Iím Clive or the producer of the Idol tour thatís coming up. You can pick any song you want to sing on the tour and on the CD thatís coming upódonít have to be the same song. Pick some songs.
A: That is tough. You know, I really donít know. Iíd probably do the first song that I performed on American Idol; I did I Am Changing. I love that song and I love performing it, so that would definitely be one of them.
Q: Now would that be CD our on the tour?
A: Oh, either, both.
Q: Okay. Again, this is a Lisa gets whatever she wants. Say I walked up to you right now, I have lots of money and I think youíre fabulous and I say, ďWe can do any project you want. It can be a musical like Lion King, it can be a record deal, it can be a reality show based on you.Ē Tell me what you would like to have.
A: A record deal. Definitely, definitely. Thatís what Iíve wanted since I was little.
Q: You had some really cute outfits throughout the competition. It seemed like you had a lot of fun picking it out. Iím wondering if you could talk about that process a little bit? If you worked with a stylist, like with your stylist in your regular life?
A: You know, itís kind of funny. My style is exactly the style that I had on the show. I didnít change at all. Iím totally about the bright colors and the skinny leg jeans and the pumps; Iím totally like that. The stylist just helped me find things that were just really cute and that fit me well. It was so much fun.
Q: Do you guys share a stylist or how does that work on the show?
A: Yes, there are about two on the show and they take us out all on our own.
Q: And do you have any closing remarks, Lisa?
A: No, I just want to say thank you to everybody.
Big thanks to FOX for granting us access to the contestants this season. Good luck, Lisa!