AI6: Interview with Alaina Alexander: A Tearful Goodbye
Here is a copy of the transcripts from the Alaina Alexander interview. She was very nice and after listening to the interview I was disappointed that she was no longer on the show. I wish her the best of luck with her singing career.
I was wondering if you had any thoughts on why you were eliminated and maybe if it had something to do with particularly the song choices, singing Dixie Chicks and that one song ďNot Ready to Make NiceĒ, considering how polarizing they are in the country.
A. Alexander: Yes, Iíve thought about it. I hope itís not because of that song, because I really, truly believe the Dixie Chicks are so talented, and theyíre so amazing. I felt like I could just deliver that song and connect with it. I was using the emotion of me in that competition and not ready to make nice to the judges, and Iím going to stand my ground and prove myself. It had nothing political behind it whatsoever, and I hope that that didnít hurt me in a way. I donít know what America thinks. There are 30 million viewers. I really hope thatís not the reason why, because thatís pretty upsetting.
If you could do it over again, would you sing a different song?
A. Alexander: You know, if I could do it over again, I would be more educated in song choice for me. A big part of the competition is song choice, and Iíve never sung another artistís song. Iíve always written and played my guitar and just sang my own stuff. So going into the competition, it was kind of hard for me. The judges twice just dogged me on my song choice, and I would have just had my eyes open a little bit wider, and just really knew what was going to be better for me.
A couple of the contestants this week really struggled for the second time in a row and still made it through. Do you think things like cuteness and likability, how much of some of those things are factors?
A. Alexander: I always try to be myself, and I donít know if that got me this far. I hope it did. I think it just comes down to now, it was maybe just the song choice. America is so unpredictable. They like who they like, and I tried my best. Because cuteness, everybody is cute, and they made it so far, so I donít know. I donít know what it comes down to. Itís so unpredictable.
You know the show and being in the national spotlight, were you ever nervous that pictures of you might surface that are embarrassing?
A. Alexander: No. Going into it, you talk and let them know everything, really. You let American Idol know. If anything comes up, they can get your back. Theyíre here to protect us as we are to help them out. So I wasnít really afraid of it. Itís unfortunate when that sort of thing happens, but you have to just keep on going and keep doing what youíre here to do, and thatís just to entertain and sing.
Did that news that happened this week trickle down into you guys?
A. Alexander: I donít really pay attention to any of the blogs, or I try not to look on the Internet, or read the newspaper, just so I can stay focused. Yes, you hear people over-talking about certain things. But I just tried to keep out of it, because I really just wanted to focus on doing good in the performance.
You know, Iíve watched this show now, weíre in our sixth season. Every time someone gets eliminated and they have to sing, I think inside, I feel like you did on TV last night. How hard is that?
A. Alexander: Iím glad you feel me here. I havenít seen it back yet, so Iím a little nervous, but it was really hard. I kept telling myself, ďGosh, how am I going to get through this song if I get kicked off? How am I going to get through this song?Ē Repeating it over and over, but I kind of knew it was my time when I was sitting up on the front row with the rest of the girls, because I thought if one person is going to go, it has to be me. So I mentally prepared myself, and I felt okay. I truly felt okay until I think I might have looked at someone, and they might have been crying, and I think it just triggered. It was all downhill from there, but I couldnít hide it. I had to just roll with it.
Then I brought the girls down and they made me feel so much better with their hugs and their love. I turned around and I kind of tried to finish it.
You did a very admirable job. I always wonder how people do get through it without breaking down, because I wouldnít be able to hold it together.
A. Alexander: I admire everyone that has gone so far, and they just sing it. I wish I could do that, but Iím pretty sensitive and I wear my heart on my sleeve. So if Iím feeling a certain way, I definitely let you know. It was sad. It was sad to say goodbye. Iím missing my friends and Iím missing that life of doing music every day, so it was a shocker.
Alaina, this is kind of an odd year. Youíre a good singer, but this year, all of a sudden, thereís all these incredible voices, just these boom-boom voices out there. What was it like for you the first time youíre sitting there and youíre ready and youíre singing, and all of a sudden, Melinda or Lakisha or somebody just uncorks one like that?
A. Alexander: I look up to them. I think they are amazing. But for me, itís like what it comes down to as a performer, you just want to be the best you can be. I feel like weíre completely different. For me, I thought that would give me a little edge. Iím not a powerhouse singer. I have a different style, and you canít compare yourself to other people. Youíre trying to be better than you were last week in this competition.
A quick follow-up to someone elseís question, shows like Nashville Star actually have a week when you do your own songs that you wrote. Do you think they should have that, and do they outright bar it? In other words, if you had insisted you were going to do an Alaina Alexander song, would they have let you do it?
A. Alexander: You know, Nigel told me these first few performances you can sing whatever you want if you can get it cleared. So, yes, if I decided and said I want to do my own song, they would have totally let me. I thought my song choice was going to be good enough that I would be able to make it through. I was thinking to bringing me back next week and doing my own song, but I didnít have the chance.
Is that a percent of yours, looking ahead that, ďOh, if I get voted off, I have to sing, Iím not going to be able to get through it.Ē
A. Alexander: Yes. It kept going through my mind and I was like, ďOkay, if itís my time to go, I have to sing, and I composed myself.Ē I was okay until I think the music started and something just triggered and I was like crap, and I just had to let it go. But itís me. Itís me and I tried my best.
Plus, it was so tough looking at the clip where Simon was describing your performance as that was really great. Itís still bittersweet.
A. Alexander: Itís hard because they got down on the live performances. They beat me down, but it only made me try to be better. Do you know what I mean? I wasnít too crushed. It made me better myself.
You said you yourself insulated yourself from the whole on-line goings on and the headlines this week. Were you able to see how it was affecting Antonella?
A. Alexander: You know, Antonella is a trooper. Sheís strong and sheís going to be just fine. Everything thatís going on, sheís just fine, so she pulled through.
I was just wondering since you do write your own music, what are you going to be doing, now that American Idol is over for you?
A. Alexander: Iíve learned so much through this whole process, so I really want to just take in everything Iíve learned and just put myself out there. And with the contacts Iíve made, I want to do music. I want to do the entertainment business. I love being creative. I love the fast pace. I love being in the public eye. It feels natural to me, so I want to keep doing it, so weíll see what happens. I think if you put yourself out there and try your best, something good is going to come.
Do you have any concrete plans, or is it just kind of like a dream right now? Like Nick was just saying that heís just hoping that somebody comes up to him and asks him if he wants to have a record. For you, are you really going to pursue it?
A. Alexander: No, Iím definitely pursuing it. Iím not waiting for anybody. I got a couple of phone numbers. Iím going to do as much press as I can, and just put the word out there and just hustle, because you have to.
My question is, just following along with what the last one was just saying, when you first auditioned, you had said this is a make it or break it deal for you in the music industry; like this is your last shot. What was making you think that way at that point in time? Do you still feel that same way now?
A. Alexander: No, I donít feel that way at all anymore. In the beginning, itís like you get to a place in your life, youíre trying really hard to make it in the industry for six years. Bills are getting backed up, rent is getting harder to pay. My waitressing job isnít cutting it anymore, being a musician on the side, and it just wasnít working. So I was like I have to really maybe go to school and get a focus to where Iím going to be able to have another career, so I can survive and get what I want in life, other than being creative and doing music. I decided I was going to give up on it and then tried out for the Idol thing, and, even though I didnít win, I got the top 20, top ten girls, and Iím so hungry. Itís rekindled everything I felt about music.
Even right now, you had said before, you were home playing your guitar, playing your own music. What was it like to be thrown up on stage in front of millions of people and having to sing this music that wasnít yours? This exposure, what was it like to have such big exposure right away?
A. Alexander: Itís crazy, because I havenít paid attention to any of the news, magazines, or the blogs, so it doesnít feel real yet. When youíre there and youíre on stage, and you have all the cameras and the lights are flashing, you have to look in certain ones. You have to perform. Itís amazing, but itís so quick, so it really hasnít set in that 30 million people were watching me every week. And I think by that mindset, itís made it easier for me to be myself, because Iím not worried about everyone watching. To me itís just all my friends and the production people that are watching, so I feel comfortable around them. So it really hasnít set in that everyone has seen me cry.
I was wondering for you, what were some of the biggest challenges that you faced through the whole process?
A. Alexander: The biggest challenge is definitely, itís hard the first time taking criticism from the judges. Even though you think you can prepare yourself. It still gets under your skin a little bit, but you just take it as criticism, and you just try to get better.
That was hard until you turned it around to make it positive. And then song choice, I was struggling picking a song, and it really comes down to picking the right song thatís going to best describe you. I tried my best, and I really thought that I had gotten it, but I can admit that I had a hard time.
Do you have any regrets about anything?
A. Alexander: Not at all. No. I love this process. I love American Idol. Iím still in shock that I made it this far, but I wouldnít take anything back.
I wanted to ask what youíre missing most about American Idol.
A. Alexander: What am I going to miss the most?
A. Alexander: Iím going to miss the fast pace. Itís like we get a call time in the morning, say itís 8:00 in the morning. We have to go do interviews. We have to go to rehearsal. We have to go pick a song. Thereís always something to do, and youíre doing what you love, which is music. So Iím really going to miss that every day, but Iím just going to try to continue to do it on my own. Itís my turn to step out and really pull through on my own now.
Do you think that may have been a factor in you get getting stressed and you not getting enough sleep, that you were able to bring it last night and perform and sing?
A. Alexander: No, itís not that at all. Itís just that I couldnít finish my song last night, because I was truly overwhelmed with the fact that Iím not going to see these people anymore. From the contestants, from the producers, all these people that are so amazing and so helpful. I was going to be taken away from it, and thatís overwhelming and sad, so thatís why it was a hard time, because theyíre really great people.
Thank you, first off, for one of the realist performances at the end of that show. Even though you cried a bit, itís the first time weíve seen someone really do that, and Iím sure thatís how everybody feels, so kudos to that.
A. Alexander: Thank you. Yes, someone told me today that out of all the six years of Idol history, that was the first time someone broke down as bad. I was like, ďOh, my gosh.Ē
My question was Iím just wondering who were you looking forward to working with the most of all of the guest people who are going to be coming on? Was it J Lo, or who?
A. Alexander: You know, I was really looking forward to Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani. Theyíve basically built their whole entire corporation, basically they are from the beginning to end, and I just admire that so much.
Is that part of your plan?
A. Alexander: Oh, yes. Itís just the beginning. Even though Iím not on American Idol anymore, Iíve learned so much, so I just really want to use that to my advantage and just go and get my fingers wet with everything, or my feet wet. Is that what they say?
People talk about making friends on the show, but how much can you really bond with others in such a short time and when youíre so busy?
A. Alexander: Because what people donít understand is, we are with each other every single day, and we donít do things in groups, you do things individually. You do interviews individually. You go to rehearsals individually. So in that time when weíre all together in three rooms, hanging out, waiting for everyone to have their own turn to do things, itís kind of like being in a fraternity, or sorority house where you guys are all doing a common thing. You all have a common goal, and youíre just waiting around and getting to know each other while youíre pursuing it.
Yes, but youíre all competitors. For somebody to do well, somebody else has to go ultimately.
A. Alexander: Weíre competing against ourselves. This competition, everyone is completely different. So itís really that youíre competing against yourself, how good you can be as an artist and performer each week, not can I be as good as Melinda. No, because sheís completely different than me or Sundance, so itís like you really have to just better yourself each week. And then by that, you can get to know people for who they are and bond with the other contestants that are there.
Okay. Since youíre together so much, when there was a controversy like the Antonella situations, did people respond to her? Did they ignore it? Did they show support?
Moderator: She is not going to answer questions about Antonella, sorry.
She did earlier.
Moderator: I know. You know, I just donít think she should answer anymore.
Itís how the group responded.
Moderator: I know. Weíre going to move on to the next question. I apologize.
It looks, from watching from home, like Ryan Seacrest made a joke about Kelly Picklerís boobs right before she started singing. And I was wondering if you thought that was the case, and if, what was your reaction to that?
A. Alexander: You know, this is the most boring answer ever, but I havenít seen it. I was backstage. I was scared because I got pulled out. Iím sorry.
Some of the other contestants had popular blogs that they were doing before they got on the show, and then they shut them down. Do you think that you guys should be allowed to be able to blog about your experiences?
A. Alexander: You know, I just think you need to be focused. And when youíre worrying about the blogs and this and that, even though, yes, itís cool to share your experience. But I understand the point where they really just want us to focus on this experience, because itís only going to happen once. So itís better to just keep more grounded and what youíre going to do every week then to be worried about getting everything else out there until the time comes to share it.
One of the big ways that a lot of former American Idol finalists go on to do in their careers is singing ďThe National AnthemĒ, whether it be at really big events or local events, or whatever. Is that something that you have experience doing, and what are your general thoughts about singing ďThe National AnthemĒ?
A. Alexander: Iím so for it. I think itís huge, whether itís at a local, little kid little league game, or itís something big, just to be able to sing for people and to have them appreciate that, itís great.
How tough is that compared to being on Idol?
A. Alexander: Yes, right. Itís like anything to just keep busy and to have people appreciate you is great. American Idol is hard, but I think I can sing ďThe National AnthemĒ any day.
Thank you to FOX for allowing us to participate in this media call.