On Friday, I had the opportunity to participate in a media call with the most recent Idol castoffs. They had some interesting insight to share about the show and what their future plans are. I wish them all the best of luck in the future.
Weíre unaccustomed at this point in the competition to see so much emotion around these eliminations. Like usually, itís early in the game and people havenít had a chance to really get to know each other. Do you feel like you have bonded a little extra this season?
A. Lushington: We have bonded a lot. Itís like a huge family. Weíre always with each 24/7. We see each other all the time. We rehearse with each other. Itís a lot of fun. Weíve become really good friends.
How do you balance the competitive aspect thatís always obviously there with just being kids, hanging out with kids?
Alexandrea: Sometimes we forget that weíre actually on the show until it gets to the actual live show when we perform. But we try really hard to compete with not everybody else, but with just ourselves, try to stay focused on what weíre going to do to better ourselves in the competition.
Why was David Archuleta still upset? He seemed like especially emotional and you went and hugged him afterwards. What was the situation there?
Alexandrea: David and I, weíve known each other for a long now. We were actually in the competition with each other four years ago.
Yes, with Star Search.
Alexandrea: And to see each other again during American Idol was cool, kind of a coincidence as well and weíve become really close friends throughout this whole experience.
He seemed more upset than you. What was that about?
Alexandrea: I donít know. I probably wouldíve been the same way if he would have left, but it was kind of weird because I never have seen him that emotional before. Itís always sad to see somebody that youíre close to leave.
What has been the high point for you during this competition, if you could pin it down to one moment?
Alexandrea: Just being able to perform in front of 30 million people is good enough for me, working with the band and doing what I love to do. It was just so fun and being able to arrange and show musicianship throughout the length of the show.
How did you find the judges? Was Simon your favorite?
Alexandrea: Simon has always been my favorite. From when I was ten when I first started watching the show, Iíve always been a fan of his. And now having more respect for him because even though they werenít the greatest opinions, he still gave me constructive criticism, which allowed me to get better and to stay focused. I have a lot of respect for him with that.
What were some of the more memorable words of advice and support that you got last night?
Alexandrea: Itís kind of clichť, but just for Randy and Paula to tell just to keep going and that I really have a bright future. That this is just the beginning, which it is. I know it is kind of clichť, but still at the same time, itís really very much true. We have a lot of exposure here being on the show. It can only get better from here.
Do you have anything to say to Simon or the other judges?
Alexandrea: I just thank them for their constructive criticism and giving me a lot of good advice and helping me grow up in this experience.
Were you were surprised by your elimination last night. You looked a little surprised.
Alexandrea: I was kind of surprised. A lot of people were surprised. I couldnít help but hear a bunch of, ďWhat, what, no,Ē in the background behind me with all of the girls. It is what it is and I enjoyed every minute of it. I donít regret anything. A lot of people were shocked, but thatís just how the dice were rolled. I know that Iím going to benefit from this in the future.
Do you regret the song you chose? Do you wish you had sung it differently?
Alexandrea: Oh no, of course not. You canít have any regrets. You have to stay confident in yourself. I did my best and thatís all that matters. I know that I could have done better and I know that I am capable of better. I know that one of the judgesí favorites was, gave me a slight piece of motivation. I donít regret anything.
So back to David Archuleta and just the way he was really balling when you were eliminated, you mentioned that you guys bonded. What are your personal thoughts on him? What do you think his appeal is?
Alexandrea: His appeal of what, me leaving?
Yes, or just in general with the audience because just every time, he seems to have more and more fans out there.
Alexandrea: Itís the girls, trust me. I remember telling him from the beginning, ďYouíre going to be a huge chick magnet.Ē I guess as far as me leaving, I guess because of our friendship and us getting used to each other and not being able to see each other, separated from each other, but he is a phenomenal singer. Heís going to do great and I just know it.
There are also Internet reports surfacing right now thatís thereís a lot of feuding going on between the contestants. Any comments on that?
Alexandrea: If there is, I wouldnít know, because I basically got along with everybody. I try to stay away from negativity and everybody does. If there is any kind of feuding between anyone, itís not anywhere near me because I basically try to be respectful and nice and friendly to everyone there. I was and we were just one, big family.
You seemed really confident and calm on stage most of the time. Is there any point that you were really, really nervous? What did you do to calm your nerves?
Alexandrea: Iím only nervous during elimination rounds, because nobody likes those days. I donít like not knowing anything about what is going to happen for anyone in the competition. Thatís when I was the most nervous, the most anxious, I guess. I try to think positive and stay calm while I sat there with everyone.
Some of other girls mentioned that they really enjoyed getting to dress up and have makeup and everything like that during the show. Was that a perk for you also?
Alexandrea: It was fun. I guess I was always a tomboy and wasnít really necessarily into makeup and hair and all of that. But being able to have my own style and have my own individual style, being like the only tomboy visually out, it was kind of cool.
Why do you think you went home and do you think that there was someone else who shouldíve gone home instead of you, or someone who went home and shouldnít have gone home so soon?
Alexandrea: You know, we may have our disagreements, but you canít argue with the public. I because this happened, it was supposed to happen, so I know that Iím going to benefit from it all. Itís going to get even better. I got a lot of exposure here and I donít want to go home. The fact that I have to, it will keep me grounded, I know for sure.
Do you have any plans for the future?
Alexandrea: Just continue doing my music, writing. Iíve always been writing, composing new songs and performing, just trying to continue with my goals. I pretty much have my life mapped out the way I want it to go.
Iím always curious about how much of the songs of the older era that you guys actually know because youíre very young. You werenít anywhere near born in the Ď60ís and Ď70ís. Were you familiar with any of those songs before you did them?
Alexandrea: My parents made sure that I was well rounded, so singing songs from the Ď60ís and Ď70ís werenít necessarily unfamiliar to me at all. They wanted to make sure that I had a diversity in my music. Singing in the í60ís and Ď70ís was fun and it wasnít uncomfortable at all. I was familiar with the sound.
Some songs I may not have known, but there were a lot of songs that I did know. For example, a Chicago song, I knew who Chicago was, but I just didnít know that song they did, If You Leave Me Now. I never heard of that one, but I knew them as artists and their other songs and their performances that they had done.
Do you think that generally that having to do older songs, is it hard for people for you to connect with the song thatís not only written in a different era, but something that you are not as familiar with?
Alexandrea: No, music is music to me. When youíre picking songs, it shouldnít be that hard. It should be the one that you feel is you, like you know when a song is right for you.
I was wondering what kind of album you would like to record in the future.
Alexandrea: In the future, Iíd like to have my own band and hopefully record a solo pop, rock type of album within the means of ÖAcosta, Alicia Keys and John Meir. I would like to venture into that nice, live sound and like, real musicianship.
Iím going to go back to David again because I thought it was cute last night. What was it like when you saw him? Did you first, when in time in Hollywood and figured and that is when you found out he was in the competition? What was that like beingó?
Alexandrea: It was so funny because we were getting picked up from the airport and he was sitting next to us. My dad said, ďIsnít he that kid that was on Star Search with you? What was his name, David?Ē I looked over and I said, ďI donít know,Ē because he looked so different. My father asked him and he was like, ďDo you remember her and she was on there with you? She sang My Funny Valentine. He said, ďOh my God!Ē
It was from then on, we were on the shuttle from the airport and from then on, weíve just become really close. Weíre really good friends and his dad and my dad always talk, because we were always together. Because of us being minors, we were always in school. We ate lunch with each other. We had breakfast with each other. Our dads hang out and talk with each other all the time. We will make jokes about, talking about how our dads were like Laurel and Hardy.
I just wondering if you felt that the competition was fair this year because there were a couple of people who had previous recording contracts already.
Alexandrea: Well, I just donít understand why people make a big deal about it because itís kind of like weíre still, to put it in shorter terms, American Idol has been on this long, itís like, itís going to be hard to find real, real amateurs nowadays. You canít blame them for trying to venture out and try to catapult their career in some other terms. They didnít break any rules. Theyíre not in a contract now, which is the rule. Thatís basically all that counts. I donít know.
What would you like to say to people who are a fan of you while you were on the show?
Alexandrea: Wow, thatís cool. Just thanks for their support and thanks for being fans of me. Hopefully, one day they will see me, another side of me, see me perform and hear some of my own songs, see me in another light besides American Idol.
You were very emotional last night. Now that youíve had some time to put it into perspective, how are you feeling this morning?
Alaina: Thatís a really good way to put it. Last night, I had so many emotions. I had so many thoughts going on. Now the next day, I can really look at it and itís like, I can take so much away from this because how many people get to say that they were the top ten girls in America? So itís like a blessing. Last night, I was just so emotional because it was just kind of surprising. Itís better now.
What are you planning to do next? You have such a pretty voice.
Alaina: Oh, thank you. Iím definitely, definitely going to keep singing. I think that this definitely gave us a lot of exposure. People actually know who we are now, so hopefully, thereís going to be a ton of opportunities come up. Iím open for anything. Iím really excited to see what happens.
I loved your video last night. It was really cute how you were talking about your habit about how you didnít like your food touching. I wanted to ask you, did you find anyone else on Idol that was exactly the same way as you in that respect? Did catering accommodate, so that you wouldnít freak out?
Alaina: I actually didnít. Itís really funny because on the video, I look like really OCD about it, but itís really not that bad. Itís just like a little pet peeve. It kind of bugs me, but I actually didnít meet anyone else. I had a lot of people say, ďYou know, I have a friend who doesnít like all their food touching.Ē So itís good to know Iím not the only one.
Yes, what was the best piece of advice that you received while you were on the show, either from a fellow contestant or one of the judges?
Alaina: I think the contestants were really encouraging. We were all really encouraging to each other. Before each performance, we just leaned over and we were just like, ďJust go out there; forget everything youíre thinking right and just go out there and perform the song.Ē Because you start thinking about a ton of stuff, like what are they going to say, how am I going to look, you just have to go out there with a clear mind and perform the heck out of your song.
I know you were down, it was down to the wire with you and Kady, who is actually from here from Houston. I talked to her last week. Were you guys friends? She looked like she was really shocked and almost as upset as you were for a minute there.
Alaina: Yes, we were really good friends. We had hung out a lot through this whole thing, so it was really sad that it came down to me and her. She was actually really shocked. She told me that she thought that she was going to be the one going home. I kept telling her all day, ďYou need to stay really positive, because itís really bad to be down on yourself.Ē It was kind of ironic when it came down to me and her. Iím really happy for her. She has a great voice.
Just quickly, if she does make it to the top 12, as a singer yourself, what kind of advice would you give her?
Alaina: I was just saying like, since thereís so much talent this year, I would definitely say that itís going to be based on a week-to-week performance. Each night, America votes on the performance that they see that night. So I would have to say that each performance, no matter whatís going on, you have to just go out there, forget everything and just go out and perform your song without any regrets or anything.
Is it difficult for you as a younger person to connect when youíre doing a lot of the retro songs?
Alaina: Yes, it definitely is. I was just saying earlier in one of my interviews, itís just like, since a lot of the songs were classics, just because theyíre classics doesnít mean that theyíre a good vocal song for you to do that might show off your vocals. And so, it was definitely hard to portray the song with emotion and stuff when Iíd never really heard them before. So I was really looking forward to the í90ís if I would have stayed, but.
The song that you sang, are you happy with the song that you chose, though?
Alaina: Yes, Iím really happy with it. I really loved Grease. Itís like my favorite movie, so Iím really glad that I sang the song. I enjoyed it and so if I would have sung another song, I would have had as much fun, so Iím glad that I picked it.
Can you maybe comment a little bit on how it is that everyone gets along, maybe who was your roommate? Was it fun while you were there?
Alaina: It was so much fun. The minors, they have to stay with their parents, so she was my roommate while I was there with my mom. It was so much fun. I think what America doesnít understand sometimes is that, it might be a short amount of time, as far as like month-wise, that weíve know each other. But weíre together every single day of the week, every hour of the day, doing the same, exact thing, so we know what each other is going through. I think that plays a big part in how close we get and how we bond and make relationships. It is really hard when we have to leave each other.
Is there ever a moment when some contestants donít necessarily get along?
Alaina: Iíve never seen it in other seasons. Watching the TV show, you donít really see it on camera, but being behind the scenes this year, there is definitely is notóeveryone is so great to each other. Theyíre really supportive and everyone really just wants the best for each other. We definitely know that itís a competition, but at the same time, everyone is really nice.
Now as a fan of Idol, I was wondering, what surprised you the most when you actually got to go through this yourself?
Alaina: I think itís, you know like when I watched before, I knew that they to put a lot of time into it, but I did not know to what extent. I think that it surprised me on how much rehearsing, how much thought and how much stress goes into actually picking your song, coming up with something thatís really going to impress America. So I think that that would be something that actually surprised me.
In watching the show as a kid, who were the contestants that you looked up to the most and why?
Alaina: I definitely loved Kelly from the very first moment I saw her. I remember a specific performance from her when she sang Stuff Like That There. Itís really weird that I remember all this, that I seriously remember sitting in my living room and she just blew me away. I loved that performance from her.
I also loved, I wasnít really a kid, but a few seasons back, Chris Daughtry, I loved him.
Have you had the chance to meet of any of your idols from Idol?
Alaina: Yes, actually, itís really funny. At our top 24 party, I met Ace Young. I met Justin Greeny, which is great; I loved him, too, John Peter Louis. And then, actually, our hotel where we were staying at, Chris Daughtry was there in the lobby, so I got to shake his hand and stuff. That was awesome.
What was the best advice you received from the judges and who was it from?
Alaina: The best advice I received from the judges, thatís a hard question. Most of the reviews that I got from the judges, they were mostly good, all positive stuff. I think, actually in my first audition when Simon said, ďI donít think youíre as good as you think you are,Ē it really kind of bothered me for the first couple of months because I so didnít want to come off like I was conceited or anything because Iím not. So I guess like, I definitely didnít want come off that way, so I definitely was more aware of like how I portray myself, being a little bit more careful because I donít want people to think that Iím like that.
What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supported you while you were on the show?
Alaina: I would like to say thank you times a million for anyone who supported me and watched the show. It means so much. Iíve had the most amazing experience ever. Iím really glad that they liked my performances and keep watching for everyone.
Obviously, it came as a big shock, I think, to a lot of people that you were voted off. Does that make you feel better or worse?
Alaina: It means a lot to me that people, thatís a compliment. They were shocked, so they didnít think that I was going to go. That definitely makes me feel better about it, but I said this earlier, that only one person doesnít have to go home. I got a lot of exposure and Iím so thankful for that because there are so many artists out there that would just die to have one minute of exposure on television. Iím so thankful that I got a lot of exposure, so hopefully a lot of opportunity will come out of it.
Was that your mom, actually, cheering you on last night?
Alaina: Yes, that was my mom.
It seemed like she took it pretty hard.
Alaina: Yes, she really did. Like during it, I definitely, obviously, everyone saw that I cried a whole lot; but afterwards after an hour or two, I got together. I got my composure, but my mom was still going. She was still shocked and really sad, but today is a lot better since I can look at it in a different way.
I have a fun question for you about Ryan Seacrest, our favorite. This is a hypothetical. When he got home last night after the show, itís a multiple choice, do you think he A) watched the show again practiced saying, ďThis is American Idol,Ē for an hour? B) laughed at himself making fun of Simon from previous episodes; C) paused on close-ups of himself and analyzed his own facial hair; or D) all the above?
Alaina: Thatís really funny. I actually asked him, a lot of the contestants asked him during Hollywood Week, if he watched the shows. He said that he did a couple of times, but he does so many of the shows for seven seasons. I canít imagine him like really, really caring about going home and watching it. If I had to choose any of those, I would probably choose laughing at Simon.
I saw you early on and all the way up until last night as one of the singers that had the most potential, especially since weíre hearing so much about how much experience the other ones have. Did you feel like you were, I guess, in some way kind of robbed of the chance to grow on the show in the coming weeks?
Alaina: You know, I definitely would have loved to have the chance to do a few more weeks. I really, really wanted to get to the top ten, so I could tour this summer. And so, it was really disappointing, but you never know how Americaís votes are going to come out, or some of them are going to react to your performance. Although it was a shock, everyone has to go home except one person. It was great that I had this opportunity and experience in the first place.
I also wanted to ask you about Simonís comment on Wednesday night about your style and your appearance, looked like your grandmother prepared you for the show. How did you react to that and reflecting on it, what do you think about that?
Alaina: You know, what do you say to that? Itís really crazy. I actually loved the dress and I actually wore like those, I donít know if the camera showed them, but they were like really cute orange high heels. I thought that I actually wore with the dress to actually make it younger, so I was really surprised when he had said that. I liked my dress and Iíve had other people say that they liked it, too, so I guess Iím not the only one.
With a day to think over it, how glad are you that you actually did sing that final performance last night?
Alaina: Oh, Iím so glad. You know at the time, I had so many thoughts going through my mind. I had a lot of emotions. At the time, it was like I was saying, ďI canít sing right now,Ē but I knew in the back of my mind that I have to do this. This is the end of my journey and itís going to be a good ending to it.
I think the real factor last night was just like how, how am I going to remember my words right now and how am I going to make it sound good when Iím crying? Iím really glad. I think I would have regretted it if I hadnít have sung.
How important was having the other girls come up and stand there with you at the time?
Alaina: It made me feel so much better. All the girls got really close. We spend every day, every hour of the day together and so it was really great having their support up there with me. Iím going to be cheering them on and I hope I have a lot of opportunities and hopefully you guys will see me again.
What did your son say to you afterwards? I thought that was so cute.
Jason: He called me right after I got off the stage. He was the first person I talked to. He was just kind of quiet and didnít really know what to say. I canít imagine his age, I think he was just really trying, he was just feeling the same things I was feeling. He just really didnít know what to say, but he just said, ďI love you, Dad. Iím proud of you.Ē That meant a lot to me.
Just adorable. How did you feel yourself?
Jason: Disappointed, I was just kind of let down. I think itís just really hard, because just a lot of things were going through my head, song choice-wise. I think of all the judgesí criticism and just felt like the odds were really against me.
So stemming off your son a little bit here, how old is he, actually, and what did he have to say about the mean critiques that Simon, Paula or Randy gave you throughout the competition?
Jason: Heís ten years old. I havenít really talked to him a whole lot about the criticism or anything. I talked to him; weíre just really so busy the day, that the only time that I get free time is late at night, which itís two hours later there. Itís really hard to sit down on the phone. Iíll text him and stuff during the day and just let him know that Iím thinking about him. We havenít really had a chance to really get to sit down.
Thatís what Iím looking forward to now is just being able to have that time to really, just get to hang out and talk about the whole experience because I know that heís been going to school, getting to ride along on the same deal. Itís been exciting for him and itís been exciting for me, too.
Do you think thatís heís going to think, knowing his personality and everything, that maybe Simon was so harsh on you or a little too mean? Or is he a fan of Simon at all?
Jason: If he was, I donít think heís is now. Being a kid, I think you stand up for your parent as any kid would. I hope that he knows that this is a television show and that Simon is playing a part in this television show. Heís kind of has the reputation for being the mean guy, so Iíll make sure that I relay that to him. That itís nothing personal, so.
Watching the show, it made me think last night that the same thing happens over and over. You donít get the screen time and you didnít get the votes. Do you agree?
Jason: You know, thatís been one of big questions. I have to discuss this with my family and friends. They were all really disappointed that America didnít really get a chance to get any kind of background story, interviews, to really get to know me as a person, to really get the opportunity to really get behind me and to be, with Simon the way he put it, to stand out. He complained that I didnít stand out and all I could do was laugh at that moment and just, ďItís out of my hands.Ē I donít want to be sour about it. Iím just kind of disappointed that I felt like I had a lot of offer to the show. I think my fans out there, people who know me, who know my voice would attest to that.
Whatís one thing that weíd be surprised to learn about you? Tell us now that they didnít show us on the show.
Jason: One thing that you may be surprised, I guess I use the fact that I play instruments, Iím self taught. Not that everybody knows that now, anything really, because they really didnít do anything. Just that Iíve been a dedicated singer and performer for ten years. Iíve been at this a very, very long time and I wish that I had gotten more of an opportunity to just show my personality because Iím a nice guy. Iím a very easygoing guy. I think I would have represented everything that American Idol should stand for. Iím the all-American type of guy. I felt like I had a lot to bring to the table and just was disappointed that America didnít get to see that.
What did you learn from your experience on Idol?
Jason: Itís a big, emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. I donít think I was really prepared to deal with all of the stress of it all, especially the criticism, being on national TV like that. I hope that thatís not what Iím remembered for, because I took everything with a grain of salt and just tried to be myself and be content with the fact that I am top 20 out of 102,000 people that auditioned. I think that itís a huge accomplishment.
I just tried to really learn to deal with criticism. I think in the music business, if I really want to be, get a record deal, that Iím going to have to face a lot of that. Iím just really going to have to deal with peopleís opinions and not let that get to me, because I think subconsciously, I was more worried about what the judges were thinking about me and trying to please them, rather than just really trying to focus on the people who were voting out there.
What advice do you have for future contestants?
Jason: Man, just be yourself. If you ever want to audition, I would absolutely encourage everybody out there and anything you do, itís very possible. I, of course, had no idea that I would get as far as I did. Iím very happy that I did. Itís definitely an experience that youíll remember for the rest of your lives.
Just donít go into it thinking youíll never, I donít want to because thatís just ridiculous. You should always, always believe in yourself and just continue to follow your dream if thatís really what you want to do. The opportunities that will come through it are going to be totally worth all the sacrifice and everything. I wouldnít take it back. I would trade it for anything in the world.
On a personal note, some people are wondering if youíre single, youíre married, you have a girlfriend. Do you care to comment?
Jason: I do have a girlfriend. She is waiting very patiently for me to come home to give her a big hug and a kiss. Iím looking forward to that.
What would you like to say to everyone who was a fan and supported you while you were on the show?
Jason: All of my hometown people back in Grand Prairie and Branson also where I have been living the last few years, I would want to say thank you, thank you so much. I had so many people supporting me financially, just contributing with everything. I really love everybody and I just wantóI hope that they all know that I gave it my best shot. I hope that they are all proud of me.
What was it like spending time with the other contestants? Did you work close with any one in particular?
Jason: Yes, itís funny; Michael Johns and I were probably the closest. We became really, really good friends. We were roommates from Hollywood Week, day one. They kind of set everybody up randomly and we were lucky enough that we didnít have to switch rooms or anything. Every time somebody got eliminated through Hollywood Week, youíd have to consolidate rooms and everybody kept switching around. We were lucky that we just got to stay in that same room and really get to know each other.
Our personalities just really clicked. Heís like the funniest guy that Iíve met. He has a great personality. I just was blessed to get to know him. He is a dedicated songwriter and musician and especially a singer. We just really encouraged each other. We always helped each other out with our song choices, giving each other advice and criticism. Gosh, Iím really gong to miss that guy a lot and I hope that he does really well.
So is he the one that youíre rooting for now?
Jason: You know, I canít really, thatís like saying who do you like more, your mom or your dad because if I say Iím going to vote to Michael, then Luke and David Cook and everybody is going to be like, ďWhatís up? Whereís the love?Ē Iím just going, probably just try to watch each week with a total open mind to whoís bringing it that week. Iíll vote accordingly.
Now, it sounds like everyone gets along really great, but is there ever a moment when maybe itís not so great between everyone? It must get kind of tiresome seeing the same people 24/7.
Jason: Oh, yes. I really honestly thought that it was going to more cutthroat, like competition and everybody is off in their own corner or whatever. But it was justóyou could see it on television. Thursday nights are horrible for all of us because weíve just become all so close. I donít think that there is one person in that entire 24 that Iím not going to miss and that I donít have their phone numbers. It was just so sad, that we donít want to say good-bye. So, no, I donít think thereís any of drama or anything going on. I havenít seen it. Personally I havenít experienced any of it.
I thought you were very classy yesterday. I have kind of a silly question about Simon, everybodyís favorite judge on American Idol. Itís a hypothetical multiple choice question. When he went home yesterday after the taping, do you think that he A) spent a few hours picking out his outfit for next weekís Idol; B) talked to Ryan Seacrest for the entire night on the phone; C) toyed with his Paula Abdul voodoo doll; D) all of the above? Itís up to you.
Jason: Iíd say all of the above.
Okay, good to know. Thatís the kind of insight or knowledge that weíreówhy do you say that?
Jason: Well, I think people probably put those choices in there for a reason because they assume thatís the kind of person that he is. I mean, I donít know. Honestly, we really donít get a chance to know them on any kind of a personal level. Itís pretty much business. Just basing that off of what I see on the television this season and prior seasons, itís like, he really does come across as a guy who is there to give his opinion and then heís out.
Thereís been some temper coming from the menís side regarding Simon. I was wondering amongst you guys, how much did Simon really affect you?
Jason: Yes, I know that definitely speaking for myself, that was hard to take because on a public platform like that in front of so many people. Especially during Hollywood Week, I had really great auditions and I got nothing but rave reviews. Even back in Dallas when I originally auditioned, he really seemed to like me. I never actually gotten a no from him before top 24, so it was kind of a night and day difference all of a sudden. I felt like he just wasnít into me anymore.
And so about the other guys, gosh, of course, Robbie had a hard time with trying to prove his legitimacy as a rocker to him. We canít take too much of that to heart. I think thatís the whole thing is that once you get to the top 24, itís not about them anymore. It canít be.
And thatís where my flaw was, was that I tried to make it about trying to please them and you just canít do that. You just have to worry about your fans out there and who is voting.
On the lighter side, youíre a very good looking guy. Have you ever considered acting or modeling?
Jason: Definitely, yes, Iím totally open to acting and modeling. Iíve just neverómusic has always been my strongest passion. Now being at this level of exposure, if somebody wants to offer me some kind of acting, I played Curly in Oklahoma in high school. I was in drama and stuff in high school, so I have a little bit of acting experience. Iíve just never really tried to pursue any of that professionally, but Iím totally open to that, absolutely.
I was wondering, if itís hard for you to connect with songs that are from decades that are before you and if you thought that that was a fair thing to do.
Jason: No, I donít think that I have a hard time at all. Iím a huge fan of Sam Cooke. Iím a huge fan of Frank Sinatra. I love Michael Buble's takes on a lot of the older stuff, but that genre really wasnít available to us. Moon River was about as close as I could get to any of that kind style and stuff. Thatís why I chose that song because I have a lot of that influential sound in me I think.
Ď70ís, I really wanted to do some Journey. Thereís just a whole lot more that goesóyou can love a band. You can love a song, but if you canít get the rights to clear it, then you have to go to choice B. And sometimes choice B isnít always going to be the best choice. Thereís just so much that goes into song choice, that itís really out of our hands.
Again, do you think that itís necessarily fair for some of the younger contestants who might not have heard of any of this stuff to have to choose to deal with songs that they might not connect with?
Jason: I would say that in the past, of course, the top 24 has usually gotten to just have free reign, whatever genre, so that you could really from the beginning stand there and say, ďThis is who I am. This is what I am about.Ē Then people can really connect with you and then start to challenge you and your genres.
Maybe this year because weíve been promoted as the most talented, the best of the best of the past seasons, they knew that it was going to come down to song choice because everybody can get up there and bring their perfect song and it would just be who do you vote off? It was a challenge and I think that some people just have to rise to that challenge.
For the younger contestants, I know a lot of the younger contestants that are very talented at being able come up with the arrangements that are going to showcase them. They have tons of people that work there that are going to also help them. You just have to have the want to use, to tap into that resource. And for yourself, if you just really want to make a song your own, donít just rely on yourself, but use the people that they have there to help with that. And you canít really say that it was their fault or anything. You just have to bring it on the night.
Did you say, are you still in Grand Prairie right now, or did you say you were somewhere else?
Jason: Oh, living, I moved to Brandon about three years ago.
Since you have the roots in Grand Prairie, I just wanted to sort of get maybe a taste of what your, because you said that youíve been doing this for ten years, what kind of stuff have you been doing up to this point? And then maybe we can just get a couple of thoughts on Kady Malloy, who is our Idol hopeful here from Houston as well.
Jason: Okay. I started out just doing local talent competitions, radio competitions. They were putting together boy bands at the time. I was always in the final ten, just kind of the almost guy for the longest time. I did Six Flags Over Texas, performing out in different shows out there for a number of years. And then I got an opportunity to join a pop group, audition for making the band, the very first one. I was the top 25 finalist for the O Town group. So I was on the first television episode of that on ABC back in 1999.
So that really helped me get to know some people and through that, I joined a production company that was putting together another boy band. we signed a developmental deal with them and they really helped us try to get a record deal. But unfortunately at that time, all the whole boy band craze was right after 9/11, it was just kind of all going downhill. It was an awesome experience. I was in the group for two years and got the see the world. I lived in Munich, Germany for seven months. I got to record with some of the greatest producers in the world. Iíll never forget that experience.
And coming home, I immediately saw American Idol was just starting. I auditioned the second season for American Idol, just coming off of that pop group, thinking that surelyóI had seen the first season of the show and thought I know maybe Iím not the best singer in the world. But I thought I would have a pretty good shot at getting through the semi-finals. I invested so muchóI dropped out of college again to go and do that audition.
They shot me down the very first preliminary round before I got to Simon, Paula and Randy. They told me, they said, it was the very first judge, I think it was Simon Lithgow, Nigelís son. And he said, ďDonít get me wrong. You have a great voice, but we already have a handful of really good singers in the competition this year. Weíre just looking for people to make a good television show at this point.Ē That just really turned me off from the show for five years.
And then this last year, I was about to turn 28. I'd kind of given up on everything. I had lost my show in Brandon that I was starring in out there, so I was just waiting tables. I just wanted to give it one, last go-round. Now I made top 20 on American Idol. It was a great experience. Hopefully, this will be something on this level, even though I didnít win, I still think that Iím a winner. I still think that something great is going to come out of this. Iím looking forward to whatever that opportunity that arises out of it.
What is your reaction to the emphasis on your lack of authenticity, the judgesí comments?
Robbie: Itís kind of a little strong point me for me. I have spent the past six years working my tail off in grungy bars and pulling our own trailer with our equipment, loading it in and out and living out of a van sometimes, doing all the grunt work that they didnít see me doing. Because of what I did before with pop music, that was a job to me. If you ever turn my CD player on while I was out on the road, youíd be hearing rock the whole. Like I said before, this is me. You get what you see.
And I wanted to ask, too, the Web has been going nuts about your hair.
Robbie: Oh, God.
What do you want to say about that?
Robbie: Iíve been growing this hair for a very long time and I think itís ridiculous that they have to come up with something like that.
And no wigs, right?
Now song choice is, of course, extremely important. Can you describe your song choice preface for this weekís performance?
Robbie: Going into the Ď70ís, there are plenty of great bands to choose from. I picked Foreigner because I really like Foreigner. Theyíve been one of my favorite bands to listen to. I like the song Hot Blooded, and I figured it would be more of an upbeat kind of a song, kind of a party song. I went with that one because I thought it would be a lot of fun to do.
Whatís the most difficult aspect of being an Idol contestant?
Robbie: Finding the time to sleep. Obviously, itís a lot of work, but itís well worth it.
I know that you were friends with Britney Spears. I wanted to know whether she had been in touch to say congratulations or anything like that.
Robbie: No, I havenít spoken to her in many years.
How do you feel about that fact that Vehicle has been commenting on that? Thereís been a lot of talk on the Web about it. How do you feel about that?
Robbie: Honestly, it was a long time ago. We were friends on tour. Thatís was pretty much the gist of it. It wasnít really that big of a deal.
So there is nothing behind all of this gossip at all.
Robbie: We went on a couple of dates, but that was pretty much it.
I just wanted to find out also, what your plans for the future were after Idol.
Robbie: I plan on getting my hands into everything I possibly can. I want to create a new record and shopping around and look for record deals and see what I can come up with and see if there are any offers put on the table. So far, thereís been a couple and Iím going to exhaust every option that I can.
Next week was going to be Ď80ís. I was curious. Did you have a song in mind already next week if you had made it past this week?
Robbie: Yes, I was really looking forward to that one, too.
Robbie: Yes, I wanted to do a Billy Idol, Rebel Yell.
That would have been fun. I donít think theyíve ever done Billy Idol before.
Robbie: I donít think so. Thatís kind of why I wanted to try it.
How about if you had gone to the Beatles. They talked about doing Beatles for the final 12. Did you have a Beatles song in mind yet or thinking about?
Robbie: I donít know. Thereís a few to choose from and there are so many great ones. I honestly, I hadnít narrowed it down to anything yet.
Had you ever sung any, like in a cover band situation, any Beatles songs before?
Robbie: Yes, Iíve sung Blackbird before.
Tell me, the fact that you sort of had this career before this career, how did you approach this competition differently from, say, how the younger kids were approaching it?
Robbie: Well, I guess, having performed before on stage and had a little bit of time working with press and interviews like this, I thought I kind of had a little bit more experience doing stuff like that. So I thought that coming into it, that I might be able to have a leg up on the competition, so to speak.
Was there difference with the older contestants, you, Michael, Jason Yeager, etc., who had been working at the business for a while, versus the teenagers?
Robbie: We didnít really bond because weíd all done this before. We had a little bit in common between us, music-wise. I guess you could say that because weíd done some of this stuff before and we kind of exchanged stories or whatnot of what we used to do. Theyíre all a bunch of really cool guys. We all got to know each other and hopefully, weíll be staying in touch through the rest of this and I hope they do very well.
So Iím wondering, especially having had some experience in the business before, did competing in Idol change you at all? Do you feel like you came out having evolved a little bit, either musically or mentally, emotionally?
Robbie: Considering that itís been a while since Iíve done a lot of this, including interviews, I think coming out of this, Iím going to bring back, obviously, an incredible experience. I worked with some incredible vocal coaches and the musicians were just top-of-the-line. I learned a lot from them. I came in to this like a sponge, trying to absorb everything that I could with all these people, who have had years and years of experience. Iíll be taking all the knowledge that I got from them back with me and applying it whatever I do here in the future.
Who are you going to miss? Who was kind of your crew while you were there; who are you going to miss?
Robbie: Oh, man, thereís quite a few people. All of them, really, but I became good friends with Dave Cook and Michael Johns. My roommate was Luke. Kristy Lee Cook, we kind of got to know each other and sheís really cool. Amanda, we all kind of hung out together. I wish them the best. I hate that I had to leave so soon, but hopefully, theyíll be seeing more of me in the future and I wish them the best of luck.
Being a rocker, who are some of the rockers are you inspired by and will continue in that vein?
Robbie: Oh, definitely. Iíll definitely continue with everything that Iíve taken so far and apply it to the future. Iíll definitely stay in rock. I guess some of my inspiration that I draw from would be, gosh, thatís a wide variety, all the way from Lynyrd Skynyrd from classic rock, Aerosmith, Rob Thomas, Corn, Ö, those are a lot of my influences. Those guys I look up to, especially with their career and the success that theyíve had.
I have another Britney question for you. When you guys were together back in 1999, did you notice any bizarre behavior from her that might have made you think that she was bipolar?
Robbie: Who says sheís bipolar?
These days, weíre just seeing a little manic behavior from her, so I was just wondering if you noticed any erratic behavior from her when you were hanging out with her back in the day.
Robbie: No, not at all. She was always a real down-to-earth girl. Sheís incredible. Sheís a really good girl and a lot of people are saying stuff about her. I kind of wish that everybody would just leave her alone and let her be. I wish her the best in the future. I think everything will work out fine.
Thatís good, so do you have any advice for her in terms of her life or even on to her career?
Robbie: Didnít she just release an album?
Robbie: Yes, I thought so. I think that so far, that one is doing pretty good. I congratulate her on that and I wish her the best of luck with everything and just tell her donít listen to everybody else.
The Foreigner song was upbeat and up-tempo, but you established yourself as maybe you couldíve really gone somewhere as a really hard rocker. Do you think in retrospect, that maybe you couldíve chosen something that rocked even harder than that?
Robbie: I donít really see myself as a heavy hard rocker. With my band back home, I do stuff like Shine Down with Simple Man and Fly From the Inside. Fly From the Inside would probably be one of the hardest, their 45. We even do stuff from Rob Thomas and Three Doors Down, kind of mellow stuff. I didnít come into this trying to come out as a real heavy rocker, so it kind of makes me wonder their opinion thinking that I wasnít a rocker because I didnít come out so hard core and edgy. I have many different styles that I draw my influence from. I chose that song because I really liked it.
Name a couple of people that just kind of impress you. You donít have to pick the best, but who are a couple of people that just impressed you and you think that maybe they can do real well in this competition?
Robbie: How I can even put that into words. Everybody is incredible. The competition this year is amazing. All the talent is amazing. I think that it would be unfair for me to say who I think would be doing better. Especially as many friends as Iíve made out here, I donít think it would be quite fair. Honestly, I wish everybody the best of luck. I really canít say.
Let me ask a variation of that real briefly. The fact that two of the most experienced guys got voted out this week, in some ways might there be an advantage to being inexperienced? Somehow the viewers latch on to that, particularly the young voters, that it might even be a slight disadvantage to being a really experienced singer?
Robbie: You know, Iíve tossed that around both ways. Iím not really sure how everybody is voting on that. I thought with experience, I might come out looking a little bit more as a polished musician or singer. Iím not so sure if theyíre looking at that thinking, ďOkay, this person has had experience. Letís give somebody else the chance.Ē I was hoping that it wouldnít come down to anything like that, which I really, honestly, I donít think it did.
Like I said, there are some extremely great and talented people this year. Itís going to end up coming down to song choice. Somebody is definitely going to have to drop the ball bad to get voted off because, like I said, theyíre so good this year.
Thank you to FOX for allowing us to participate in this media call!