We had an opportunity to participate in a media call with this week's eliminated contestant, Carly Smithson. Here's what she had to say about Simon, fashion... and summer camp?
Hi Carly. I thought you took being voted off like a champ last night.You had to be shocked, because I was shocked you were in the bottom two in the first place. So what was going through your head when you got in the bottom two, first of all?
C. Smithson: I think at this stage weíre all kind of weíre in the top six, and I fell that everybody was kind of thinking that they were going to go home. Not one person feels safe anymore, and weíre all just so grateful for the experience. I know I feel like American Idol has given me such a gift, such a platform to be able to launch myself off of and no more theme songs. Iím actually, Iím not that sad to be leaving. I enjoyed every minute thoroughly, but you know weíre back in two weeks to start preparing for the tour and the finale. So itís like a small break and Iím going to be back. I think anywhere after top ten is just a bonus. I think I made enough of an impact to be able to reach a good fan base, and now I get to be just me without a theme night and make a really cool record. So Iím excited.
Well, Iím glad to hear that, and, just as a follow-up, the reason I was surprised even more though because I thought that was one of your most joyful performances.
C. Smithson: I loved every minute of it, I really did. I had fun, and I think maybe it was too late, but I realized not to take everything so seriously. You know early on in the show they had set the standard so high for me, and they were a lot harder on me than other contestants and I think it kind of got to me for a maybe a few weeks, and I think by the time I met Mariah Carey I had kind of changed my mind. She was just so cool and so normal and so nice. Because you know obviously we come into this and they want us to be a star, but like I come from a bar and I have no idea what a star really is supposed to act like. So I just thought it was really cool that when we met here I was just like ďwell, you know I can just be normal and thatís cool.Ē You know?
As I hear your voice I just find it remarkable that there was a period where you werenít singing. Could you kind of describe that? What was the period where you were just working at the bar and not singing? How long was that and why really had you quit singing?
C. Smithson: I moved to Georgia in, I believe, late 2003, and I just decided to be a waitress. I had worked really hard to try and break the music industry, and I just wanted to kind of get away from it and love it again, because it started to kind of become something that was like, I donít know, like so out of my reach for so long. And it started to become like something that was kind of, not negative to me, but just I needed to leave it to love it more if you know what I mean? It had just been such a struggle and an effort, so I left it for a while and I was a waitress from 2003 till we moved to San Diego. And I started working at a bar there in like 2005, and I started singing at the bar. I just started to want it so bad again, and music to me itís just everything, so whether Iím singing in my living room or on a stage, like Idol, I just I love every minute of it. Itís just such a great gift that Iíve been given, and, I donít know, I think Idol has given me such a great gift to be able to show the world; itís just amazing.
It was about two years there, and what was it like then when all of a sudden that voice came out of one of their waitresses at the bar? How--?
C. Smithson: It was so funny because they had no act for New Yearís, and you know I had had experience before, and you know it kind of was a weird experience for me. So I just decided to kind of put it in my past, and I never told anyone that I worked with that I sang; it was kind of funny. I guess it was funny for people that worked at Fado in Atlanta, because you know Michael Johns used to be the singing entertainment and I wasnít. You know I was just the waitress, and we didnít exactly work there at exactly the same time, but it was funny for them, I guess, to watch the show and be likeóyou know I kept it so silent that I sang until I got to San Diego and they needed an act for the New Yearís, and I said that I knew a few people in L.A. I could put a small band together and see what happened, and we just had such fun that night that I was just like ďI need to do this again. I miss music so much.Ē And I always wrote and I always sung at home, but you know I never did it in a professional way for many, many years, and I love it now. I have such a hunger and music is just itís such a gift, and Iím just so excited now to be creative. I mean, everybody keeps asking me why Iím not like devastated and bawling crying for being eliminated, because this is now Iím free to go make a record and to start writing and all that kind of stuff and be with my husband and you know hang out in the real world you know, because the Idol bubble is kind of weird.
Hey, I wanted to ask you, because some people on the radio this morning were talking about how you had referenced after you had sung last night that you actually remembered your words, and some people thought that you were alluding to Brooke, but you were actually talking about yourself, right?
C. Smithson: Oh, yes. That song was last minute. When I sang for Andrew Lloyd Weber Iíd learned the other song, ďAll I Ask of You,Ē and thereís a lot of words in ďJesus Christ Superstar,Ē so, yes, I fumbled on a few of the lyrics. And I was coming up to the performance and I was talking to Andrew in the back. I knew all the words in the moment, but I knew as soon as I got on the stage I was going to fumble a few, and I was so irritated at myself when I got off the stage. Last night I got them all right, but I did change one and Andrew knew about it. But I called Simon the king of the crop instead of the pick of the crop, but that was on purpose. I thought that would be funny.
And I was wondering what Neil Diamond song were you planning to sing next week if you had stuck around.
C. Smithson: I was planning to sing ďSweet Caroline," and I wanted to do kind of balladish kind ofóbecause I did such up-tempo this weekóI was going to actually do it with like a cello and a piano and make it like a slower like just a big, big, big song. Because itís such a recognizable songó--that you know, I mean, Neil Diamond heís got such amazing songs. Heís got such a huge catalog, and even songs that I think we were all kind of amazed that he knew or that he did that we know. You know? And it was just really cool to see his catalog book. Obviously the main one that stuck out like a sore thumb was ďSweet Caroline.Ē
What did you feel about Randy saying popularity was a factor and Paula mentioning the fan bases last night?
C. Smithson: I agree a little bit. I think that you know I kind of started out on the show with some bad press, and I donít think it really helped me that much. But I think you know early on people accumulate their fan base, so you know every week I gave as good as I could, and I enjoyed every moment on the show, I really did. Everything was just so amazing, the response that I had. But you know I think the boys this year as well, I said this in my Idol Extra exit you know, and Michael Johns actually came to it and I said you know the boys this yearówomen vote for this show you know itís obvious and you know they vote for the boys. The boys are adorable and I definitely feel that the girls had more of a struggle this year with trying to get the popularity vote. I think the boys are definitely charming the females a lot, and theyíre very talented too. Everyoneís very talented, but I think it was definitely a bit of a struggle for the ladies.
And why do you believe the contestants were given a Broadway challenge?
C. Smithson: I donít know. I think theyíve been wanting to do Andrew Lloyd Weber for a couple of years, and it finally happened this year. He is so incredible. I donít think it was a challenge. Iím not sure that Broadway was really anything, I think, challenging to any of us. Obviously every night is a challenge you know, but Broadway I just think thereís such a vast amount of music from the catalog of Andrew Lloyd Weber that thereís something for everyone in there. Like you look at Mariah Carey, that was a hard week for everyone, I think. But I truly think that looking through all of Andrew Lloyd Weberís songs, there was something for every person in that top six.
You mentioned, you kind of touched on this already, but you talked about how the judges were a little bit harder on you than the others, and the fact that you did get some bad press in the beginning. And it sort of, I think, added up to some really unique challenges for you through this journey. I mean, how did you sort of wade through that with your head above water these past weeks?
C. Smithson: I donít know. The first time I auditioned, obviously, was season five, and I walked into the room and Iíd neveróIíd watched to show, but notóafter Iíd been a part of it, if you know what I mean, after Iíd actually auditioned, I probably watched the show a lot more than I had ever done.
So I watched the season that Taylor won, and then I watched Jordan win, and then Iím in the next season oddly enough, you know? But I do truly believe that I walked into that audition and I was going to a Motley Crue concert that night, I wasnít necessarily in town to audition for Idol, so I donít feel that there was such pressure on myself from myself you know to do well. You know that kind of way?
It was more of I didnít have time to think about the audition. Now when it came to San Diego you know I had time to think about it in the weeks running up to it, and you know it is nerve racking. You know Iíve already been disqualified and coming I had such a great audition in Las Vegas you know they loved me. And then I come and I just felt like it was like I had to beat myself almost. And I walked into the room and I gave it everything I had and it was actually really amusing, because you guys obviously havenít seen the footage of the Las Vegas audition, but I asked to see because I was so confused as to like that wasnít as good as two years ago. And I watched it back and itís funny, everyone says itís like exactly the same. It was no different.
It was the same song as well you know, because I walked in the room and I was about to sing something else and they said to sing the same song because they had liked it so much from before. I donít know, itís like he set this high bar for me straight awayó--and I was like trying to beat myself every week you know to be better and better and better, and I felt that I did a great job. I gave it everything that I had, and I was satisfied for myself with my performances. I guess Simon just had a different idea in his mind, and Iím not sure he really wanted me to be who I am.
You know I donít think they liked the whole you know kind of pop rock you know harsh idea that I have about myself, and I donít know. I canít please everybody, and you know heís only one person. And you know he truly said to me the other night that he truly believes in me and he thinks that Iím very good, and he has high hopes for me. And you know I think all of his criticism wasnít necessarily negative. I think he just really wanted me to do well you know, and I gave it everything that I could. I made it to sixth place. Iím truly happy with that; I really am. I think itís fantastic.
You really looked like you had fun Tuesday night, and it looked like Andrew Lloyd Weber was quite taken by you and your voice. And I wonder if Broadway could be in your future?
C. Smithson: Maybe.
And I also wanted to know about the significance of the Amy Winehouse tattoo.
C. Smithson: Oh, thatís so funny. You know itís a geisha. It looks nothing like Amy Winehouse. Itís just not colored in and everyone keeps asking me why I have Amy Winehouse on my arm, but itís actually been on my arm for two years before she even came out. So when itís colored in you guys will all understand, but it looks like she has big hair but she actually doesnít. Itís just because itís like black and white and itís not, you know, a close-up photo, but I have the actual painting at home and itís actually a Japanese geisha.
Itís so funny, even Andrew Lloyd Weber said heís like ďoh, look you have Amy Winehouse on your arm.Ē Iím like no. It was funny, but I love my tattoo and that was one thing in the show that really bothered me that it wasnít finished and we never get any time you. And I really wanted to go and get it finished, but, yes, her face will be white and her lips will be red. Sheíll look nothing like Amy Winehouse by the time itís finished.
And what about Broadway, do you think thatís in your future. I mean, he really - out of all the interviews that they showed backstage, I thought he was smitten with you?
C. Smithson: You know I have to say, every contestant as well has nothing but high, high words about that man. He was one of our most amazing mentors. Every mentor taught us something different. Like Mariah really showed me thatóyou know I think I touched on this beforeóthat sheís just a person. You know I donít know what a star is, and I came into this you know likeóthey kept wanting me to be a star, and I was like well, you know Iím a bartender I donít know what a star is supposed to act like you know? And I met Mariah Carey and sheís just a regular person, but Andrew Lloyd Weber he took so much time with us and really cared about every song that we were doing and every choice that we made. I just feel personally just so grateful for this entire experience to be able to learn what Iíve learned, and Dolly Parton had such a great, I donít know, just such a positive outlook on everything. Iíve never come across a woman that just walks into a room and it just lights up. She just walks in, and everything was just like amazingly happy and fun and it was awesome. Just this whole experience, it was really cool.
I wanted to touch on your fashion sense for a little while, because I really enjoyed the way you dressed on the show, and you seemed to be the contestant that experimented the most with fashion and hair and make-up. So can you tell me a little bit about what went through your mind each week when you were picking out your looks, and if your looks affected the way that you performed?
C. Smithson: You know I have no idea. I kind of go out when I go shopping and I just look for something thatís different. I donít want to look like everybody else. I am tattooed so Iím not dainty wear doesnít really go down a tree with me; sometimes it just looks kind of weird or awkward on me. So I donít know, every week I just wanted to look standout a little bit more, and apparently Simon thinks I have bad fashion, but I really donít care. I loved everything that I wore, and I wouldnít change anything really that I wore through the whole thing. I think the last dress that I wore was definitely my favorite, and the blue dress that I wore on ďCome Together;Ē that was really cool.
That was a pretty one.
C. Smithson: Yes, itís really cool when you do put something on that totally the whole ďCome TogetherĒ song and the dress and then ďJesus Christ Superstar,Ē it just all kind of clicked together and it was really cool.
So it definitely influences the way you perform?
C. Smithson: Yes, definitely, and also as well some of the dresses like--and ďCrazy on You;Ē they just so fitted the songs. So it makes everything just so much better, it really does, but I donít know I donít really think about fashion that much. I just like things that look cool.
One of the themes weíve been hearing each week from the eliminated contestants from Kristy, from Michael, has been about the idea that American Idol can function as sort of a second chance for people. Could you talk about how that sort of played for you?
C. Smithson: I donít know, I mean, everybody feels that it was like a second chance. Iím not sure I even like had a first chance. Like I did get signed before, but it just never really happened and it never came out. You know it went to stores, but it was never promoted. It just kind of like crashed beneath my feet. The record label imploded, so I donít know. You know I learned a lot from my first experience, but I understand it was a second experience, but I feel like it was my first chance. You know that kind of way, and I like to see it in a fresh mind. I like to not dwell on things that had happened before, and I just like to see this as the first real experience that Iíve really had. You know I learned so much more with this and had such more of a positive experience than I had ever had in the past. I donít know, I like to look at this experience and just move on in the future and maybe it was a second chance. Is that okay to look at it that way?
Absolutely, but still looking back at what you did on that first album and looking forward to the album that you hope to make. How is it going to be different in your mind?
C. Smithson: I just feel like such a different person. I mean like I understand that you knowóIím very proud of the first record that I made, but you know at the same time, I was fifteen. How experienced with life are you at fifteen years of age, and I wrote like four songs on that record and you know I really enjoyed myself and I did learn a lot. But it kind of like it almost like by the time ďBeautiful You,Ē one of the last tracks was written on the record, it was almost written just as the record was about to go out. It was just over. It went to stores. It never got promoted, and I ended up back in Ireland with just a weird situation; it just happened. So I definitely feel like American Idol was like my first chance, my first real chance, because nowóyou know people didnít know about me before and they never really heard of the record. It just never happened. So I definitely feel like this time it was just so big and it was just on a different level and just such a different experience that Iím just soóI just feel like it was such a big gift. It was just so amazing and what a great chance it is, and I thank the entire show for putting me through and believing in me. Itís just been amazing.
You were the sixth contestant out of the top twelve and weíve talked to all these other contestants the day after they were eliminated. I donít know, for some reason you sound the most upbeat... some of them really sounded like they were just on their last leg. So I thought it might be interesting for readers and Idol fans to kind of know once that show is overóso take us through briefly just what itís like from that point to where youíre talking to us this morning at 10:00?
C. Smithson: I donít know, I mean, I think the show is just amazing, and it really you knowóitís such a huge platform to launch yourself off of. I donít know, I just feel likeómaybe if I hadnít come in before the you know tenth place or whatever that I mightíve been a little bit more upset, but sixth place, I donít think thatís anything to be miserable about. I think itís amazing, and itís like a gift of two weeks to spend with my family before I go on tour, because you know we start rehearsals very soon.
So, I donít know, Iíll be bummed not to see my friends for two weeks, but you know Iíll get to go home and gather my thoughts, and you know Iím just excited to start writing and finally be out of the cover songs, if you know what I mean----and be able to sing my material, because I have a lot of stuff that Iíve been writing.
Iím just ready to make a record and just enjoy life in general, I donít know, go to the beach, do the things I used to do in my everyday life. Everyone keeps saying ďoh, your lifeís going to change.Ē Iím just going to try and keep my life asóI will work very hard and I will grab this opportunity by the horns, but me as a person, Iím not going to change. Iíve craved all the things that I used to do, the simple things in life that you miss. You know what I miss the most is like my pots and pans. Thatís so ridiculous. I really do. Iím like a kitchen gadget like nut, but I miss my kitchen so much.
Now that there are only two female performers left, do you think theyíll kind of draw strength from one another. You had mentioned earlier that it seemed like this was a year where the women were really pulling for the guys. How will Brooke and Syesha kind ofóI mean, you were kind of a very strong person Iím sure for them. How do you think theyíre going to respond?
C. Smithson: I have no idea. I was like camp counselor. I was always there like drying everyoneís eyes and saying ďyouíve got to pull yourself together, itís your moment.Ē I honestly donít know. I think theyíre so different from each other you know as artists. Syeshaís got the whole R&B thing going on and sheís got this huge voice, and Brooke always says that you know that sheís not got that huge voice, but I think that thereís something so special about her that she just stops you dead in your tracks when she opens her mouth. So theyíre so amazingly different from each other and so amazing in themselves that you know I donít know, Iíll still be there on the phone. Iíll always be mom. You know this entire show Iíve looked after everybody and you know weíre only a phone call away. So, I donít know, weíve all just drawn so much out of each other, and Iíve learned something from each and every contestant that was on the show, even people from Hollywood week. Iíve learned a lot just about how other people live their lives and stuff. When you live with that many people and youíre in their face like everyday itís just you learn different ways of life. You know?
Iíve got to ask you, you talking about being the mother and looking out over everyone. Thereís this widespread feeling that itís going to come down to the two Davids. Do you see it that way and how do the other finalists see it? Are you hearing that speculation?
C. Smithson: You know I have no idea. Itís kind of anyoneís game. People have their peopleóIím phrasing this wrongópeople have their favorites already. If you know what I mean?
I donít know, it could be anything. You know, Castro could look into the camera and bat his eyelids and go into his amazing falsetto voice; and Brooke could you know just melt someoneís heart; David Archuleta could justóyou know they give these amazing performances every week, and everyoneís so different that I honestly donítóI have no idea like who it could be between. You know? I mean nobody saw Michael Johns going home, nobody saw Alaina Whittaker going home, nobody saw Amanda goingóyou know there was all these shocking eliminations, that you know. I mean there could be another shocker you know? You never know what lies up the sleeve of American Idol.
Do you have a favorite though?
C. Smithson: A favorite? My favorite went a long time ago. My favorite was Amanda Overmyer; she was fantastic, fantastic, and, obviously, you know I love the rest of the people and I could never pick a favorite. Theyíre all so great and you know theyíre all so different. Itís just weird this year. You know you before had like two R&B singers or three rockers; you know that kind of thing? Here you didnít. Everyone had their own thing. There was nobody that was directly competing with somebody else. You know that kind of way? It was really cool, and Iím definitely I feel blessed to be a part of this year.
It definitely feels a lot greater going out sixth this year then it probably would have any other year. I feel really good about it.
Carly, do you have any closing remarks?
C. Smithson: No, other than just like Iím cool. Iím so happy and I just feel like Iíve just been given the greatest gift ever to be on the show and to be able to experience everything that I did and learn everything that I did. I feel like I went out on a high note and I enjoyed every minute of Tuesday and Wednesday night.