After a nationwide vote on Thursday, and the judges save of Sonika Vaid from the bottom 3, hip hop performer, Avalon Young, and singer/songwriter, Lee Jean were eliminated from the American Idol Top 8. Check out what they had to say to reporters during a satellite interview on Friday.
On Thursday, the day she was eliminated, Avalon thanked her fans for their support no matter what happened. Was she expecting to be eliminated this week?
A: I never try to get too comfortable during the show. I always wanted to thank them whether I left last night or was going to win. I thank them before every episode. You never know what’s going to happen. They were the reason I was there in the first place. Thanking them is always my priority.
Idol must have been a huge growth experience for teenaged Lee. How will he expand upon the lessons he learned on the show?
L: This whole experience has just been amazing. It has been a definite learning experience–coming here at 15, leaving here at 16–learning all the things I have and being surrounded by these amazing people. From this point on I’m going to try to keep surrounding myself with positive vibes and people that I can learn from. [I will] continue to strive no matter what I’m doing.
Has either felt conflicted singing a song they wanted vs what others working on the show wanted them to sing?
A: I definitely had that moment. I sang Stitches by Shawn Mendes [two weeks ago]. I was going to do a different song and they suggested I should step out of my box a little. I was totally down to do that. I tried it out, and it didn’t do too well for me. I have no regrets. Ultimately, I did choose that song. It’s always about the song choice, but [even] more about how you sell the song.
L: Being young, I’m not necessarily completely aware of what kind of artist I want to strive to be. Whenever I would go in with some songs, I would always try to keep an open mind. I never knew what they were going to throw out. Maybe it might sound good. I never had any real struggling conflicts about whether I should sing this song [or that song]. I always put in songs that I love. If there was one song over the other, I wouldn’t even mind because I’m just comfortable performing in general.
Did Avalon and Lee feel they were in competition for 2nd place behind the talented LaPorsha Renae? Was it disheartening to have to follow her every week?
A: You never know what’s going to happen. Lee is a good example. For a couple of weeks, he was going right through. Yesterday we were all kind of shocked, and we go home. Obviously I have all the faith in the world in La’Porsha. I think she’s an incredible human…a ridiculously good singer. I feel like we’re not in a place to make any predictions because you never know what’s going to happen. It’s all in America’s hands.
L: I completely agree. Everything is so random. You never know who America going to pick, or why they are going to pick them. Honestly, I never personally felt like I was in a competition with La’Porsha, let alone anyone else in the competition. It was always just a competition with myself and trying to further and better myself every week. I love everybody to death. Honestly whoever wins, whoever it may be, I’m glad that they won.
Was there something Avalon learned about herself or about the music industry that she’ll take with her moving forward in her music career?
A: Absolutely. Before I started this whole journey I kinda knew that I had a talent that I liked and really wanted to pursue it. I remember my very very first audition in San Francisco I thought there was a 50% chance of making it through. I really thought I was going home that day. And there were times in Hollywood week I left the stage crying because I was sure I was going home. I made it to Top 24 and there was Top 14 and Top 10 and made it all the way to Top 8. I think as a musician and a human, the best way to succeed in what I want to do in life, which is music–you’ve got to believe in yourself. You’ve got to wake up telling yourself you can do it. If there’s a day you tell yourself that you can’t, you’re going to start believing that.
What was the biggest challenge Lee had to overcome during the Idol competition?
L: The biggest struggle I’ve had being here, and it doesn’t even have to do with performing or the competition, is making such good friends with everybody here and having to see them go. It’s being in this situation myself and having to say “see you later” to all my friends that I’ve met here. Going from seeing them every day and spending so much time with them…doing work with them and having so much fun, to not seeing them for God knows how long. I think that’s going to be the hardest part for me.
Is Lee hoping to become a successful artist like other Idol alums who came before him?
L: As an artist being in this industry, you can only hope for the best. Of course it’s what I’m hoping for. This whole experience for me has been just a platform. This is where I literally started my career. I didn’t have much of anything before this. Now I have a following. Going forward, I’m definitely planning on capitalizing on my following–having all the people that support me now–showing them what else I can do. [I’m going to] try to put myself out there as much as possible and progress from this point forward.
At the end of the show Thursday Lee mentioned being an inspiration to other young singers out there. It kind seemed like he was ready to say goodbye. Can he elaborate?
L: I always try to prepare myself for stuff like that. I didn’t want to put myself in the top and be shot down and have a whole scene on the stage. I’m always ready to go home. I don’t ever want to get comfortable at being in the top. That speech–whatever you want to call it–that’s one of the biggest reasons why I got into doing something like this. I’ve always been touched by people who do what they love and have honest music–people that can write and make you feel something. I have so much respect for people that can do what they love to do, and inspire other people to do what they want to do. I would love to be one of those people. That’s what I’m going to strive for the rest of my life. To be someone who inspires people.
Was Avalon surprised by Jennifer Lopez’s comments to change up her performance next time?
A: I was a little bit surprised. Prior to that she had told me how much she loved the performance. When they told me to do something different, I was a little lost. I knew that there were only five shows left regardless of whether I left yesterday or I left at the finale. If I’m only going to get to sing for America five more times I wanted to do my thing and have a good time and really be myself on TV, so that when I did come out of the competition I didn’t have to change anything or go back to being any kind of way. I’ve been myself from day 1 and I remain the same as I was on that first audition.
Scott Borchetta had said in an interview Thursday that Lee was sick. How is he feeling now?
L: I’m feeling great. They took me to the doctor and they gave me a lot of antibiotics. I had the choice of whether or not to perform this week. If I didn’t perform this week, I was going to perform next week in the bottom 3. I chose to perform because that’s how it is in this industry. No matter what happens to you, the show goes on. You must perform regardless. I took that as a lesson.
How did Lee balance school work as a minor with his responsibilities on the show?
L: We were required 3 hours of school every day. It was a crutch at times, but I think it was also sort of a benefit because those 3 hours were a time to wind down from the competition. You could read or do math. You wouldn’t think that schoolwork was relaxing. In this kind of environment, it was a chill 3 hours every day for me.
How important was song choice in the competition for Avalon?
A: I think song choice was the most important thing…and the way you performed the song. For me it was really important because I think the key to going further and further in the competition was being different. You stand out or else you’re going to be boring and you ‘re going to fade into the background. I knew I was a little different than everyone on the show. I had to pick songs that exaggerated who I am as a person and I think I did that every week. I’m happy with everything I did on the show. I have no regrets. It was an amazing experience and I’m glad that I picked the songs that I did because it gave me a chance to shine.
What are Avalon’s post Idol plans?
A: Get back in that studio. Gotta get back on that horse. Start writing and recording. I’m ready to go from here. I want to collaborate with anyone and everyone and go on tour somehow.
What was it like for Avalon to sing for the save a second week?
A: It was cool because this week, I was familiar with the feeling. For me to be standing there–of course it was crappy. The worst is to know that not enough people out there voted. The worst feeling was having to leave my friends. I think that was the biggest heart sinking feeling. I told myself, whether I was the first one to go through to the top 6 or I was the last one in the bottom 3, I was still going to sing it the same way–give it 5 million percent. As a singer and an artist, if I get the opportunity to sing on the stage I’m going to kill it every time.
What was it like for Avalon and Lee to sing with Idol alums a few weeks back? (Ruben Studdard and Chris Daughtry, respectively)
L: I couldn’t even tell you how amazing that was. He’s [Chris Daughtry] is such a down-to-earth person. His voice is just so…it’s Chris Daughtry! You can’t really describe him. He’s such a sweet—I have his number now! He’s so talented and so amazing. I feel like he pushed me to better myself, especially in that performance.
A: Same goes for [Ruben Studdard]. They give you a big brother vibe. They just want you to do well. That was the funniest part about American Idol. It was a competition, but everybody wanted to see you do your best. Probably the most awesome thing about American Idol is I never felt like I was competing with anyone. I felt like I was going through this great thing with a ton of my friends, and eventually people have to leave. But it’s the nature of the show.
What has been their favorite experience been on the show?
A: Doing stupid things and having fun with everyone! We all have friends and family, but we don’t have anyone going through that experience with us. It’s an experience you can’t put into words–to have people go through it with you . You don’t have to say the words, because you always understand each other. It’s really important to have.
L: Just being here and being surrounded by all these people. If you put X amount of musical people into a room, they’re not going to do anything but make friends because they all love the same thing. Putting those kinds of people in an environment that for so long…spending so much time together–there’s such a strong bond between all of us. Even the people that went home during Hollywood week or the people that we met at first audition…
A: I met my best friends in Hollywood Week
L: Exactly. There’s some really down to earth people. I’m going to miss that the most.
Did Avalon and Lee have a strategy when it came to making song choices?
A: My strategy would be…just pick something I’m familiar with and that I know I’m going to have fun with. I think the biggest key on the show, as dumb as it sounds, is to not take anything too seriously. The moment you start taking anything too seriously it doesn’t become fun. That’s what performing should be for us singers. We just want to have fun and we want to enjoy what we’re doing up there. My key for song choice was picking something I was comfortable with and picking something that I liked and that would be fun for me.
L: I didn’t really have a set strategy. It was just “be yourself.” At home I’m so easy going. I do what I feel, because I feel like doing it and it’s what I love to do. I wanted to have the same mentality here. I wanted to have as much fun as possible and spend time with the people I’ve grown to care about. This is an amazing experience for anyone, let alone somebody who wants to be an artist for the rest of their life. I just tried to suck everything in.
Were there any songs they wanted to sing, but didn’t get the chance?
A: There are thousands of songs that I wanted to sing–the list we chose from and all the songs in the world that we get to sing. There were a lot of weeks I had a hard time picking what I was going to sing because I was fond of so many songs. There’s not a single song that I could name but there’s hundreds and hundreds of songs that I would have loved to perform on that stage. But there are only so many performances.
Was there a song you had your heart set on, but for reasons you couldn’t get to sing it?
A: I actually got every song that I wanted. The time I sang Justin Bieber “Love Yourself” I was actually going to sing “Hotline Bling” by Drake. They worked on getting that cleared. It’s about finding a song that’s good and that you like…for Drake that’s a great song for him. But for me I just couldn’t find a key or an arrangement that really did anything for me. Yeah, they are pretty lenient and they are pretty good at getting us what we need. A lot of people think we don’t have control. But we have 100 percent control of everything we do on that show.
L: Being and artist, a singer/songwriter especially, there’s a lot of songs that won’t clear because not a lot of people know them, and it’s kind of like an underground vibe kind of thing. There’s a lot of artists that aren’t necessarily—they’re independent artists . I love the music, but they can’t be cleared. Or there are some people that won’t clear just for X reason. I wanted to sing every song that I sang on the show. Everything was a good choice for me. Everything was ultimately my choice. I’m really really proud of what I put out this season.
Avalon revealed on the show this week that she was diagnosed with OCD at age 7. Did it affect her on the show in any other way than the eye-twitching, which she mentioned?
A: No. I got a lot of…comments on line about it, which doesn’t bother me because I’ve had it since I was a kid. If they think they’re the first to bully me, they are definitely wrong. To me, it doesn’t bother me, because it’s not who I am as a person. I’m Avalon. I’m not OCD, I’m not anxiety. I’m a normal human it doesn’t take anything away from my voice, it doesn’t take anything away from my performance. Those are the only two things that I care about. To me, the OCD is such a minor, minor part of my life. I’m glad I touched on it though, because I think there a lot of girls and guys out there who are my age or younger and they deal with it too. It’s never really talked about. It was cool for me to have a moment where I could kind of break it down. “This is me and I know a lot of you out there have it. It is what it is. If I can get through it you can get through it.”
Jennifer mentioned Lees nerves during his last performance of ” Let it Be.” Was he actually nervous because of what was going on?
L: I would definitely say that I was nervous. I don’t say that often. That’s a statement. Being in the bottom 3, that was a little nerve wracking for me. That’s not the me that I was used to. I’m 16 and I’m ill experienced. Being in the bottom 3 was tough for me, but I feel like the performance that I gave was something that was from the heart no matter the nerves or the pitch or whatever was wrong with it. Everything that was right with it was right for a reason.
Have Avalon or Lee heard from any of the stars of the songs they covered like Chris Brown or Ed Sheeran?
A: I haven’t heard from anybody like [Chris Brown] But Justin Guarini did reach out, which was cool, because I talked about him in one of my interviews. I covered PYT this week, and he actually did that on his season too.
L: Ed Sheeran I’m pretty sure he’s taking a break from social media right now. I unfortunately didn’t get reached out by him. I’ve gotten reached out by a lot of people who have touched me on a musical level. One of the main people. was Chris Medina . I loved his performance, and I loved how he dedicated, I think, to his fiancé at the time. That song really meant a lot to me. I’m so glad he got to sit there and watch my performance. He actually tweeted me, and he followed me on twitter. He said, “You’ve got the stuff man.” And I was like…”I cannot believe Chris Medina said that to me. Thank you so much!” It was just ridiculous seeing people that you look up to tell you you’re good.
The AfterBuzz host interviewing Avalon also hales from San Diego and was able to get a good interview in terms of exploring who the singer is as an artist and the musical milieu she came out of. Also, Avalon planned to sing Here by Alessia Cara next week.