Jessica Meuse on Last Minute Song Changes and Judges Critiques (PLUS VIDEO)


American Idol 13 Top 4 eliminated contestant, Jessica Meuse, talks about the original song last minute switch, how she feels about the judges panel and more.

Did she think the judges were harder on her than anyone else? Did she feel picked on? “At times, definitely. But I know it’s part of the game, and I have bigger things ahead of me. I’m very sure of that. I’m going to make it happen.”

Was there a particular judge that she looked up to the most.  “I really like Harry and Keith. But after last night, I think Harry is probably my favorite. I like to compare him to somebody up in the stands while you’re playing a football game, and you don’t necessarily see what’s about to happen, or the things you’re doing wrong out there on the field, because you’re down there and that’s your perspective. But he’s up there and he can see everything. He knows what he’s talking about. And he’s like ‘Oh, you’re doing need to do this.’ He has the correct terminology and he understands it. He can pinpoint things and ultimately help you grow.”

What was the best advice that Harry gave her? “Probably just like…feeling it. I think that’s the best advice anyone can give–make sure you’re feeling what you’re doing and convince people.”

Is there a reason why information about the third song was withheld from fans and even TV Line, who posted the spoilers? “I really don’t know why it was withheld. I didn’t know it was. We were aware of the three songs ahead of time. It was originally going to be originals, because we are all songwriters in the Top 4.”

All four of the contestants had practiced original songs during the week? “The “So What” song was a last minute switcheroo and I had to learn it in like a day.”

All four contestants were going to perform an original song, and then at the last minute, they told all four ‘No, you can’t do an original song, you have to pick another one? “Yes.”

All four had to switch their songs on Monday? “Pretty much. The day of rehearsal we made the cut for that third song.”

They didn’t tell you why they were switching it, just that it was happening? “No. There were just like ‘There’s a change, you have to do this.'”

At that point, were you just presented with songs–took what you could get? “Yeah. Pretty much. The lyrics of ‘So What’ I liked them. And I love Pink. She’s really awesome. I went with it.”

It must have been so much pressure to learn so many songs, “I try not to think about the pressure. I try to just–I guess do the unhealthy thing and bottle it all up. I really like to focus on what I do. I genuinely love to be up there. I did a Pink song. I had fire. I had fun all the same. But it’s definitely a little bit stressful to have to cram all that.”

Were the other contestants similarly kind of confused and upended by that whole thing? Were you all scrambling? “We were all like ‘Oh crap, we all have to learn another song now’.”

At the end of the show when she did her sing out song, she looked at the band like she was confused, “I had no in ears or anything, I couldn’t really hear anything. Usually there’s a click that leads into when they’re starting off. You’re right, because I believe I was in front of the grand monitors, so I was trying to listen to what part of the song they were at. I just started singing. I was like screw it, I’ll do it anyway!”

The judges really seemed to love the originals. Why not do more of them on the show? “I was going to, but then I couldn’t. It’s kind of out of my power at that point. Trust me, I would have done originals every week if I could’ve.”

Was it a question of the band learning the song? “It’s not even about that, ’cause they’re pretty easy to learn. It’s higher powers than myself. They want cover songs, like a lot of people want to hear songs that they know. It is a popular music show. As far as a singer songwriter who does a lot of their own material, the majority of the time…[I had to] kind of adjust to that.”

How did auditioning for The Voice  help her with Idol? (She had auditioned, but no chairs turned. Her audition never aired.) “It definitely got me conditioned to be in front of cameras. That’s a major part of American Idol, because you are constantly working a camera like it’s millions of people. You gotta look around and see which one is turned on and when. You have to get used to that. You gotta learn how to talk in front of a camera. It’s a lot more difficult than people think. It’s like you’re pulling everything together out of thin air right then and there, and you’ve got to say it the right way. You’ve got to do everything a certain way and not look like a fool. I would say that’s probably the biggest thing.”

How does she feel about going home to Slapout, AL and what’s next for her? “I feel really good about it. I’m leaving on a good note. I left myself on the stage. I’m really happy I did an original song. That’s me as an artist. I stayed true to myself the entire run on American Idol. It’s definitely not over for me.”

Was she surprised by how emotional she got during her final song after she was eliminated? “No. I’m a big baby. I’m always that way. I believe that I have showed emotion throughout the weeks. I’ve definitely grown as an artist. There’s always things to work on. I believe that was probably my weakest spot, but I definitely did get better. It’s going from bars where you’re not necessarily getting attention. You’re just that bar singer in the corner–the bartender listening to you– to being on a national stage where everyone’s looking at how your eye twitches. It’s a big difference, and you have to get used to it. I really do believe that I came into my own. I really figured out myself on the stage ultimately. I’m very proud of that.”

Was she frustrated that she didn’t get to sing more original songs? “I didn’t really let that frustrate me, because I do know a lot of cover songs from singing 3 to 4 hour gigs back at home. I would have really liked to do originals, at least one a week, and really get it out there and push it, just because that’s me as an artist.”

When you went into the bottom 2 and eliminated, was she surprised? Would she attribute her elimination to song choice? “I just kind of got to the point where I was ‘whatever.’ I will always do what’s right for me, and I’ll always do what I believe to be the best thing I could do put in that situation. I did that every week. That’s what matters. If I get cut, I’m going to get cut for being myself. That’s exactly what happened. That’s the best way I could go out.”

What’s the difference between going on the Idol stage, and the one woman shows she was performing in Slapout? “It’s completely different. It’s like two different planets. Because, I’m so used to doing stuff all by myself back at home. Over here, it was like I had so much help with a lot. It’s still a lot of work. It’s actually more work for me. . I think that playing in the bars and my stressful life before–it was self rewarding in that I was doing what I love. But I think it builds the necessary character to get through what I’ve been going through for the past 3 months. I wouldn’t change it. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I think it really kept my head on straight this whole time.”

Will she sing any originals on the Idol tour? “They better let me do “Blue Eyed Lie” on the tour! (laughs). I really hope so.”

Did Keith talk to her about Nashville yet? “Keith mentioned some people talking about me. I believe he was referring to my songwriting. We didn’t get into a real in-depth conversation.”

Did she feel her confidence grow every week? “I felt good every week. I really do my best, and to me that’s all that matters–that I feel good about it, and that I make my fans happy, because I’m very fan oriented. I love my fans so much. That’s rewarding to me. You take what the judges say, you take what other people say…but ultimately, it’s how you feel and how your fans are happy.”

What did it feel like to have an original song (like “Blue Eyed Lie”) get such a great reception, including the judges, people in the studios and fans at home?  “It’s so surreal, I can’t even think of words to describe it. That song is so real to me. It happened to me. I lived it. Word for word. It’s so honest, and it’s so bare and it’s my soul. It’s like taking my diary and just reading it to national TV. To hear that it has national exposure–to be on that stage and singing it is such a huge blessing for me. And for people to actually like it is just absolutely amazing. I couldn’t put it all into words if I tried.”

Has the competition felt different in the last few weeks than it did earlier in the competition as the stress levels increased? “It’s definitely more stressful. The less people there are, the higher your chance of being sent home, obviously. Also, there are only so many people to fill a two hour show. You’re doing more work. The top 4–we did so much work. We were doing so much stuff in one day–by the end of the day we were done–OK time to go to bed. (laughs). It gets more and more stressful along the way.”

Does she think playing original songs would have altered her outcome in the competition? “If I did play original songs, it probably would have changed some of the outcomes, at least for a little while. It really depends on what America wants to hear. Sometimes people want to hear something new that they’ve never heard before. Sometimes people want to hear something that they’re familiar with. It changes like the weather at times. I think it could have changed it, but I would not want anything any other way. I believe everything happens for a reason and there’s a reason that last night happened. I’m cool with it. I’m ready to move up and beyond and keep on going.”

What is next for her? “After the Idol tour, I want to collaborate with people. I want to write. I want to start putting together a CD. I want to do the graphic work for it–or at least have some part in making it. I want to see if I can get in a little bit of acting. I want to produce. I want to engineer. I want to have a studio, and be a touring artist. I want to do absolutely everything.”

Any collaborations with her fellow competitors in the works? “I would really love to collaborate with Majesty. I love Majesty!”

What does she make of the situation back in Hollywood week with the stage mom? “Just to be blunt, I really don’t care about that lady. I feel bad that she was so mean like that. I’m a strong believer–just be kind to people. Treat people the way you want to be treated. The edit they did made me look kinda snide, and I felt bad about it. I’m really not that way. I didn’t know how to handle that, so I just walked away. What do you do when somebody won’t even let you talk. I was like ‘whoa, where did this come from?’ I’ve relived it about a billion times now. It’s all good. It all happened for a reason, like I keep saying. I just hope that she’s happy. I hope that her daughter is doing well, because her daughter is a very sweet girl. I just wish the best to them.”

Why did she choose to sing Lady Gaga “You and I”? “I do love Lady Gaga. I have a very wide range of music that I love and listen to all the time. Her’s is definitely included in that. I believe that if you don’t listen to the beat and the techno part of her music, and you listen to her voice, she really has such a soulful voice. She’s so creative and good at what she does. I listened to that song and heard that potential to turn it into my own style, which is like that southern rock vibe that I did. I just had fun with it, I really did. I loved it, I loved the vocal part of it. I just ran with it.”

Did she enjoy showing off a different side of herself with the Lana Del Rey (“Summertime Sadness”), “It was definitely fun. I think it keeps your mind open. That whole thing about me sitting on the side of the box, with my leg and my tattoo showing–that was all absolutely last minute. I never did that in any rehearsals or anything. I really wanted that song to be the best that it could be.”

What would be her dream acting role? “If I could be in an episode of ‘Supernatural’, oh my goodness! Snooki was in it not long ago, she was a demon, it was funny. I love Snooki, so it was OK. I would love to be–even a creepy person in the background looking around for 10 seconds. I’d be down with that. It would just be amazing. I love that show. It’s unhealthy! It’s an obsession.”

Did anything really surprise her about Idol? “Just really, the amount of people that go into making a single performance. There’s so much behind the scenes. There’s a lot of people who go unnamed. There’s a wardrobe person, there’s a hair person, there’s a make up person. They really do so much. It’s a huge part of the performance. How you feel when you’re up there affects how you do.”

Was she a fan of the show? “I don’t really watch much TV. I watch cartoons, and I watch ‘Supernatural’.”

What would she do to make Idol better? Make the ratings go higher? “I have no idea! Honestly, sometimes things just run their course. It’s been on for what, 13 or 14 years? That’s a long time!”

What did she learn about herself in her American Idol journey? “I really learned just that the limits that you have are only the limits that you put on yourself. If you really want something, you just got to work for it. You really can do it. I went from being in a smokey bar, with pneumonia, and having to cancel shows, and really having a hard time, doing everything on my own, to being on national television with an original song. Not just one time, but two or three times now. It’s absolutely amazing.”

Which mentor (David Cook, Chris Daughtry, Adam Lambert) gave her the best advice? “They all were really critical. They all give you a perspective, and they all really teach you. It’s just very humbling to meet those people who’ve been in your shoes. Especially–Chris got cut at the same point where I just got cut. It’s really cool to be able to relate to someone on that level.”

Is there anyone she would have liked to come in as a mentor that she didn’t get to work with? “I think it would have been cool to have someone like Dierks Bentley come in and talks to everybody. He’s the same kind of artist that I strive to be. He’s a singer/songwriter/guitarist. He’s doing really well. It would have been cool.”

Will she be coming back to Slapout between now and the finale? “I have one day. And apparently, I’m getting home tomorrow at noon and leaving very early the next morning to go to New York and do more press.”

What will she do with her one day in Slapout? “It looks like I’m going to be sleeping, because I got to be in the airport all night.”

If she could go one place, where would it be? “I would go anywhere with sweet tea, immediately.”

Would she move to Nashville? “It sounds like a plan!”

Will she grand marshal the parade in Slapout this weekend? “It really depends on when my flight gets in. Right now, it’s not looking like I’m even going to make the parade. I love my hometown. They’ve done so much. They just continue to do it. They just amaze me as people.”

Did being away on American Idol affect her relationship with her boyfriend? “It did affect the relationship to the point where it didn’t work anymore and we’ve actually been apart for about a month now. I know it’s very stressful. I guess it’s just not the right time. He’s a good guy. Sometimes situation really bring out the worst in people.”

How does writing a song help her deal with heartbreak? “It teaches me how to let go and just not worry about things that you can’t control anymore. If I’m not the ass, then what do I have to worry about (laughs).”


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About mj santilli 33321 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!