Kristen O’Connor on What She Learned from Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry and More

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Reporters had the opportunity to interview newly eliminated American Idol XIII contestant, Kristen O’Connor today. She talked about some of the technical difficulties she encountered, taking advice from production about song choice, the things she learned from Idol mentors, Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert, and more.

What is the most important piece of advice she’s received from her experience on Idol? “Something Jennifer Lopez said to me last night. It’s so important to be yourself and to stick to what you know. Be authentic. That’s when you really shine. My best performances have been when I’ve just been the most myself.”

What kind of music would she like to put out? “It will definitely be an original sound. I see myself as an R&B pop, soulful singer. I love soulful, sultry music.”

Why did she take her in-ear monitor out during her performance this week? “All my rehearsals, everything was great. While I was singing there was a click track that was playing though the in-ear monitor like a metronome. It was off beat–I think it might have been for someone else’s song. It was really loud–louder than all of the instrumentals, it was louder than my vocal. It was extremely distracting. I had to take it out just to get through the song. I think I pushed through it. I think the performance showed that.”

Was singing a Kelly Clarkson song a mistake? “I had taken advice from production and people on the show. Although I did come to agree with them that it was a good choice. When I sang the song for my vocal coaches and for Randy Jackson and for the executive producers, they all told me it was a great choice. I felt confident with it. I don’t regret doing it. I wish I had gotten the chance to show America a little bit more with my guitar. That’s more who I am. America only saw one side of me.”

What strengths and weaknesses did she discover about herself as an artist during the process? “I’m definitely my biggest critic. Sometimes the judges would praise me, and then say one little thing that would be negative, and that would be the thing that I would latch on to. Focusing on negatives a little bit too much is one of my weaknesses. I’m a perfectionist. One of my strengths, was that I had a really strong voice. Chris Daughtry said I was his favorite of day I sang for him. Randy Jackson, when I sang “Beautiful Disaster” for him, he was like ‘Wow! I didn’t know you could sing like that!’. I’ve gotten a lot of really awesome compliments on my vocals.”

Was she surprised to be eliminated? “I did have a feeling it might happen. I was a wild card the week before. I felt that if I didn’t have a strong performance, that there was a chance I would be going home because America hadn’t voted me in. I felt like I really needed to win them over. Although I felt I had a good performance, I didn’t think it was the one that was going to win over America. Of course, I was disappointed. I know that I really do have what it takes. Production and everyone there–I think that they were disappointed too.”

Did she expect the judges would use their save? Did she find out how they voted? “I didn’t expect them to use the save no matter who it was that night.  I don’t think it’s ever happened where they used it that early in the competition. Because they had already taken a chance on me once, I did not expect them to use the save on me. The judges really didn’t give me an explanation. I don’t blame them. They have a whole season left. When it gets up to those really top numbers, the save will be more useful then. The judges all came up to me after the show and had some really nice encouraging words for me. I can tell they believe in me.”

What did she and Malaya say to each other as they waited in the bottom 2? “Before the show even started, Malaya and I were talking, we discussed that we thought it was going to be the two of us standing there. Both of us had struggled with the song choices. We both kind of took advice from production. One of the things I really learned from all of this…it’s really important to stick to who you are. Every time someone strays from that…they get, not their best performance. We weren’t surprised to be standing there. We were holding on to each other and saying ‘no matter what happens, we’re going to stay friends.’ She’s an awesome girl.”

Could they tell they’d be in the bottom 3? “We felt there was a good chance. MK, I think it was a shock to her. It was a shock to me for her to be in the bottom 3. I think it’s unpredictable at this point. It can change week to week.”

Which contestants was she close to? “I got so close to everyone. Emily and I got pretty close because she was from Orlando. All of our plane rides to and from LA we rode together every time. My roommate was Jess Meuse. She and I got close. I got close with Sam, because he was my group member in Hollywood week. He’s awesome. MK and I got pretty close. Everyone I feel a really close connection with. I know all of us are going to keep in touch, without a doubt.”

What’s next for Kristen? “I’m keeping my options open. I want to continue to pursue music. I want to make an album. I’m excited to get in the studio and start writing. I’m interested in anything that this can bring for me, if it opens a door to musicals, or Broadway, or acting–anything like that, I’m definitely interested.”

How hard was it for Kristen to leave everyone? “Last night when I went back to where we were staying, I was just thinking ‘even if I’m not on the show, I wish I could just stay and be here with these people and experience the rest of this with them’ because I’ve gotten so close with them. Being outside the competition, I’m really rooting for them. I’m rooting for everyone. They’re so talented! I remember one night on one of our off nights, everyone was just playing guitar, and singing. I remember taking it all in and being like ‘these are some of the most talented people in the country.’ I’m just so blessed to be a part of it. More than one person from every season is extremely successful. I’m really excited to see how it’s all going to play out.”

Was it helpful to work with Idol alums, Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry in the Idol boot camp? “Oh my God! Yes. Absolutely. I think that that was so beneficial. I learned so much. I had a really long interview with Adam Lambert. It was just kind of a relaxed interview. I asked him, ‘How do you deal with the things people say about you on the internet? Because I know you dealt with that.’ He was like ‘Oh girl, you know I did!’ There was a lot of controversy about him when he was on the show. He was like, ‘Kristen, you just can’t read that stuff. People are going to say things, they do it to everyone.’ It’s hard, because up until this point, most of us have never really experienced anything like that. That advice was definitely helpful for me. He helped me with song choices. Just giving me…the way that he approached choosing songs.

Chris Daughtry…he played us an acoustic song. We had a little jam session. It was awesome. I had chills. It was amazing. I had the highlight of my life when I got to sing for him. He loved it! He was really excited about it. After I sang, him and the staging director were both ‘Oh my God, we don’t even need to help you! You just killed it!’ I’m sad that America didn’t see that. Everyone behind the scenes, I felt like they really did. It’s such a bummer. He had some really good advice for me…like staging and the movement I was working on…how to take the microphone off the stand–a better way to do that, more fluidly. Honestly, I feel like I learned so much, so much from them. Also he [Chris] said ‘Do not be that guy. If it’s not your personality to hold up your number, don’t do it. You’re going to regret it. If it’s not you, don’t do it!’ It’s awesome to hear things from them. And he talked about his first audition, and going back to watch it. ‘Simon gave me so much crap when I sang…then I didn’t understand it. And now when I go back and watch it. The only thing that was good about this was they way I sounded. If you close your eyes. Everything about it wasn’t good.’ He was talking about how much he had learned from his experience. I can relate so much.”

What was her favorite moment of the season? “After I sang ‘Turning Tables’ during Rush week. The judges gave me some phenomenal comments. I think I had some of the best of the night. I felt amazing. Jennifer Lopez told me ‘I could see you recording records tomorrow.’ Keith commented on my range. The moment that’s going to stick with me is when I was singing that song and the energy in the crowd. Just that feeling of singing in front of people that love you. That feeling. That’s what I live for. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

America didn’t see a great side of Jess Meuse in Hollywood Week. Since you roomed with her, what can you tell us about her? “We were all surprised by the way that was all shown. She’s my roommate. She is so sweet. I think they were kind of giving her that ‘hard look’ kind of thing. Hollywood Week is no joke. Hollywood week is extremely stressful. Some people got dealt a bad hand. She was one of those people. She ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time quite a few times for her. She’s definitely not about the drama. She’s a sweetheart. She’s a great roommate, a true musician. She’s a nice girl.”

Did she audition for the American Idol experience in her hometown, Orlando? “I never did. I had been to that park only just once, when the attraction was open. A couple of the girls that are in the Top 12 they did do that. Majesty and Emily.”

About mj santilli 30860 Articles
Founder and editor of mjsbigblog.com, 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!