- On his “Christmas Message” You Tube Clip, “That’s something that is so, like, forever ago that I used to do. It’s almost like another person ago. That’s when I was younger. It was more like an acting thing I used to do, personalities and stuff like that. I’m actually kind of shocked that they used that one. There’s more interesting ones. [He laughs.]”
- How he handles the pressure of “scandals”, “It’s just really weird. Doing something as simple as making an acting video ‘ which I did, like, so many moons ago ‘ something little like that, that was made for humor, gets blown up out of proportion and can be kind of shown as your character, and it’s not the kind of person that I am, you know what I mean? I just think it’s pretty sad that people will do that just to tear down somebody’s success. We’re all trying to be somebody in life right now, and we don’t understand why people would try to cut us down by doing things like that.”
- Did his unique personality help him, “You always want to stay true to yourself. I think the other contestants were all different, but I definitely was, like, really, really different. [He laughs.] But I wasn’t trying to be different or anything, it just came naturally.”
- On being a “role model” to young Idol fans, “I love the little fan letters that I’m getting from these little kids telling me that they admire me … for being myself and that I’ve showed them that you can be different and still be successful. … I really like to inspire those little kids that think that they can’t do anything because they’re different in ways, whether it’s sexuality or their race or anything like that. It’s fine to be yourself and be successful.”
- How he felt standing with Chikezie, “For a moment there, I thought that I was staying. Then I got this really ugly feeling, and out of nowhere, I just felt like I was going home. Then I started crying because I didn’t want to see Ramiele’s reaction. And then, I started seeing her cry a little bit, then I started crying more. Then it was just a big ol’ cryfest!”
- On being a “sassy” personality, “The way I’m on stage to Simon and Ryan are totally different to how I am with fans or with other people. That’s just my reaction ‘ it’s like sarcasm and is just the way we play around with each other. I don’t really act like that with random people on the street. It’s just more of a sarcastic, telling-off kind of talk. I just want to make that clear: I am not like that 24/7!”
- On his song choices, “They’re just the songs that stood out to me. I don’t know. If I could do something over again, I would definitely pick something else other than ”Jailhouse Rock, ” but there’s no do-overs.”
- What’s next, “I definitely want to get into TV, be like a TV personality. Get a hosting job or something ‘ I want to do something with my personality. I’ll do singing here or there, but I kind of want to do some TV stuff. Have a little show or something.”
Asia’h Epperson, Luke Menard and Kady Malloy After the Jump…
- On her initial audition, just 2 days after her dad’s death, “I just think that he was with me and God was with me and my family and friends just pushed me through it. That’s what he wanted me to do. I wasn’t gonna not go forward with my dreams because of that.”
- On tackling Whitney Houston, “…I consider myself enough of a unique artist as far as my voice and my stage performance. I didn’t think I would really be compared to [her]. It went through my head, but I didn’t second-guess myself. I went ahead and did my Whitney song, and [Simon] did compare me to Whitney: He said I was a second-rate Whitney, and I will take that any day!”
- Why she tackled the big Diva songs, “It came to my mind that they always say, ”Don’t do them.” He just told me last week, ”Don’t mess with those songs.” But I’m gonna… It was me, you know what I mean? I’m not going to change who I am. I’m just gonna do me. I felt like that song suited me. I think that the vocals were good, but I’ve sang it better. But I thought my performance [of ”I Wanna Dance With Somebody”] was great, you know? I thought that it was going to put me through, but I knew from the moment they said I was first that I was done. But I still had that little bit of hope, like, Hopefully they didn’t forget about me!”
- Was she surprised to be eliminated, “I was, but I wasn’t. I definitely think I deserved to be in the top 12. But at the same time, when they told me that I was [performing] first, I actually called my mom at that moment and was like, “Um, I think this is going to be my last time performing on this stage.” [She laughs.] She’s like, “No! Why?” I just said, “You know, I just feel that the order that I’m in is really going to affect the results.” I feel that because I had such an upbeat song that it wasn’t proper for me to be the very first person. I had to kind of look at it as if I was in the audience and I had just sat down, if I would want someone right up in my face right there in the beginning, saying, “I wanna dance with somebody!” I’d kind of be like, “Whoa, whoa, hold on! I just got here. Let me get warmed up first!” So that’s probably why: the lineup.”
- Her contemporary musical influences, “I love country music because I’m a country girl! As I started getting older, I started listening to R&B music, and that’s where my heart fell. So you would have heard me sing Joss Stone, Alicia Keys, Keyshia Cole, and Mary J. Blige. Even though Mariah Carey is my idol and I love her more than anybody in this freakin’ world, but I don’t try to sing her songs!”
- The Beatles song did she had picked for next week, “I was gonna sing “Can’t Buy Me Love.” It was gonna be awesome. I had totally switched it up. I had taken a sample beat from [DJ] Jazzy Jeff way back in the day, so it was gonna have, like, a hip-hop/R&B-type of flavor to it. It was gonna be really, really fun and original. I was really looking forward to doing that, and I know that was gonna soar me into the next round.”
- His wife appeared on the Price is Right! “I was at a taping of “American Idol, ” it was when the girls were singing, so [my wife] wasn’t able to come to the show, so her and my sister decided to go to “Price Is Right” downstairs at CBS, and she got on! They called her up, and she was the last contestant to come up, and she won the bid to come up on the show, and she played a game and she won three big prizes! And it was a week I made it through the elimination round, so that was a good week! [He laughs.]”
- What went wrong, “You know, I wouldn’t say charisma. If anything, maybe because I picked two up-tempo songs back to back. Maybe I was trying to impress them too much with energy and trying to have too much fun up on stage. Maybe not a lot of people are fans of Wham!
- What was his thought on picking the song, “I know that ”Wake Me Up” is a classic ’80s song, and that’s what I was looking for. I wanted a song I could have fun with on stage, one that would just liven things up. The song I thought of was ”Wake Me Up, ” and I have a high tenor voice ‘ I wanted to show that off also. I was able to sail on those high notes in the middle of the song. I think I accomplished what I wanted to do, it just didn’t come across to people the way I wanted it to.”
- On Simon’s criticism, “You know, he never had anything nice to say to me on camera. I wasn’t surprised by that. Ever since the first week in Hollywood ‘ he didn’t give me one compliment the whole time. I wasn’t up there trying to impress Simon, I was trying to impress the voters, because they’re the ones who put me through the first few weeks. But, you know, he did give me a really nice compliment after the show last night…He said, ”You know, you have a great look. This song didn’t really work out for you this week, but you have a great look, and I know I’m going to see you doing something on television.” So that made me feel good.”
- His best friends on the show, “[Michael Johns] and I are the two oldest in the competition ‘ we’re both 29 ‘ and then Dave Cook and Jason Yeager, who actually got eliminated last week. … Ever since day one in Hollywood, the four of us really clicked and hung out just about every day, and we called ourselves the Four Horsemen, just kind of a fun little club name that we came up with. [He laughs.] We were super-exited when all four of us made it to the top 24.
- The kind of contemporary music he would have done, “I would have loved to pull out Maroon 5-style songs. I love that style. That’s my vocal range also. Also maybe some Keane, the British band. Those are the two bands I would have gone to first.”
- What’s next, “A hosting gig, or some kind of acting ‘ whether it’s some kind of soap opera or drama. I’d also love to do Broadway someday…Jersey Boys…Frankie Valli ‘ get that high tenor in there. I love that show.”
- What went wrong, “I don’t think I really did anything wrong. I just kind of did whatever I felt. You know, I guess it wasn’t the popular vote. I stayed true to myself, and that’s what important.”
- On being “robotic”, “I couldn’t really understand, because throughout the whole thing he never really commented much on my voice, which I thought was the most important thing in a singing competition. So I thought that was kind of strange. The thing is, when I did ”Magic Man, ” I thought I showed off my personality, and I didn’t get a good comment for that. No matter what I did, I kind of got dogged for it.
- On Britney, “When I was in seventh grade, I really loved Britney so much. I grew up on Britney. I actually weighed 145, I was kind of overweight, and I was really short. I was stumpy-looking, and I wanted to lose weight. So I put in this Britney live in Las Vegas concert video, and I would stand in front of the TV and do her dance moves and sing like her every single day. I actually lost a lot of weight doing that! It’s kind of funny. Just doing that every day, I learned to dance like her. I had been playing around with her voice for a while, imitating her. She really made me want to perform a lot. She’s just such a great Entertainer. Wonderful.”
- She does other impressions, “They always want me to do Christina Aguilera and Shakira and [Rascal Flatts frontman] Gary LeVox and Cher. The most fun one for me is Britney, just because I love Britney. I’m a big fan of hers, so it’s kinda cool that I can sing like her. I entertain myself all the time with it.
- Her identity, “I could definitely do country. The thing with me is that I just love all music. Since my voice is so versatile, it’s really hard for me to pick one thing.”