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<I>American Idol</I>: The First Three Finalists Speak Out

Thanks to this new and convoluted Idol format we've found out who the first three people in the Top 12 will be, though in all likelihood we'll forget their names by the time they come back a month from now. The lucky threesome consists of Danny Gokey, Alexis Grace and Michael Sarver, all of whom were put through the rigors of a press conference call on Thursday. But not, we suspect, before some intense media training that wisely must have instructed them not to bad mouth Tatiana, or any of their other group members, lest they end up returning in the wild card round. Plus, it's not good if you are trying to get America to love you. Which Alexis Grace is certainly trying to do with her up with the people answer to the inquiry about who deserved a second chance: "That is a tough question because everybody was good in our group. I mean I would have said that could be top 12 right there." They also weren't entirely sure what was happening between now and the time that we'll see them again, and were all equally vague, but as Michael Sarver put it, "There are opinions floating around about how things should go, but they have not made it clear exactly what's next for us. So, we just kind of take it one step at a time and say, 'Yes, sir. No, sir. Yes, ma'am. No, ma'am' and go there."

As you would expect from these quickly media savvy singers, they didn't have much of interest to say... in fact Mindy had to keep throwing things at me to keep me awake and interested. Don't believe me? We found out about the impromptu prayer groups that have formed and that some of them pass the time playing bored games like Scrabble and Scattergories. And seriously, Alexis Grace even graciously answered when one kind of irritating male reporter blatantly asked her how tall she was and how much she weighed. However, there were some gems that are worth reporting on. Here's what actually captured our attention... momentarily.

At least they liked the the horror show of having their families listen to the judges' critiques.
Alexis: "Well, it was my dad that was there and his girlfriend. I really loved having them been there because it made me feel comfortable when I was singing because actually, my dad and I are in a band together back home. So, it felt like not only my dad was there, but my band member was there. So, the support was really nice there and especially when the judges gave me great critiques. I just knew my dad was so proud of me and it was an amazing moment to share with him."

Is Danny just playing the dead wife card to get votes?
Danny:
"It's only been seven months since she's passed. This is who I am. It's not that I throw it in people's faces, but I get asked about it all the time, especially like right now. I'm talking about it at this point. In a previous interview that I did today, everybody wants to hear what I have to say. It weighs on my mind a lot though because honestly, this is a sob story I don't want. I don't want this story, but it is shaping my life and it's causing hope for a lot of people knowing that it's causing hope for my life. I didn't want to live any more after she passed. So now, I have my mission set in stone of what I want to portray myself as and just who I am. I don't have to portray myself as anybody, but as far as being me, but there's a fun side to me that's going to come out. And so, people have to stay tuned in. I apologize to everybody if they feel like it's shoved down their face, but it's so fresh in my mind.

On the nuttiness that is Tatiana.
Alexis:
"Well, honestly, Tatiana and I never really talked a whole bunch just because I kind of kept to myself a little bit. But what I can tell you about Tatiana, that girl, she is determined and she is going to be something someday -- I'm telling you. She is hilarious."
Danny: "With Tatiana, you expect the unexpected. She really is a great person. I mean she wants it so bad and you see the desire and the passion in her and I think at times, that's maybe her image on TV. But yes, I maybe looked calm and cool, but I wasn't on the inside. I have family members say that I looked that way, but I have to be honest, man. On the inside, I feel kind of like a wreck.

On Simon playing favorites and saying he hoped Michael stuck around.
Michael:
"I can't deny that I think that that could have had something to do with [my place in the finals]. Simon making a plea for me on my behalf; I don't take that lightly at all. I really take a lot from that as a compliment because I appreciate compliments on my voice and my singing and things, but to be complimented on the person I am really means a lot to me. I have no doubt it had an impact and I appreciate it."

What made a longtime Idol fan who could sing finally get off the couch and audition?
Michael:
"That is a very excellent question. I've been watching Idol over the years and never felt the option to go for Idol. I believe it had to do a lot with knowing somewhere inside of me that I still had a lot of growing up to do. This year, my sister-in-law voiced her desire to try out and she said something to me and it really just hit me all of a sudden -- let's do that. We did and I made it and for some reason, it was just a moment and a right time and a right moment in my life that just fit and it never fit before. I moved on it knowing it was the right time for me and obviously, it's working out."

We weren't the only ones in shock when Jamar got cut.
Danny:
"As you can see from the show that aired it, I was mad. I had a pretty upset look on my face because I expected him to go through. If you pay attention carefully to the tapes, I even said, 'I'll see you in the top 36' after I made it through and we were talking. I mean I was just so confident that he showed his ability and what it takes to get there. And so, disappointment was completely in my mind and heart, but the thing is he received such recognition. I know it's not the end of the world for him. He has a bright future ahead of him and it doesn't stop here. It only gets better from here."

Though we might be the only ones who are still upset Jamar isn't around.
Danny:
"Well, I really can say this, and I hope you will take it the right way. At this point of the game, it's easier now. Even though I want him to be here, but I feel more emotionally stable. I wanted him to be here. I'm so thankful he was in Hollywood because in Hollywood, what people don't know is that Hollywood was very, very tough for me. I put on this face, but I was miserable on the inside. Only he knew that because I poured my heart out to him. But since Hollywood, as crazy as it sounds, but I've let go of some things that I was gripping on to so deeply. I think letting go of the toxic emotions tied to the situation has really set me free to be able to start enjoying this. It just so happens that even though he's not here, I'm at that point."

Mike White has Alexis to thank for his School of Rock royalties.
Alexis:
"Because Jack Black is awesome and it's about music. I mean it's the message and the story. I just love that movie and I could watch it over and over and over again. It's hilarious and it's timeless. I love that movie."

There are contestants willing to learn from their mistakes. Shocking.
Michael:
"I couldn't be more proud of myself and the way I sold out on that stage, and I wasn't perfect and I acknowledge that, but I gave it everything I had. The things that came to me constructive criticism-wise, I guarantee you they won't have to ask me to fix those things more than once probably. [I] take them in stride and [I] appreciate them."
Danny: "I know I can improve. I want to clean up my vocals. I notice when I'm singing I sometimes get a flat and sharp here. That really bothers me because I know that I can do a clean performance. But on the other hand, I like taking risks when I'm singing. I don't like to just be in the safe box, singing a song, but I want to, so to speak, jump off the bridge and somehow land on my feet. Sometimes, I kind of lose my footing when I'm coming back down."

And some of them are even aware of the fact that their multiple segments might have bolstered viewer voting.
Danny:
"Honestly, I do feel like that I was highlighted. There's no getting around that. I didn't do anything to get that. I can say this; I'm grateful that they would do that. I have no control over it. I know everyone's not going to like me. That goes without saying, but it's a bummer when people are just real mad about it. I had nothing to do with it and I hope people can see past that and just see that I genuinely just love to sing and that's what I want to do."
Michael: "You definitely can't deny that extra exposure helps. It definitely tells people who you are and I think that's one of the main things that we try to get across. You can't deny that it got people a little closer to me. I can believe that."

Your thoughts on these three? Or are you still too bitter about Anoop just missing out to even formulate thoughts any more?

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