On a perfect evening in Los Angeles, I put on my wedges, something I do not do too often- so you know it means something special, and I head to American Idol to interview the Top-Four remaining contestants. Considering my previous Keith Urban article receiving such notice, the contestants were excited, and I was eager to see what they had to say.
After watching a dynamic show, I met with the only remaining female, Jax Cole. Jax is known for her alternative, hip, style, and her fans often mark an X on the left of their eye as a sign of being part of her Jax Pack/ fandom. Her X tattoo is becoming a known symbol in the Idol world, and it is clearly shown in her home visit, since many people had drawn the X on their faces. Jax was wearing extremely amazing pants that were very colorful, and she was very excited about them. I asked Jax how she personally felt about her performances that night, and she told me that she had a lot of fun. She said she gave it her all and feels as though she left it all out on the stage. She mentioned that it was not perfect, but that she will never be perfect. She said, “I enjoyed rocking it out.” Jax frequently refers to the terms rocking, rock-star, and any rock-related words. Her vocabulary only added to her persona, and she was adorable.
I asked her what it was like to go back home fore the hometown visit. The first thing she said was, “oh my gosh…” with a slight smile, representing her appreciation and joy of her current lifestyle. She said that going home was crazy and mind boggling, and that it did not feel like reality. She explained that the last time she was home, she was a completely normal girl who walked her dog down the street to get burritos. But, that now she can barely get out of a car without screaming fans wanted to meet her. She said, “It punched me in the heart,” another Jax vocabulary word adding to her personality. I asked her who her biggest competitor was, and to my surprise, she said it is herself. “I am my own biggest competitor. All I wanna do each week is improve and keep going!” Inspiring words from the wonderful and talented Jax.
I told her that I write for the Los Angeles Times High School Insider, and I asked her if she had any advice for high schoolers trying to pursue their dreams. Her response was wonderful, and she alluded to one of my favorite bards, M. Scott Peck when she said, “I say that it’s okay to take the road less traveled.” She said that it is important to embrace every part of yourself and to never ever stop fighting. These words inspired me, personally, to pursue my dreams, despite how crazy they seem, because as Jax stated earlier, she went from being a completely normal girl, to an Idol in a short span of a few months.
After interviewing Jax, I next spoke to Rayvon Owen, who unfortunately was eliminated that night. (Sorry if you still have not watched this week, spoiler alert!). Rayvon was dressed in the most amazing purple colored velvet jacket, looking ever like a smooth, charismatic balladeer. When I asked him about how he feels he did in his performances that night, he said he felt really good. He said that his performances were “a good reflection of how far I’ve come and everything I’ve learned.” He was genuinely smiling ear to ear, and was utterly positive and wonderful in every way possible. I asked about comparing the two worlds, after he went back home and returning to American Idol. He stuttered for a moment, trying to find the right words to say, then he said, “I felt like a winner- and I still do even now.” He said that seeing everyone he loves made him want to push hard to make them proud, and he knows he did.
For anyone who watches American Idol weekly, you would know about Rayvon’s mom, and how much she loves him. She supports him through everything, and that must be what makes Rayvon such a happy, optimistic person that can light up any room he walks in to. When I asked who his biggest competitor was, he said that it was everybody. “Everybody is so good.” He expressed that everyone are incredible artists and musicians. He said “it’s like apples to oranges, too hard to compare!” He also said that a big competitor is himself. He said when he looks back each week, he wanted to improve himself. Since he was sadly eliminated that night, I asked him what is next for him. He explained that. He has the finale, then he gets to go on tour with Tyanna Jones and the other remaining three Idols, and that he is extremely excited. He said that he wants to thank everyone for supporting him so that he can go sing and do what he loves. He is excited to go sing without the pressure of a competition. After tour, he wants to go back to writing music since he has so much to write about, and then he wants to hopefully record an album. Rayvon was such a nice, positive guy who never stopped flashing his genuine smile, and I will surely miss him on Idol, but I am utterly thankful to have talked to such an amazing guy.
Then, I talked to Clark Beckham, dressed in a dapper suit. I asked him how he felt about his performance and he said he felt very good. He said that based off of feeling, he thinks he killed it, but that he will have to watch it back to truly see how he did. “Sometimes I will feel as if I killed it, then I’ll watch it back and be like eh.” And vise versa. He said that often the feeling is accurate, but sometimes it is not. He told me that he is very proud of the production, because he arranged the last couple measures. I told him I have been studying music theory, and that I know how difficult it is to do that.
Then, we bonded over music theory as he explained to me exactly how he arranged the chords and measures. It gave me an extreme amount of respect because I can understand how difficult it is to do that. His music theory literacy was astounding. He was happy to be able to talk about music to me, since most reporters just ask questions unrelated to musical theory. He was very excited and it was adorable! When I asked him what it was like to go back home he said it was “beneficial.” He said that when he went home, there were no cameras and he felt relaxed and it allowed his true personality to shine through. He said that like Harry said, they come out and sing, and that’s all America knows about them. He explained the term “Idol Land” to me, which is what they call their home in American Idol. He was happy to get his personality back and he said he got freedom back and was able to bring back his true personality to Idol Land.
I asked him who his biggest competitor is and he said it is himself. He does not think about being better than anyone. He told me that John Wooden, a previous UCLA basketball coach inspires him and is one of the best sports coaches ever. He always talks about the idea of doing the best you can, and if you win, that’s a byproduct of doing the best you possibly can. Somehow, the conversation about this coach led to us talking about his degree in history. He told me about his love of history, which I found insane since history is such a difficult class for me. He said that he wants to be a history teacher because he wants to teach students through stories instead of facts. He said that everyone would enjoy history if they had the right teacher, who would explain the story to them and then they would remember the facts through the story. I found this wonderful, and I hope Clark does become a history teacher, after his music career of course, because he will inspire so many kids to enjoy learning. I deeply enjoyed talking to Clark since we were able to have conversations about things outside of journalism questions, and I felt that he appreciated that he could speak about his love of music theory and history. I respect his performance so much not just because his singing is beautiful, but because of the fact that he arranged the chords, that is amazing.
The last contestant I talked to was the teen-heartthrob, Nick Fradiani. I asked him about how he felt he did tonight, and I expected an obvious good reply since Keith Urban was so into it, unlike I have ever seen before, rocking out and singing along. Nick immediately said “awful.” And I dropped my jaw in surprise. Then he laughed, and said “just kidding!” I was relieved and I laughed along. Then he said that he felt great on all three performances and that he was pretty happy. But then he explained that adrenaline always plays a part and makes him feel really good, so he wants to watch them back. He said that his last performance was his favorite and that it is good it was his last one because he wants to leave a lasting impression.
When I asked him about going home, he said it was crazy. He said that he lives in the “Idol Bubble.” He said that going home was weird because in the Idol Bubble, everyone is experiencing the same thing, so they all understand each other, but that at home not everyone understood, but that he was extremely happy to go home again. He said that everyone in the Idol Bubble went from musicians that nobody knew, to musicians who everybody knows, which is odd. He said it is too hard to explain, and that it is something you can only understand when you live it.
Then he mentioned that he heard Clark talking about the actual chords and laughed about it, since reporters would have no idea what that is. But then Clark told him that I’m studying music theory, and Nick understood more and felt compelled to talk to me about that. I asked him who his biggest competitor is, and he said that at this point, and in the previous couple weeks, that none of the contestants had any idea who was going home, so he has no idea who his biggest competitor is. He said that nobody is ahead in anyway. He told me that he would be happy if he won, if Clark won, or if Jax won because they have all worked so hard and they all deserve it. He was cracking jokes the whole time, and making silly remarks, he was a really fun and engaging guy. It was an awesome experience.
I highly appreciate the opportunity I received in being able to interview the top four. They were all absolutely amazing people, and they are each so unique that I can’t explain it. However, as a writer, I will attempt to explain. Jax has an alternative style, but her personality is kind and you can clearly see that she is a great supporter to those around her. Rayvon is probably the most happy, optimistic person I have ever spoken to, and his bright smile literally made me feel happy. Clark is a deep person who thinks through things and works hard to be the best he can be. He challenges himself and tries new things. Nick is a funny person who makes everyone laugh and feel more comfortable. One thing that they all have in common is diligence and work ethic. The respect I have for these contestants, judges, and everyone associated with the show is out of this world. I recommend to everyone of any age to watch this show and experience what I got to experience first hand. This unique group of people is something you will not want to miss on the finale next week. So make sure to tune in next Tuesday, May 12 and Wednesday, May 13 to Fox to learn which of these amazing singers will be the next American Idol!