Phil Stacey did a lot of time in the bottom three this season, but he always seemed to survive. His good luck ended Wednesday, however, when he was one of two contestants eliminated from "American Idol."
After the show charitably spared all six hopefuls during last week's "Idol Gives Back" special (see " 'Idol' Serves Up Charity-Night 'Shocker': Everyone Stays"), the 29-year-old husband and father of two from Jacksonville, Florida, went out in a "Blaze of Glory" along with Chris Richardson (see "Chris Richardson Addresses Simon Spat, Lauren Conrad Rumors") during Bon Jovi week (see "Phil And Chris Exit In 'Idol' Elimination Two-Fer" and " 'Idol' Recap: Blake's Brave Choice Is 'Brilliant'; Jordin Is 'Criminally Heinous' ").
We caught up with the Navy band singer on Thursday (May 3) to talk about his country-music aspirations, his military career and why bald is beautiful.
Q: Since you've been away from your family for so long, did part of you actually want to leave?
A: I wanted to win! ... Inevitably, the bubble could have burst for me had I stayed any longer, but I'm excited about spending more time with my family. I miss my girls really bad.
Q: Were you ever surprised by the judges' reactions?
A: My big surprise came during country week. I'm definitely more in my comfort zone in country music, but I'd grown so accustomed to getting very critical feedback, so when Randy was like, "Dude! You were good this week!" I was like, "Really? Sweet!"
Q: Who do you think the front-runner is now?
A: I think that the four people that are left have individual strengths that set them each apart. I think Blake is most likely the most original contestant ever on "American Idol." He just blew it out this week with Bon Jovi; he was incredible. Melinda is possibly the greatest singer I've ever heard on the show. LaKisha sings with so much passion that it's hard to listen to [her] and not get chills. And Jordin has got a range that lasts for days, and her upper notes just have so much power behind them. Honestly, I think it's anybody's ballgame at this point. I'm going to be really looking forward to how it goes from here on out.
Q: Is there a chance that you won't get to go on tour because of your commitments to the Navy?
A: My primary responsibility is to the United States Navy. The possibility exists that they'll need me for a mission, and if that's the case, I'm committed to following through with my commitment to the Navy. ... They've been 100 percent flexible with me, with "American Idol." They've been gems and a huge support base for me. I give the Navy all the props in the world for letting me do what I've done to this point. The last that I spoke with my commanding officer, things looked very promising for me to be able to go on the tour, so I'm not really worried about it at this point. It would break my heart to not go on the tour, but at the same time, I've got a duty.
Q: What songs would you like to sing on tour?
A: The "Idol Gives Back" [show] has really changed my life, and I think that one thing that I want to do is be a positive influence on people and a role model of sorts. I think as a Navy guy, I'd like to go out and do something patriotic, maybe. Something like "God Bless the USA" or something to represent the Navy and just kind of be a unifying factor for us as Americans.
Q: What was the best decision you made on the show?
A: To go into it with a positive outlook ... I think that a lot of people started liking me more as a person when they saw that I was truly grateful to be there. Because, you know, being in the bottom three several weeks in a row could be considered hard on a person, but my outlook was that 103,000 people auditioned for this and I was so blessed to be there.
Q: Why does the bald look work for you?
A: It was unique. It wasn't something that anybody else had this particular season. If I was on last year and it was between me and Chris Daughtry being the bald guy, I don't know that it would've gone so well for me.
Q: You couldn't convince Blake or Chris to do it?
A: Well, you know, I did convince Blake. That whole time he's been wearing a wig, but you didn't hear that from me.
Q: What's next for your Navy career?
A: It's tough to say, really. I can't say a single bad thing about my time in the Navy. ... But I didn't enlist with the idea of a career in mind. I enlisted to do my duty and be a part of what was happening in the war against terror. I was gonna do the first term and then move on. Especially with this kind of exposure ... I think I could do a lot more from my perspective if I went out and released music.
Q: Your wife was always in the audience supporting you. Did she get a lot of support from other Navy wives and your fans?
A: She's gotten some e-mails on MySpace and some of the blogs have been very positive. I'm not deployed right now and I'm not doing something in a dangerous zone, but in a way, she represented those who stood as a support for [the military]. I thought it was very ironic that during my video montage — they've played "Home" by Chris Daughtry for every single person, except for me they played [Carrie Underwood's version of the Pretenders'] "I'll Stand by You." All I could think of was my wife and how she stood by me and has been exactly what the song says.
Q: Did your Navy friends tease you or applaud you for being on the show?
A: I got a lot of support from my Navy buddies. Upfront, they made fun of me because I went to the audition to begin with. They joked about how I was wasting my time. At the same time, when they were being serious, they said they believed in me. Every single week they would text me messages like, "Phil, you're my Idol!"
Q: You got a lot of praise for your country-week performance. Is that the genre you want to pursue a career in?
A: I'm grateful that you can ask that question, because it means that I've shown that I'm an eclectic artist. But definitely the music that I write is country music and gospel music. I don't know which path God will put me on, but I'll definitely follow the doors that are open for me.