It's hard to say a bad word about "American Idol" wannabe Michael Sarver. Even Simon Cowell cushioned his critiques of the 27-year-old father's singing with comments about what a great guy he is.
But America's good will toward the oil-rig roughneck ended with his performance of the Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" during Motown week, and he was sent packing the next night.
We talked with the singer from Jasper, Texas, on Friday (March 27) about the judges' influence over America, whether he was relieved to be going home and much more.
Q: The judges deliberated for quite awhile after you sang during the results show. Did you think they were going to use their "save" on you?
A: I actually didn't think they would save me. I really appreciate the fact that they considered it based on my performance the second night and how they complimented that. It meant a lot to me to, in a sense, redeem myself from suffering through a hard night. And they did consider it, but I felt like it wasn't gonna happen, mostly based on Simon's previous comments the night before about not really feeling like I could win the show.
Q: Were you insulted that Simon said that?
A: It didn't necessarily tick me off, nor did it insult me, but it kind of made me giggle, because he knows better than that. We didn't get there by mistake. We're all very talented. I believe in my talent, and I believe in myself and what I have to offer the music world. And I definitely would not have been surprised if I had gone back to the mansion with the guys that night and been on next week. It's any given week, and I'm very proud of what I brought to that table.
Q: How much influence do you think the judges have over the voters?
A: I believe that what the judges say has a huge impact on America. America listens to what they have to say. Number one, they're in those four seats for a reason, and that's because they know what they're talking about. And America knows that. I'm not saying that they always get it right. And I have to be honest with you: I don't really think they got it right all the time. There were a few good points, but I don't think they got it altogether right on me the other night. But the bottom line is, they are smart. They know their stuff. They're very talented in their own right, and America listens and pays attention. And that's why "American Idol" is as successful as it has been.
Q: Does it ever bother the contestants when the judges goof off during the show?
A: Personally, I enjoy that. People need to understand that this is supposed to be a fun thing. It's supposed to be enjoyable. It's supposed to be the time of our lives. And they help make it that way by goofing around, like Simon coloring on Paula's face — that was absolutely hilarious. It does make it complicated sometimes when you may feel like they're not really listening to you, but overall, the fun that they're having on the show makes everybody smile, and that's what entertainment is all about.
Q: You seemed almost happy after your elimination. Was part of you relieved to be going home?
A: There was a smile because of the idea that, "I'm going home." I'm not relieved, because there's nothing to relieve me from. I was there on my own accord, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. But once I found out I was going home, the best part of it is that I have an incredible family to go home to. I couldn't be more excited to find myself on that plane heading that direction.
Q: Kara made a comment on Wednesday that she didn't know what kind of artist you were. Do you think you showed America what kind of artist you'll be?
A: I really do actually feel like I showed that, number one, I'm not as country as people thought, and number two, that there's a lot of soul in me. And I'm a soul singer. It doesn't matter if you mix soul with rock, pop or R&B — there's soul. I believe I established that, and I believe that I established that I'm the type of artist that will not only work my tail off to do what I do, but that I never give less than 110 percent when I'm performing, and I believe I showed that.
Q: What kind of music do you see yourself making?
A: It's definitely going to be an R&B, pop, soul album. There's such a mixture of influence in my life, but I really like the R&B/pop style of Justin Timberlake, and it has a lot to do with the way that I write, all the way across the aisle to Gavin DeGraw and bringing some of that soulful rock.
Q: Is songwriting something you did before the show?
A: There is something that America does not know so much about me, but they're gonna find out. I am a serious writer, and I've written over 890 songs since the age of 14. There's a lot of stories, a lot of hard-lived life, good-lived life, and my happiness that I experience in my life now all through my music, and I'm gonna share it.
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