Todrick Hall stumbled a bit during his first "American Idol" live performances, but he seemed to hit his stride with a bombastic version of Queen's "Somebody to Love" this week.
Unfortunately, the "Idol" viewers repaid him by sending him on his way Thursday night, along with Lilly Scott, Alex Lambert and Katelyn Epperly. We caught up with Hall on Friday (March 12) to talk about why he was eliminated, how he got sucked into the rumor mill and what's next.
Q: Were you surprised to be eliminated after your best live performance?
A: I feel like I should have done that a couple weeks earlier. The problem is, I'm an African-American male, as you call tell from watching me on TV. [Laughs.] ... I got so many messages saying, "Sing Usher. Sing Chris Brown. Sing Brian McKnight. Sing Ne-Yo, Stevie Wonder, any black artist basically that you can sing, because that's your demographic." But that's not the kind of music that I want to sing, so I'm happy that I stayed true to myself, but I kinda feel if I had just sang the cookie-cutter songs that people would have expected me to do and not gone so far out there with the clothes and the performing and would have just been a normal guy that got up there and sang semi-decent, I feel like I would have done better. But I'm happy that I stayed true to myself, because I think that is the most important. I would not have been happy doing anything else.
Q: Do you think your theater background worked against you on the show?
A: I do honestly feel that way, and it's sad to say, but when people know certain things about you, it's kinda hard to shake those things. But I just told someone today that I feel if Lady Gaga, who is one of the most successful artists out right now, if she was on "American Idol," I don't think that they would have good things to say about her. ... I do think that they want you to be out of the box and they kept telling me that I was changing things too much, but I would hear them tell people they're not changing enough and not making it their own. You have to try and find that line of when is it not changing it too much and when is it being too cookie-cutter and being a karaoke version, which sometimes they're OK with and sometimes they're not. I feel like I was true to myself, and I feel I'll be rewarded for being different in the end.
Q: What did you do after your elimination?
A: I just took a deep breath and thought, "What do I do next? Pick yourself up." I've grown up in theater, and I always know there are no's. ... I was more concerned about Alex and some of the people who had not necessarily gone through this.
Q: There have been a lot of online reports about you being involved in a scam surrounding "Oz, the Musical." Can you explain that?
A: I'm so glad that I can talk about it now. It wasn't a good time to talk about it when I was on "American Idol," because I just needed to focus on the show, but I do want everybody to know, I'm not a scam artist. I am a nice person. No 23-year-old that I know in the history of the world has ever had to put on a show, and I think if they think about that, they'll realize I'm just an ambitious kid that got wrapped up with a producer that didn't really know what he was doing. I didn't really know what I was doing. I allowed my name to be attached to it, but I'm gonna get on the phone on Monday and hopefully call a lot of those people, because I do want to go there, and I love kids, and I wouldn't want people to think negatively of me in that way, and I think the show is going to happen again and that we'll be able to fix that situation. And there won't be no more negative press. Just for the record, I was just the writer and director/choreographer. I did not produce that show. I never had any of that money. I never dealt with any of the money side of the show.
Q: Did you know what you would sing for the Rolling Stones theme week?
A: I was gonna sing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction." I was gonna dance for the very first time. They kept yelling at me for dancing, then Ellen, the very last week, said, "I think you should dance," so I was going to be the first contestant to actually do a dance break, like Crystal Bowersox does her harmonica type of thing and the guitar and people have beatboxed. But no one ever danced, and I was looking forward to doing that.
Were you sad to see Todrick go? Will you listen to his post-"Idol" music? Let us know!
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