Chris Sligh dishes about 'American Idol,' sticking to his roots, more
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/30/2007
Chris Sligh may have never had any intentions of winning American Idol's sixth season and even considered dropping out at one point, but the 28-year-old Greenville, SC native said he still felt he attained his goal for the competition.
"It was tough because I felt like the last couple of weeks I was starting to get back in my groove, and then I go home. But it's all good. I'm looking forward to seeing what doors open up from here on out," Sligh told reporters during a Thursday conference call.
"It comes down to this; I made the Top 10, that was my goal. I wanted to make the tour. I wanted to be able to do making music for my living, so I don't have to work at the marketing company that I was working at. I made the Top 10 and that was my goal. Ultimately, that's all that matters. It doesn't matter who is going to place ahead of me. What matters is the fact that I reached the goal that I really wanted to make."
Sligh said one of the aspects of Idol that "frustrated" him was the fact all six songs he performed upon making the Top 24 "were risks in one way or another," which he thought was "ignored" by judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell.
"Really the judges never commented on my voice, which I think was a little bit frustrating for me. At least say, 'You have great vocals, but I didn't like the arrangement.' It was never that," said Sligh. "I understand that it's a TV show, and it's a reality show. American Idol is the number one TV show on the planet for a reason. They know how to make it. It can be political, but at the same time, it's a TV show and you understand that. So I wasn't surprised at getting voted off at all."
Quickly adding he didn't want to "disrespect" the show, Sligh said he eventually came to a realization that was difficult for him to initially acknowledge.
"I think that for me, I started to realize that in order to win this competition I think that I would have had to make song choices that I really didn't want to make... I think that what happens is that we get a list of songs to choose from, and there's the obvious choices that I could chose," explained Sligh. "There are those pop standards that would show off the fact that I have a big voice. I specifically stayed away from those songs. I think, honestly, that that's kind of what hurt me."
Since he comes from a job in the world of marketing, Sligh wasn't shy about revealing different aspects of Idol he would change to make the show more appealing to viewers and contestants alike.
"There's a couple of things that I wish that they would change about the show. Number one is, I wish that they would let songwriters sing their songs on the show. I had worked really hard to do one of my originals during the semifinals and it just didn't work out," said Sligh.
He added that during the semifinals he spoke with Idol executive producers Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe about possibly performing an original song, but said they basically told him, "We just don't think that America is really for it. Why don't you chose another song?"
"It was one of those things where they were trying to figure out... Nigel and Ken are great at what they do," he said. "They have the number one show in the world for a reason, and I think that they felt like America just wasn't ready for an original yet. That was the next step. I have my opinion on that. I thought that maybe America is not given enough credit. They just decided that they didn't think America was ready for it yet."
Sligh then stated he agreed with something that previous Idol finalists Chris Daughtry and Taylor Hicks had already given their opinions on.
"I wish that they would let people play instruments," said Sligh, explaining why he thinks it would have helped him with his performance of "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" during the Top 10. "That was the biggest thing for me that was really tough was not being able to play. I honestly have never had rhythmic difficulties in my whole life as a musician. I think a lot of it has to do with this is the first time I had ever sung without a guitar. I guess I didn't realize how much my rhythm was tied in with my hands playing a guitar."
Sligh said he is also an avid blogger, but couldn't continue the popular practice during his time on Idol due to specific production rules.
"There are secret parts of the show that they don't want to get out, and that's the reason why they keep the blogs down. But I think it would be an interesting read to just see the day to day, what people go through," said Sligh. "We work seven days a week and 10-15 hours a day, and not all of that is stuff that America doesn't need to know about, and that it's going to take away from the show. So I wish that they would allow us to blog. But at the same time, they're trying to protect their interest, so I can kind of understand that."
While he couldn't post anything new on his blog, Sligh said he was still receiving messages, and not all of them were from well wishers.
"People were telling me that they hoped that I would die because I told Simon I didn't sound like Teletubbies. So it kind of freaked me out because people take American Idol very, very seriously," he said. "I would hope that people would realize that me joking around about the show is very, very tongue and cheek because if I'm joking around about the show, it's something that I'm in, and taking part of and I can't be too upset with American Idol if they're making me famous."
It was when he started to receive the "hate mail" that contained "horrible, horrible things" which eventually led Sligh to start to get "scared" and lose a bit of his sense of humor.
"I kept my mouth shut for three weeks," he said, adding he thought his silence didn't make much of a difference and the damage had already been done. "Here's the thing with American Idol. I have figured this out because of the unique position that I was in, it's funny because I love the show, but at the same time there are some cheesy aspects that I poked fun at. There are people who love the show so much that anything that is said bad about the show, or especially if you say something bad about Simon, for instance as I did and got screwed for it."
While he's aware there are still some aspects of the show he won't be able to blog about, Sligh said he fully intends to let his fans know about his Idol experience.
"Obviously, they have some things that they don't want me to talk about, but now that I'm able to blog again it will be very, very cool," said Sligh. "I'm planning on blogging that my band has their album that came out a little bit ago. And I'm going to be blogging about that and how excited I am about the album and how excited I am to be back with Half Past Forever. Also, how excited I am to be back with my wife."
Sligh said his indie-rock band Half Past Forever actually supported his Idol journey, which might have never happened otherwise.
"I think that they saw the opportunities that were good. We had actually gotten some record label interest before we came on the show. Actually two days after I made it through [my initial audition], we got contacted by a very large player in the industry, who I'll leave nameless for right now. But he contacted us and he was like, 'Dude, drop out of American Idol. I can get your band signed within a month,'" revealed Sligh. "I was like, 'I just don't think I can take a chance on doing this.' Actually, the band was really supportive. They thought the same thing. If I make it on American Idol, it could be huge. So being in the Top 10 is great because I get to get the financial reward of going on the tour, while at the same time being able to stay true to my roots and go back to my band and do the things that I really want to do."
As for spending time with his wife, Sligh said in that regard being eliminated from Idol was a victory of sorts.
"Actually it was kind of funny. [Fellow finalist Phil Stacey] and his wife, Kendra, came over to my wife and I [after the results show] and gave us a round of applause. They were like, 'You guys are so lucky,'" said Sligh. "It's nice because I made the tour, but at the same time I get to go home and have a little bit of a vacation. Obviously, I would have loved to do better, but there is a little bit of a sense of relief because, honestly, I really did not enjoy taking pop songs that sound great at four minutes and trying to stuff them into a minute and a half."
Sligh added he was happy to see Stacey for another reason too.
"I had told Phil that I was going home and he was like, 'No way. There's no way that you're going home before me,'" said Sligh. "And I said, 'Dude, I bet you $50 I'm going home.' So he took me up on it and I won."
While he always took the judges' comments with a grain of salt, Sligh said he didn't want to be "one of those arrogant little jerks who thinks that they're always right."
"What I wanted to do is figure out if what [the judges are] saying is true. And if it's not completely true, maybe it's partly true, and this is what I need to fix next week when I go in," said Sligh. "I think that definitely Simon, even though he says the most outrageous things, usually he's the most honest. Although, Randy has been pretty harsh this year, too. But Simon usually is the one who I value his opinion the most, even though I think that he was the one who was definitely the hardest on me this year."
Harking back to the song choices that he feels at least partially contributed to his ousting, Sligh reiterated the tunes he chose "were more for me than for anybody else."
"I wanted to go away and be able to say, 'This is the kind of record that I would make.' I feel like all of the songs that I did, the six songs that I did, are songs that I would not mind making a record with," he said. "It was one of those things where, like I said before, I think that a lot of my songs were risky choices, and it's unfortunate for me that the choices didn't pay off. But at the same time, this is the most exposure that I could have ever imagined. I tried out on a whim for American Idol back six or seven months ago, and here I am No. 10 out of a hundred something thousand people that tried out. That's an amazing, amazing accomplishment that I feel like I should be very, very proud of."
And for those Idol fans who can't get enough of Sligh, you'll be able to see him again during the May 23 Idol 6 finale, although you may not recognize him.
"Bringing chubby back was something I said back before I started to really, really lose weight," explained Sligh. "That was back at the Top 24 when I made that, which was a long, long time ago. So I started losing weight pretty hard after that, and I've lost about 30 pounds, and I'm actually planning on losing some more weight. I think that when I get back to the finale, I'm hoping that everyone will be surprised that it's the same Chris Sligh."
(Photo credit Fox)
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