Colton Dixon: I hoped my 'American Idol' elimination was a bad dream
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/20/2012
Colton Dixon was eliminated from American Idol during Thursday night's live results show broadcast on Fox, which determined its Top 6 eleventh-season finalists.
Colton, a 20-year-old from Murfreesboro, TN, became the seventh finalist sent home from American Idol's eleventh season after he received the fewest home viewer votes following Wednesday night's performance show, which featured the Top 7 finalists each performing two songs, with the first being a No.1 hit from the year 2000 to present and the second being a soul song from back in the day.
During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Colton talked to Reality TV World about his American Idol experience -- including what was going through his mind prior to the announcement of his elimination and what his thoughts were on the "girl power" turnaround this season appears to have experienced.
Reality TV World: Both you and Hollie Cavanagh seemed shocked when Ryan Seacrest announced you'd be the one going home, especially since you had never been in the bottom three before prior to last night's show. So what was going through your mind leading up to that announcement and then what were you thinking immediately afterwards?
Colton Dixon: I had a feeling I was in the bottom three, so that didn't surprise me that much, especially after I was standing next to [Jessica Sanchez] and [Phillip Phillips]. That was kind of a giveaway to me, but you know, I was surprised just because I had never been in the bottom. But at the same time, I'm okay with it and I'm glad Hollie gets to stay longer. She's going to kill it next week and all is going to be well.
But honestly, it all happened so fast and since I had never been in the bottom, I didn't fully understand what was going on. And even this morning when I woke up, like I was thinking, "Okay, well, you need to get ready for the mentor session," and I'm like, "Oh wait, (laughs) that wasn't a bad dream last night."
It's weird. It's weird being on the other side of things and outside of the Idol bubble. But again, I'm excited for what's coming up and everything's going to be okay.
Reality TV World: It seems like American Idol this season has been stressing "girl power." Jimmy Iovine recently said during an episode that the girls need to ban together and vote for girls, while the female finalists I've talked to up until this point agreed that there tends to be "guy favoritism" on Idol. I mean, a girl hasn't won the competition since Jordin Sparks back in Season 6. So do you think all this rallying is actually making a difference and maybe that's why you and the guys before you got eliminated? Do you think the female voters are starting to help out the girls more now than in past seasons?
Colton Dixon: Honestly, I don't even know what to say. I think this season, if a girl is going to win any season, it's this season. The girls are so good, but then again, you look and you have [Joshua Ledet] and Phillip Phillips still in it.
Seriously, anyone can take it this year. It's just about who's willing to put in the work and change up a song and make it their own and really outshine the rest of the group every week. I'm wondering and excited about who's going to take it just as everyone else is, and I know them all. So, it's going to be cool to see.
Also during the call, Colton told reporters what he believed his big downfall was in the competition and which decision he regret the most, what type of album he'd like to record, why he became frustrated with Idol's judges at one point, and what was the reasoning behind the apology he offered fans during Thursday night's live results show.
What type of album do you plan to record and will your sister be a part of it?
Colton Dixon: I definitely want to do Christian music. I hope that I get to, but right now, I'm going to write as much as I can and see what comes out. And then whatever the product is of that will be where I'm placed as far as the genre of music.
But with my sister, I had someone earlier today ask me if I was going to do a duet with my sister on an album. I think that would be amazing. It's a great idea, I'll look into it, see if she wants to do it -- which I'm sure she'd love to. It'd be so much fun, but we'll have to see and cross that bridge if and when it comes.
What goes into your song selections? What is the process like?
Colton Dixon: We have one to two days to choose a song or two songs, if it's a two-song week. It's rough. They give you a song list and you choose either from 13 songs on a list or a two-page list, you know? For this week, it was a two-page list for the Top 100 number one's from 2000 to now, and then a two-page list for soultrain.
So, you just have to go through and see what you can do with the song. Unfortunately, I don't think I chose the best one this week, but you know, it's all good. But in choosing songs, you just have to make sure that it's something you can connect to, and that's what I try to focus on first and then the musicality and how you're going to perform it comes later.
What was your reaction when you found out Carrie Underwood was supporting you on Twitter?
Colton Dixon: I haven't seen them through Twitter, but during an interview last night afterwards, someone told me what she had wrote. I just want to say thanks.
She has done so well since American Idol and I love that she doesn't shy away from her faith either. So, it's nice to see someone doing what I want to do away from the show give me good encouragement, and yeah, it was just amazing to see that and I really do appreciate it.
What advice did you receive while you were on the show that you're going to carry with you from now on?
Colton Dixon: Always stay true to yourself no matter who's in your ear telling you to do this, that and the other. At the end of the day, it's your decision. And unfortunately, song choice got the best of me this week.
It was a hard lesson learned, but you know, I needed to learn that lesson. You have to have a valley before you can peak, and what's cool about this is I don't think I've peaked yet, which makes me excited for this album -- or hopeful album -- I should say. We'll see what happens, but yeah, always remaining true to yourself for sure.
Do your future plans involve writing or recording in Nashville or that sort of area?
Colton Dixon: Yeah, first of all, I miss Nashville so much. I can't wait to go back next week, but yeah, I have several friends who love to write around Nashville and Franklin, so I'm excited to get back and start working and see what we come up with. But I definitely plan on staying somewhere around Nashville for sure.
Are you looking to be a Christian artist but also have a mainstream appeal at the same time?
Colton Dixon: Absolutely. I'm so thankful for the Idol platform because I was able to reach so many more people than just the Christian market and I'm extremely thankful for that. So, doing a Switchfoot route would be amazing. It would be exactly what I want to do. I guess do the best of both worlds.
I could maybe tour with a Chris Daughtry or Paramore or even Switchfoot and then hit the main churches along the way too. It's about a ministry for me, so I'd be able to share the message with people who already know and for those who maybe don't know. So I'd love to be able to do that and I'm excited to see what happens with it.
You apologized to everyone immediately following your elimination during Thursday night's live results show. What exactly were you apologizing for other than your Lady GaGa "Bad Romance" song choice?
Colton Dixon: Yeah, last night, first of all, seeing the way I came across on-camera after going backstage after "September," I was kind of disappointed -- one with TV editing, but again, I said it. So, I was disappointed in that. That's definitely not who I am and that came across the wrong way, but especially with song choice.
I've taken pride in knowing who I am and really taking a stance in my faith, and I think by choosing "Bad Romance," I turned off a lot of those voters -- which are my core voters.
So, it was an apology for both of those things. I'm sorry that I got caught up in the musicality and performance this week instead of what it should've been, which is the connection to a song that I normally bring every week. So, I hate that I had to go out on that note, but I got a chance to do "Everything" by Lifehouse again and I'm glad I got to do that.
What went into your decision to do a powerful religious song for your closing performance?
Colton Dixon: The producers and everyone else on the show were saying, "Be who you are. You've gotten this far based on that." And I was going to do this anyway, but that just really gave me a good little kick into doing "Everything" by Lifehouse.
I'm a Christian and I'm not going to shy away from it, so I thought I would share that with everyone watching. I got great feedback from what I did. I was so glad I got to do it, not once, but twice on the show. I think that made an impact and that encouraged fellow believers to take a stand in what they believe in and not be ashamed of it.
Chris Daughtry once said that he was glad he lost because winning would have wrecked his rock credibility. Do you go along with that?
Colton Dixon: I'm not sure if I completely agree with that. You know, winning provides many, many, many opportunities that me and five other people aren't going to get to experience. However, Idol was such a huge platform and so many people watch it from a certain point on that people now know who I am and who I stand for and what I want to do.
And so, I understand what Chris is saying, but at the same time, I think -- I mean, I'm not going to lie -- it would have been nice to win. But by not winning, I think I'm more flexible with what I can and can't do. So, I think everything happens for a reason and God's got a plan, so I'm just going to trust it and go along with it.
If you had to pick a contestant, who could you see being in the finale?
Colton Dixon: You know, in seasons past, I could clearly pick a winner, and I'm not just saying this because they're all dear to me, but it's anyone's game and I genuinely mean that. I think a lot of people were surprised by my leaving last night, but it just goes to show you that no one is safe.
America has to vote for their favorite. There are a couple of people who stand out every week, but at the same time, there's room for dark horses in this race. So, everyone did so well this week and I know that streak is going to continue. But honestly, I'm just as curious as everyone else over who's going to take this home, because I honestly have no clue.
Was there a judge in particular you felt was too hard on you, or did you ever find yourself getting frustrated with any of them or their criticism?
Colton Dixon: I was frustrated after I did "September" just because they tell me to be true to who I am and they love the way that I change up a song, and yet, they didn't like "September" which I thought I did to a "T" of who I am.
So, that was a little frustrating, but at the same time, it didn't show off a lot of vocals and the range wasn't crazy. So I understand it from a vocal competition standpoint. So you know, it's frustrating. But at the same time, I kind of get it.
But that was a little frustrating, because at the same time, after hearing comments like, "I can hear you on the radio today. You're ready to make a record today" from Steven, it's so encouraging and it makes me want to write this very second and get a record together. So I am stoked for what's going to happen.
Which judge do you think gave you the best advice throughout the competition?
Colton Dixon: I think [Randy Jackson] has given the best. I love them all and they all bring something different, but Randy has really reached out and invested in me and I love seeing that. He told me to never stray too far from who you are and always up your game. It's not week to week now, but it might be song to song or album to album, hopefully. So, I'll definitely take that and always remember that.
The judges nearly always seemed to like it when you would take a song and transform it to fit your own personal style as an artist. What do you think was the riskiest move you made in that regard?
Colton Dixon: I think the biggest risk was "Bad Romance" by Lady GaGa, and I think it was a bad risk to take because I didn't really think it through. I think musically and performance wise and image, I was so happy with the way it turned out.
But at the same time, the message that was portrayed wasn't really who I was, and that's normally the first thing that I think about. And for whatever reason, I just overlooked that this week and I lost sight of what I normally think of first.
So I think that's the main reason why I'm talking to you right now, honestly. But it's a lesson that I'm going to learn from and I'm going to get back on my feet and I'm going to write and hopefully put out a record some time soon. So no harm, no foul and I'm totally excited about the future.
Have you thought about what songs you'd like to perform during American Idol's tour this summer and what would you have done for Queen week next week?
Colton Dixon: I have no clue what songs I'm going to do on tour. I'm sure we'll do a couple that we did on the show, so I'll probably ask the fans what their favorites were and figure it out and give them what they want.
For Queen, I was wanting to do "The Show Must Go On." I think that would have been an awesome song. I love the way Moulin Rouge did it. That would have been such a fun song. It would have had a choir. I was totally excited. I hate that I'm not going to get to do it, but yeah. That would've been a lot of fun.
Do you think many fans' votes were split between you and Phillip? Because you two are the male finalists on the show who seemed to have the most votes.
Colton Dixon: I don't think they were necessarily split. I don't think it was either you're a Phillip fan or a Colton fan. The demographic for voters are the same for a lot of us. So I hate when [Jimmy Iovine] compared us that way, but Phillip is phenomenal with what he does and I'm happy he stayed.
He's fantastic and I'm excited to see what he does on the show and I'm excited to see what he does with Queen. But yeah, I don't think it was necessarily split, but I know a lot of my fans are Phillip Phillips fans. It's going to be pretty cool to see how all of this unwinds.
What would be your ideal theme week if you were able to choose your own?
Colton Dixon: Hmm, my ideal theme week. This has never been done on the show and it probably won't, because not everyone is a writer, but I think it would be awesome if a theme week one week would be to write a song completely from scratch and play it.
That would be so much fun. I love to write and it'd be cool to sit in a room with different co-writers based on each artist. I might need to talk to [Nigel Lythgoe] about this. I'm getting excited about this. But yeah, I would love that. That would've been so much fun.
If the judges still had a save last night, do you think they would have used it on you?
Colton Dixon: Based on this week, just from their feedback, I don't know. It's up in the air. I think I was pretty consistent up until this week, so I would hope they would. But at the same time, I'm really glad they used it on Jessica. She totally deserves it and she's going to do great things. But you know, I would like to think that they would and hope that they would, but I guess we'll never know.
Any closing remarks?
I can't stress enough my faith and what that means to me. God gave me a voice at 13-years-old and I just want to share it whether that's through Christian music, secular music, whatever. But again, thank you for supporting me or following me through this journey. I appreciate it, but stay tuned, because there's definitely more to come for sure.