Deandre Brackensick: I didn't need another 'American Idol' chance
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/06/2012
Deandre Brackensick was ousted from American Idol during Thursday night's live results show broadcast on Fox, determining the eleventh season's Top 7 finalists.
Deandre, a 17-year-old from San Jose, CA, became the sixth 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 8 finalists singing songs from the 1980s.
During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Deandre talked to Reality TV World about his American Idol experience -- including how it made him feel when Idol's judges defended him against Jimmy Iovine's blunt complaints and opinions and whether he was surprised only Jennifer Lopez wanted to "save him" although he was originally Steven Tyler's "Wild Card" pick.
Reality TV World: Jimmy said it was most likely going to be you or Hollie Cavanagh packing your bags to go home when he reviewed your performance during last night's live results show. What was your reaction to that, do you think he was too hard on you? And how did it make you feel when the judges came to your defense and stood by their positive feedback of you?
Deandre Brackensick: Jimmy saying that, it was fine. People have their own opinions. It doesn't bother me at all. It comes along with the gift and the ride. So whatever he said, it's all out of love, and I take everything to heart whether it be bad -- I just take that and it makes me want to drive to go further.
And I really loved how the judges stood by my back, you know? I love our judges. What you see on TV is what you get off TV, because they've always been supporting me since the beginning. It just made me feel good, really good.
So even though I did get eliminated, I'm glad I got eliminated the way I did. I went off on a good note. I went off happy. It wasn't a sad moment in the way where I had a regret or I did something wrong. I have no regrets. I feel like I did what I needed to do and I just got cut just because of competition sake.
Reality TV World: Jennifer Lopez admitted she wanted to use "The Judges' Save" on you. Did you ever get a better explanation as to why Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler weren't onboard with her to save you, and were you a little surprised Steven especially didn't vote to save you considering you were his "Wild Card" pick at the beginning of the competition?
Deandre Brackensick: I think that -- I didn't ask, because if people have a reason, I don't really want to ask. But I just think because of that, because I was a "Wild Card," I just think I don't need to be saved again. This is my second chance from last year, so it's my second chance at Idol, and then I got a second chance with the "Wild Card."
You only get so many second chances in life and you just need to make good of what you have now. I think even getting this far, I could build something off of this. I think they believe in me too, so I don't really need the whole show to be who I want to be.
Reality TV World: You became a part of the Top 13 as a "Wild Card" pick at the beginning of the season. So did you think you were kind of on "borrowed time" going into the rest of the performance shows considering most of the other guys had already received more votes than you? Were you worried since the start of the season that you may not make it as far as you hoped or did you think you could eventually win America over?
Deandre Brackensick: A little bit. There was a little bit of fear. Me, [Jeremy Rosado] and [Erika Van Pelt], we all sat down that night and talked about it. It kind of brought us down a little bit, because we were judges picks but we didn't know what was going to happen later on, because America didn't want us at that time.
I think in the end though, it drove me even more. And even getting this far, I'm still shocked. I just accomplished so much from being America's nobody to winning at least a portion of America being on my back and I love it. I love it so much.
Also during the call, Deandre told reporters why he believed he didn't rack in as many votes as the other contestants, what's he's most looking forward to now that his run on the show is over, how he reacted to Jimmy's harsh comments throughout the season, and whether he felt safe going into the live results show or had a gut feeling he'd be the one going home.
How difficult was it to start off the show? Because you sang first in two of the last three performance shows. Was it harder to do that than going in the middle?
Deandre Brackensick: A little bit because you have to have that level of being really good to start off the show, and it kind of sucks to start off the show because you don't want to be forgotten. But everything happens for a reason, so I was just happy no matter what. It was cool.
Did you have a chance to talk to the judges or any of the contestants after you were eliminated Thursday night?
Deandre Brackensick: I got to -- the judges came to talk to me and just told me to keep doing what I'm doing and that I'm going to keep going on in life with music, and I did get to see some of the contestants at the mansion when I was packing up. It was all love. It was all love from everybody.
Do you think Jimmy was pretty hard on you last night when he reviewed your Wednesday night performance and did you get to talk to him after the show?
Deandre Brackensick: No, not at all. Jimmy has his opinion. Everyone has their own opinion and it's going to come from either Jimmy or from fans or from people that don't like me or from my friends and family.
It's going to come regardless, so much love to him for doing that. I have nothing but respect for him, and even though it did come off like that, it drove me even harder to try to prove him wrong. So in the end, he helped me. And everything he has said to me helped me in the long run.
Based on the judges' comments, your performance this week was the best one you've had so far this season during the performance shows. Did the turnout of the vote surprise you because of that and did you think you were going to be safe from elimination going into it?
Deandre Brackensick: The vote was I'd say a bittersweet. I thought I did a very, very good job the night before, and even though it did happen, it happened, you know? I just can't really explain the feeling that I had. It was just more of a numbness, because I didn't know what to feel. I was so happy for myself, but I just didn't want to go, you know?
You told reporters last night that although you would've liked to stay in the competition, the one thing you were looking forward to about going home was having the chance to attend your prom. How surreal will it be for you to jump back into your normal life after this experience?
Deandre Brackensick: It's going to be somewhat weird, because I'm just so used to being busy, busy, busy, busy and the Idol life. But I think it will be easy to just slip right back in, but hopefully I won't be brought back in for the rest of my life. Hopefully this is a nice little break and then I'll be busy for the rest of my life. That's what I want to do.
Do you think your prom is going to be anti-climactic in a way compared to American Idol?
Deandre Brackensick: I guess so, but I don't really -- this brought the confidence out of me, because at the previous dances, I worked as like a coat-taker or ticket-taker and stuff like that. I feel comfortable enough [now] to go to a prom and just enjoy it. I'm glad I get to enjoy life as a kid, just the little things as a kid, and then get to go enjoy the high life of Idol. So I guess it's the best of both worlds.
So you've never really been to a dance or prom at school before?
Deandre Brackensick: I have, I have. I just worked at them though. I was coat-taker at junior prom, ticket-taker at homecoming -- I was homecoming king -- but I was also ticket-taker and bag-taker and stuff. I just worked because I was so uncomfortable with myself.
Has that idea of yourself changed or is beginning to change?
What happens next? When do you get back home and will you return to school?
Deandre Brackensick: I'm due back home in about a week and I'm not going to go back to school because I'll only be there for a couple weeks. I'm going to stay home-schooled, independent study, because I'm going to go back for the tour and practices. But I'll be home. I really can't wait to come see all the support I got from them at home.
What advice did you receive while you were on the show that you're going to carry with you?
Deandre Brackensick: Just to stick to myself. That was a big thing that I was struggling with because I always wanted to try to please people and it just never worked, you know?
When you please yourself, everything comes together and you feel comfortable, and people love it better when you please yourself and you do what you want, you know? The judges voted me in because they loved me, so why would I change myself if that's not even why I got in there in the first place.
It seems like in a lot of cases, contestants go on American Idol and don't know their music history. For example, many singers might not know of many songs from the 80s, but you clearly did know your history. So how important do you think that is in the competition?
Deandre Brackensick: It does help because you just get thrown a whole bunch of different genres just randomly. You need to know different styles, different genres, different decades of music, because song choice is the whole game of Idol.
That's the whole game, you know, at first. To know the history of music, to know the old things and know new things -- just to know what you're singing and how to sing them is really important.
What would you like your record to sound like? What kind of artist do you want to be?
Deandre Brackensick: I want to be an R&B artist -- true R&B, soul -- like the falsetto and the old-school kind of stuff. I want to bring that back a lot, because I think music is really lacking that and people just need to know that there's other things.
I want to bring back instruments, because people don't really use them as much now. Everything's computers. So I want it to truly -- not that I don't like music nowadays, I love music nowadays -- I just want people to know that there's other things out there too.
Mentor Gwen Stefani told you that you always looked worried while singing. Do you think you lacked a little confidence because of your nerves?
Deandre Brackensick: I think it's just the fact that being judged, it's just waiting for acceptance, even though there were times I felt really good about it. I just didn't show it on my face. I was just waiting for what they were going to say and that was partially my problem.
I was just always waiting for acceptance and you know, what I realized is if I accept it, then I'm fine. If it met my standards, then it should be good and I shouldn't have to worry about anything.
Some viewers believe your "save me" song didn't show off your vocal ability as well as other songs might have. Would you agree with that and why did you choose the song that you did?
Deandre Brackensick: Because I just had a feeling I wasn't going to get saved, because I was a save already from the "Wild Card." So even though that song didn't really show off anything, I just wanted to go off -- I wanted to leave on a happy note, on something fun.
I didn't want it to be something sad. I didn't want to dwell on things that I did in the competition but just look on and be happy about what I did accomplish throughout this whole experience.
What was something you were surprised to learn about yourself while you were on the show?
Deandre Brackensick: Just that I'm able to be at that level with everybody else. It took me a really long while to realize that I'm in the same competition as everybody -- like I'm good enough, like why do I have to feel intimidated by everybody? This is my family. They support me; I support them. There's no reason to feel that way.
My own idol came over and told me I did a great job with one of his songs. I could do what I want to do. I have the talent. I'm able. That's basically one thing I really learned. I gained a lot of confidence, I guess.
What are you most looking forward to about going on tour?
Deandre Brackensick: I'm really looking forward to, well number one, is being with everybody and just singing because I love to sing with people. That's like a big thing for me, and I'm going to my hometown and performing for everybody -- for all the love I'm getting and hearing about, it will be really cool.
Do you think the voters are making the right choices so far?
Deandre Brackensick: I just think that everything happens for a reason and I think partially because of the voting and why I got kicked off is just because my voice and my style is just not popular nowadays. It was -- I'm trying to bring back something, you know, and I'm still in the process of bringing it back. It's something that got lost and is unappreciated in this new generation.
I think that was partially the reason, but you know, it's also just because everyone is so good! Someone has to go one week every week, so it happened to be me this week and I'm just going to take what I got and just be grateful for what I did and this experience.
Do you think being a "Wild Card" gave you a disadvantage going into the competition?
Deandre Brackensick: Somewhat. I think somewhat just because I think America really didn't get to see my full voice, because it was only based off of one silly performance.
Because I was only shown the day before and it was all falsetto and they didn't really get to show my lower register back in Hollywood Week and everything in all the other auditions I did. So, I'm glad I did get to show the other side of me that was there and I think that was basically it.
What is your next move?
Deandre Brackensick: Tour, number one. And then hopefully getting a record deal out of this or something. Whatever comes my way, I'm trying to grab it as much as I can whether it be modeling, acting, anything -- anything. I just want it. I just want to keep working. Like I said before, I want to be exhausted the day that I die.
Could you talk about something else you learned from competing on American Idol?
Deandre Brackensick: One thing I learned through this was that I need to learn from people, not listen -- take what I want and apply it to who I am -- not take what they tell me and make myself what they want. That's what I learned from this.