Jacob Lusk: I had expected to be eliminated from 'American Idol'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/06/2011
Jacob Lusk's American Idol journey ended when he was eliminated during Thursday night's live results show which determined the competition's Top 4 finalists.
The 23-year-old from Compton, CA resident became the ninth finalist sent home from American Idol's tenth season after he received the fewest home viewer votes following Wednesday night's performance show -- becoming the fourth-straight male finalist eliminated after the finals began with five female finalists being ousted.
During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Reality TV World asked Lusk if he had anticipated his ouster and whether he was surprised that Lauren Alaina -- who had previously never been among the competition's bottom vote-getters -- was the other finalist in the bottom two vote-getters with him.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised you were eliminated last night or had you kind of been expecting it based on the judges' feedback and your prior bottom-three finishes?
Jacob Lusk: I had expected it not because of my bottom-three finishes, but because of the judges' feedback and my performance this past week. I feel like I was the only one who wasn't in his element last week. Everyone else was in their element and I did songs that weren't in my genre -- that weren't really my thing -- I tried to do something different.
It just wasn't the time to do that and I feel that was why I got voted off. Not because I was horrible, not because they didn't like me or they liked someone else better -- was it a popularity contest? No. Those four people that are left did amazing, and they were in their element Wednesday night and I wasn't, simply put.
Reality TV World: This was Lauren's first time in the bottom all season long. What was your reaction when Ryan Seacrest revealed it. Did it surprise you and, if so, who were you thinking was going to be in the bottom two alongside you?
Jacob Lusk: To be honest, it's five of us, so any one of us could be in the bottom two or the bottom three with only five of us. So, it is such a difficult thing for me when there are so many talents, to be honest. I think that the vote was just about split evenly, and it's such a close race that anybody could win. Any one of us could have got sent home last night. So, it's that close of a race right now.
Also in the call, Lusk discussed the rest of his American Idol experience with reporters -- including what he was trying to say with his controversial "Man in the Mirror" comments earlier this season, what he envisions his debut album will be like, and what he thought of Idol mentor Jimmy Iovine's criticism of him.
Many viewers have said your farewell performance was your best of the competition when you no longer had to worry about things, and Jimmy Iovine had previously said he thought the pressure was getting to you. So was he accurate?
Jacob Lusk: I wouldn't say the pressure was getting to me. I will say that I was getting a little tired, probably, and I was really just trying to do different things that I thought he would like and that America wanted to see different things. But at the end of the day, I definitely went out and was like, "I'm going to give it my all. I'm not going to hold anything back," and that's what I did.
Idol judge Randy Jackson said you sang the highest note of any prior contestants onstage during the show. Is that the highest you can go and have you ever broken glass?
Jacob Lusk: I have sung higher. I have broken a glass, but that wasn't from singing. I'm kind of clumsy, but I definitely have sang a lot higher than that.
Earlier this season, you made a statement about how if you went home after singing "Man in the Mirror," it would be because America wasn't ready to look at themselves in the mirror. Could you elaborate on that and what were you thinking?
Jacob Lusk: That comment had nothing to do with me and my vocal performance. I'm not the greatest singer in the world. At least I don't feel that I am. That was really more about my song selection and it was more about what's going on in the world at that time.
The Japan disaster had just happened a couple days before and it really for me, was about us all taking kind of an internal voyage, and that was it was about. It had nothing to do with people voting for me. It wasn't about that. It was about me wanting people to really look at ourselves and look at what we could do to really change the world, because the world is in a natural disaster state right now with disasters happening all over.
It's up to us to make a change, and especially, it starts with me. It's up to me. It all started with me that night and I was saying that I was going to make a change to help change the world. That was just about it. It had nothing to do with my vocal performance or being voted in or voted out. That wasn't what it was about. It was kind of sensationalized a little bit -- a whole lot.
Did you feel like America understood your vocal style and knew where you were coming from with the gospel and R&B sound? Did you feel like you fit in or that the audience didn't really know what to do with you?
Jacob Lusk: I think sometimes they didn't know what to do with me, but I think a lot of America's got it. I think they got the R&B thing and that I'm a soulful gospel guy, and those lines often times, blur. A lot of the great R&B singers like Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle and Whitney Houston have got their start in the church -- even Mariah Carey has a lot of gospel roots -- so, I mean, I think they got it.
I'm just thinking that I didn't have the greatest performance on Wednesday, and I wasn't really in my element on Wednesday and that's probably the reason why I was sent home.
Jimmy Iovine said some negative things about you like he didn't think you were going to last this week. How soul-destroying was hearing that criticism when you tried your best?
Jacob Lusk: I wouldn't call it "soul-destroying." It definitely hurt a lot to have someone who's supposed to be mentoring me -- it feels like every time you turn around, they're tearing you down. But you have to remember is that you're not doing it for him.
You're doing it for the people out there in America. They're the people who are voting and it definitely hurts. It's definitely hard to have someone beat you over the head with a baseball bat and then say, "Okay now go ahead and sing for your life."
But what I do and what I will definitely continue to do, now that the show's over for me in particular, is to really give my all and to show my heart and continue to do my best and touch people. That's what it's about. It's about touching people with music. It's not about how great I can sing or how many rifts I can do or how good Jimmy thinks I am or how bad he thinks I am. It's about me really putting out great music that America will love.
You mentioned during the show that you've been through a lot of hard times in your life, so could you talk about those adversities and what happened specifically?
Jacob Lusk: I grew up -- my mother and father divorced -- and my father, as you know, died when I was 12-years-old. So, I've been through a lot. I've gone to a lot of different schools. I was picked on real bad when I was younger, beat up, and I was even stomped off the playground. I went through having bad grades and then good grades and then moving out -- when I moved out on my own -- that made me the person I am.
I've been homeless. I've gone without -- there have been times when I didn't have any money and I didn't know what was going to happen or what I was going to do -- just moments like that where you just really feel like giving up. Especially in this industry, it's so hard to not have any support at times. You kind of feel by yourself -- times when I didn't think I was going to make it -- but I kept going and I'm here.
If there was anybody that you wanted to perform with on the finale, who would it be and why?
Jacob Lusk: I would love to perform with Whitney Houston or Patti LaBelle, maybe Chaka Khan or Prince. Somebody like that. Someone like that. Maybe if it was gospel, Yolanda Adams -- just so many people -- but I would want someone that's a big, big, big, big R&B soul singer, definitely.
Do you think you will get into an acting career at all or will you focus on just making an album?
Jacob Lusk: My primary album, obviously, would be to make an album. I'd like to finish up and do an album, but I definitely want to look into doing definitely some theater, maybe some Broadway as well. I've done some off-Broadway plays and some other plays, but I definitely want to do some Broadway and some films for sure.
What will your album sound like? What kind of elements will you throw into it?
Jacob Lusk: You're going to hear some traditional R&B, which I think is missing from the scene. There aren't any Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gay singers out right now. There's a lot of pop and bubble gum, but there's not really a lot of that stuff. That's what I do right; That's what I think I can bring to the table.
That's what I bring naturally, I don't have to try to do that. So that's what you're going to hear. You're going to hear the "A House Is Not a Home" -- those type of songs -- You're going to hear a lot of those love ballads. You're going to hear that. Inspirational music. You're also going to hear a lot of that, but yeah, definitely the inspirational music that's going to encourage people to keep living and keep fighting as well.
When you went through all those tough times in your childhood, did all of that take place in Compton, CA, or in various locations?
Jacob Lusk: It was in Compton and Los Angeles when I was 17, because I thought I was grown and knew everything. I moved out of my mother's house trying to be independent and a know-it-all. I moved out and I moved to LA and I got my own place and really roughed it out. I tried and became a man.
Does music serve as an escape for you?
Jacob Lusk: Education and music, definitely. The only way to get out of a tough situation is to educate yourself, and that's what my plan was. I graduated high school. I was student body president. I was a speech debate captain, and I thought positively.
I took AP classes and I said, "If I want to get out of here, I've got to go to school." And that's what I did. I went to college and took some music classes, and that kind of reinvigorated my passion for singing... That's about the time when I really progressed.
You seemed to be the victim of some contradictory advice from the judges about the type of artist you should become and what music you should sing. Did you get that feeling?
Jacob Lusk: Well I wouldn't say that it was contradictory advice. I think that what [Randy Jackson] was trying to tell me was that it's up to me and I have to be myself. If I'm being myself, then they can't say anything. That's really what it comes down to -- being yourself and being the best that you can be. When you're great, you're great. When you're good, you're good. Nobody can argue with that. That's what I have to do.
Have you had anyone reach out for you from the gospel or R&B world?
Jacob Lusk: I have not as of yet, but I'm pretty confident. I've heard some things through the grapevine and I think I'm going to be fine. There's a bigger world out there who's desirous of what I believe I have to offer. It's just about me getting out there and giving my heart and soul, and there's someone out there who's going to want it. I'm excited for that and there's some [word] through the grapevine that I have heard. There are.
Did Jimmy Iovine talk to you at all after the show, especially since he had made some comments that may have upset you?
Jacob Lusk: I did not, but all is well. I have no complaints. He has his own opinions and he's definitely entitled to them. I'm no longer a contestant, an active contestant, but all things work out great for those who deserve it, and I'm really excited.
I feel good about where my career is headed and it's time for me to get to work. I want to put out some great R&B records. It's time for me to go on auditions and Broadway and maybe do some film. I definitely see some duets in my future, hopefully. Do some Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Patti LaBelle -- I'm definitely excited.