Jason Castro talks about his seventh-season 'American Idol' journey
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/09/2008
Jason Castro's American Idol journey lasted longer than he thought it would.
"I made it farther than I ever had imagined. I didn't really consider it a real possibility that I could win until these last few weeks," he told reporters during a Thursday conference call. "And I was giving it my best. I never necessarily had the mind set of winning first place, but it was more of the mind set of every week, I want to give it my best, and that leads to winning it."
Despite approaching the competition one step at a time, the 20-year-old from Rockwall, TX was ousted from Idol's seventh season after "nearly 51 million" home viewer votes were cast immediately following Tuesday night's live performance broadcast that saw the Top 4 finalists each singing two songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
While he may be relieved to be off the show, Castro said he wasn't telling fans "Don't vote" following his first performance on Tuesday night.
"I was saying, 'Vote.' And then I said it again because I was kind of trying to emphasize that but nobody heard me, and I remember going and sitting down and thinking about it, and that they kind of have the same syllables, and it's going to look like, 'Don't vote,'" explained Castro. "That went through my mind, and I was like, 'Dang it.' And I consciously, the second time, I only said vote once."
Castro's Tuesday night performance of "Mr. Tambourine Man" also proved troublesome, as he blanked on several of the lyrics in the chorus. Idol judge Simon Cowell later told reporters, "I think he forgot the words on purpose. I think he's just ready to go home."
"Yeah, somebody told me that earlier. I definitely did not do that on purpose," said Castro about Cowell's comment. "I couldn't believe I forgot such a popular line, something that's like written on your soul. Somehow, it slipped my mind. But I definitely didn't do that on purpose."
Castro said he was "rushed" on stage that night and described his mind as a "blur" before subsequently forgetting where in the chorus he was. However he said he was "split both ways" when asked if he thought he'd be eliminated for it or if home viewer votes would save him.
"I really didn't know what was going to happen because I kind of felt like I was the one that deserved to go. I felt like I had the weakest performances that night," he explained. "But at the same time, I know I have some very loyal fans, and I was really unsure either way."
Being portrayed as the "mellow" and "goofy" seventh-season finalist during his time on Idol, Castro told reporters both those adjectives do fit him well.
"I'm kind of laid back and grounded and everything, nothing really comes as a surprise if you don't expect it. I am like that," he said about being mellow. "I'm not always so calm. I am kind of goofy. I think that a lot of people don't see my hyperness sometimes. I still have fun, but I am pretty relaxed about everything."
While he likes to have, Castro did say he's not exactly super-suave when it comes to social situations.
"I am kind of an awkward conversationalist," he told reporters before adding, "I'm doing my best right now. All my friends, they love it because what you see is what you get. I didn't change at all coming out here."
Castro is so laid back that he was at the center of a minor controversy this season when he was seen yawning and accused of being bored with the competition.
"I heard about the yawn," he said. "I didn't hear anything negative about it... But no, I wasn't bored. I am a chronic yawner. Every week before my song, I'm yawning, and I don't know where it comes from or why, but I'm always yawning."
Overall, Castro said being in the media spotlight is a bit overwhelming -- and confusing.
"It's kind of a weird thing. I don't really get it yet," he said of being recognized. "I've never been a guy to be star struck or anything, so it kind of takes me off guard when people are so crazy. But it's cool. It means they like you, so it's flattering."
Castro was one of a few Top 24 seventh-season semifinalists who didn't receive any face time until after the Hollywood Round. He explained it was due to selecting songs that the producers were unable to clear -- such as Sublime's "Santeria" -- and added it was initially worrying.
"I was a little [concerned] because I would see how people were getting excited about other people, and I was like, 'Uh-oh, they're already getting fans." said Castro. "And I knew why they weren't airing my stuff. It didn't clear and stuff, so I was okay with it, but it still wasn't fun."
However while the other semifinalists who weren't heavily featured all got the boot fairly early in the competition, Castro managed to make it all the way to Top 4.
"I think a lot of it just has to do with kind of my uniqueness in many ways and just being different from the usual thing," he explained to reporters. "I at least catch the eye and the ear a little faster than anybody else, and so that was an advantage since I was disadvantaged coming in, but I guess just me was an advantage."
During Idol'sApril 29 performance episode, judge Paula Abdul claimed she got confused and critiqued two Castro performances after he had only performed once -- basing her on-air comments on his rehearsal of a song that he had yet to perform live.
"That was kind of funny," said Castro before echoing Abdul's comment about the incident. "I was just kind of confused, like, 'What's going on? Does the second song mean [David Cook], or what does that mean?' But I don't know. It was an honest mistake, and I don't think it really affected my next performance."
Castro was also criticized by Cowell during his Idol run for getting by on his looks alone and appealing to younger female fans, who will no doubt be crushed to learn he does currently have a girlfriend.
"She's from Texas," he told reporters. "She's back in Texas now. Yes, she just finished school, headed home."
With only three finalists left, Castro was left it really matters which one wins at this point since they've all received considerable exposure already.
"I think it very much does matter who wins, or at least how far you get," he answered. "I think every week you're on gives you that much more of a chance because you're never guaranteed anything in this business, but I think we've all been given the opportunity to have some exposure that now at least people know who you are, maybe would take a second to listen. So I don't know. I think it matters, but we all have an opportunity."
As for what's next, Castro said he's "looking forward" to the tour and said after that he'll just go "wherever music leads me."
"I've learned that I can do a lot more than I thought," he told reporters. "Before I did this, I wasn't really confident as a performer, and I wasn't doing it a whole lot. And well, now, I did it for a few months straight on TV. And so I just gained a lot of confidence and learned that I can do it, and it's cool."