'American Idol' eliminee Ben Briley: Randy Jackson did a 180 as my mentor and no longer had my back
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/17/2014
American Idol eliminated Ben Briley during Thursday night's live results show on Fox, determining the thirteenth season's Top 10 finalists and the singers who will be a part of Idol's summer tour this year.
Ben, a 24-year-old from Gallatin, TN, became the third finalist sent home from American Idol's thirteenth season after he received the fewest home viewer votes cast following Wednesday night's performance show, which featured the Top 11 finalists performing songs from the cinema, paying a tribute to Hollywood. He tried to show a different side of his country self by singing "Bennie and the Jets."
Idol judges Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban decided against using their one "The Judges' Save" of the season on him after he sang for survival. Ben landed in the bottom three alongside Majesty Rose and Sam Woolf.
To read what Ben had to say to Reality TV World during a Friday conference call with reporters, click here. Below is another part of his interview. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.
Ben Briley: You know, Randy really helped me. He really had my back, this week especially. We had some issues on whether [the band] wanted me to play or not play [the piano] and whether or not the song choice was good. And Randy actually had my back.
He said, "Hey, I really think you should play and have the band come in and then you get up and walk around and stuff." And I agreed with him. I said, "Yeah, that's what I want to do." They worried the piano was going to take away from my singing and I assured them it wasn't because I know how to play and sing at the same time. I've been doing it for seven, eight years or so.
And then, after he said that and really had my back, when he commented on yesterday's show, he said, "It confused people," which was a complete 180 from what he actually told me.
But, you know, he's a nice guy. I wish we had more mentoring sessions with him. We only saw him probably about two, three times a week. I know that's a lot more than what's normally [the case], but it was fun and the workshop is fun too that we get to do.
You're talking about the workshop with former Idol finalist Adam Lambert and winner Chris Daughtry, right? Could you talk a little bit about that? What advice did they give you?
Ben Briley: Yes, they took 30, 31 of us, and I didn't actually get to talk to Adam that much, but Chris really helped me out as far as making sure you pick your songs and make them your own. He was really helpful that way.
So going back to how you said Randy did a 180 in regards to what he told you about your performance, could you elaborate on that more? You're saying he totally changed his position from when he was mentoring you to his comments live on-air?
Ben Briley: Well he was all for it when we were in rehearsals going over the songs, because we had some issues with that song and the arrangement, and we've been worried, "Well maybe we should just do a different song." And I was adament about sticking with it because it was my gut feeling.
I always wanted to do that song and play the piano and all this, and he was all for it. So yeah, he was like, "This is going to be great. It's a very different look for you. You're showing a different side and I think it's going to go over well," and then -- I "confused the audience," is his words, and I "confused people."
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So, you know, I don't understand. I think he was also kind of going off of what the judges said as well, and I think what ultimately sent me home was kind of what the judges said that swayed all the votes.
What's the best advice you've gotten this season from anyone?
Ben Briley: I'd probably say the best piece [of advice] would definitely be, "Don't sacrifice your performance for your artistry." I think Keith told me that. He told me that, I think, the first week of the live shows.
And it really hit home for me, you know, I really didn't understand it until I went back and actually watched it later. But it's true and you don't want to sacrifice the performance value and all the running around and the tempo for the artist you are. And yeah, that was probably the most down-to-earth comment I got while I was on the show.
When you first got on the Idol stage and performed in front of the big audience, what were the thoughts running through your head?
Ben Briley: Well, it was really, really exciting. The first time we were on that stage was during "Rush Week" and of course there's the tunnel with all the fans there that are cheering you on and stuff like that, and that was pretty exciting, to be able to run through that tunnel like that.
What did you think when the judges decided to put the final spot in the semifinals in the hands of America's vote between you and Neco Starr? That's never been done before.
Ben Briley: Yeah, that was definitely a surprise. I did not expect that at all. I think they did that primarily because they really could not decide and we were both so different -- two completely different people -- so we weren't going to do a sing-off, because that would've been pointless, and we weren't going to do any tiebreaker or anything.
So they thought the only way to find out was to get America to vote to figure out which one would go through, and I'm pretty sure it's an American Idol record for the number of eliminations [a contestant] got through in a week. Because I went through three in three days. I'm pretty sure that's a record.
What did you think of all the little imitation videos that aired before each performance in which you all were making fun of one another?
Ben Briley: That was so fun to do, impersonate everybody. [C.J. Harris] kind of hit the nail [on the head]. It was probably the best one of the night when he talked about my hat or something in that crazy grandma voice that he always uses. But that was super fun to be able to do that. I'm glad I got to do that too.
It didn't seem like initially trying out for American Idol was your idea, but as the competition went on, you got more pumped up and more into it. Was there a point in your American Idol audition experience when you really started to want it for yourself?
Ben Briley: Well, it was really during the audition actually when I got to go to Hollywood. I didn't think I would go and they wanted me there, so it gave me ambition and more drive to actually do well on the show.
How has your wife supported you throughout this journey?
Ben Briley: Well she was only here -- the only week she wasn't in L.A. was -- not this week -- but the last week. She's been here every other week, supporting me and making sure that I keep focused. She was always telling me she didn't want to distract me and wanted to make sure I was keeping the focus and getting votes and stuff like that. She's definitely my biggest fan and my biggest supporter.
Above is a part of Ben's Friday conference call with reporters. To read what he had to tell Reality TV World specifically, click here. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.