Last week, American Idol found itself a little less jolly after the elimination of 23-year-old Paul Jolley. The Tennessee native performed “Eleanor Rigby” for The Beatles-themed week. Although Jolley had a mostly solid vocal performance, the judges were less than impressed and he found himself as the lowest vote-getter last week. The following afternoon, Jolley spoke with various press outlets about his run on the show. He talked candidly about his thoughts on the feedback he received from the judges and Jimmy Iovine and whether or not he’d go back and change anything about his experience on Idol.
I’ve got to say I was sorry to see you go. What kind of album do you see yourself making?
I still want to stick with the country/pop lane. I don’t want to change what I feel in my heart that my calling is and what I need to be doing.
What advice was given to you after your elimination from the judges?
Yes, a few of them came up and they just told me to just keep on keeping on, pretty much, and believe in myself and pretty much that I have a career in this.
Were you guys confused by the conflicting advice that you were getting throughout the competition?
I was kind of confused because every week it was something new, which I appreciated that a lot because I always want that room to grow, so if I’m not doing something wrong then there’s something wrong with them not telling me. No, I really appreciate them telling me things I can work on.
Jimmy Iovine says that the judges are being too easy on the contestants this season. I would guess that you would not agree with that.
I don’t agree with it. I feel like they’ve been really, really easy on a lot of other contestants, but for some reason I feel like I was just the pointed out one to be tough on this season. I’m okay with that because I want that critique and I want to grow as an artist and I want to go somewhere with my career. I’m okay with that.
You had said that you would prefer to do country and pop and some of the judges didn’t seem to think that your voice fit well in the country genre. Did that hold you back as far as picking songs or anything?
Not at all, because I know who I want to be and I’m not going to change that. The story that I’ve been giving people is when Elvis first started coming out, everybody was taken by storm, like, “Whoa, what’s this going on?” Once they caught on, now he’s the “King of Rock n’ Roll.” Everybody loves him. And I feel like once everyone catches on and sees where I want to go with this career and they hear the original material that I’m literally wanting to do, I feel like there will be a better understanding and people are going to love it.
I know they wanted you to steer away from country and onto pop or dance – would you ever do something like that, like a dance record?
I don’t think you’d really want to see me dance, but we’ll see.
How did you feel about Jimmy’s comment that you weren’t ready for primetime? What did you take away from that? I would just say to each his own because I think I am ready for it or I wouldn’t be in the top ten of the competition. There’s no way I would be there. I feel he saved me for a reason, so I feel like he knows that I have the talent and he knows that I’m ready or he wouldn’t have done that for me.
When it comes to Nicki Minaj, in particular, she was very hard on you at times. What’s your general opinion of her? Are you grateful for her advice? Do you wish she had been easier at times?
I’m thankful for the critiquing that she gave me. I wish it would’ve been more things that I could take and work on or learn from, but no, I still love her just the same and I appreciate everything she has. She put me through the first round as well, so I’m very thankful.
When the judges were providing you with feedback – did you favor one judge’s advice versus the others as far as their feedback helping you in the competition?
I would say that Keith Urban gave me the best feedback that I could probably learn from and take and use in my career that I want to do after Idol. Yes, for sure, Keith Urban.
I have a question about the save concept. What do you think of that? Do you think they should make the person trying to get a save go ahead and sing, because it doesn’t seem like they were paying much attention to you singing while you were doing it.
I knew I wasn’t going to be saved because Jimmy already saved me once, and I knew they weren’t going to save me again. I’m glad I got to sing because it makes the last stamp of Paul Jolley. It doesn’t just say, “Okay, Paul’s kicked off the show,” and then I’m done. I’d rather sing something that means something to me and then leave on a good note.
Jimmy Iovine had said that he expected Lazaro to land in the bottom three following his performance Wednesday night that obviously didn’t receive great praise from the judges. That didn’t happen. Do you have any thoughts on why that might be and did it surprise you that he escaped the bottom three?
Lazaro has a huge following. He has an amazing story and everyone connects to it. I give him good props for that and I wish him the best of luck in the future.
Everyone’s been proclaiming this season the year of the girls. Do you think that naturally put the men at a disadvantage voting-wise from the very beginning, because there’s just been so much talk about how excellent the girls are?
I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. I think they’re all amazing. I wish everybody the best of luck.
Looking back, do you think that you would’ve done anything differently? If you could go back, would you have changed anything to better your chances in the competition, whether it be song choice or anything like that?
I honestly would not change a single thing that I’d done on the show. I chose my song choices for a reason. If you listen, everything that I sang had a lyrical meaning and I loved every bit of it. No, I wouldn’t change a thing that I’d done at all.
If you had stayed on Idol, what song were you planning on singing next week?
It was going to be “Tracks of My Tears.”
For all of those who are hoping to be on Idol next year, do you have any advice for them?
Just go for it and don’t hold back. When you walk in there, just be yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Just believe in yourself and have faith that you can do this and if it’s something that’s meant to be then it will happen or maybe it’s just not the right timing if you don’t make it. I just say keep on keeping on.
Tonight, Idol’s Top 8 will take on “Music of Motor City” starting at 8 p.m. on FOX.
Photo credit: Michael Becker/Frank Micelotta/FOX